By Kitty Hill
TRAWLING through a long-gone Tamworth antique store years ago, Ricky “Glassy” Glass stumbled across a rare nostalgic find in a dusty corner.
More than 100 paper-wrapped Allens, Rowntrees and Smalls candy bars with the 70-year-old candy contents displayed, untouched, neatly in a case, for use by salesmen in the days of penny jars and all-day suckers.
Last night the avid collector and his 1940s travelling candy case starred on Greenie’s Treasure Hunter, a popular segment of lifestyle show Better Homes and Gardens, which travelled to Tamworth last month in search of hidden gems.
Glassy said he knew he was onto a winner when he spotted the 15kg display case at Munro’s Mill 10 years ago, describing it as a “collector’s dream”.
But with a price tag of $650, he cast many longing glances through the windows before talking the owners down to $300 when they closed the shop for good three months later.
Glassy said he liked to imagine how the case came to be at the shop and the many stories it would hold about its owner.
“It would have belonged to a travelling lolly salesman in the 1940s or 1950s, who probably travelled around on the train, popping into local corner stores and service stations with the hope of selling his Rowntrees Fruit Gums and boxes of Black Magic,” Glassy said.
“He’d probably spend all day on the road and telegram his orders back to the head office at night. It’s fascinating to think about it.”
The avid collector said he believed the salesman more than likely retired and popped the case in a dark corner somewhere to sit forgotten. Then years later, it was possibly sold off at an estate auction.
“It’s in wonderful condition,” Glassy said, with just a touch of age apparent in the occasional leaky treat behind the protective plastic.
He said the original case sparked a sentimental note for all who saw it.
“I get so many comments. They say ‘I bought those with pennies’ and ‘that was my favourite’.
“It takes people right back to their childhood.”
The Kootingal local said he had been collecting petroleum memorabilia for more than 15 years but can’t resist a rare find, saying he’d often found treasures in antique and vintage stores.
Glassy has hundreds of collectables and memorabilia items jam-packed into his “man cave” or home garage.
He applied to be part of the show last month when they travelled to Tamworth to film at Bunnings, and said the show’s producers jumped on the case ahead of his other treasures, which included a 1930s enamel Bushell’s clock and hand-signed Beatles photo.
“They were very excited about it. They called it the star of the show,” Glassy said.
The case has been valued at between $600 and $5000, but as it’s the highlight of his collection, he won’t be parting with it.
“If Allens came to me tomorrow and offered me $10,000, I wouldn’t take it,” he said.
“I think it’s very unique and probably one of a kind throughout the world.”