I have always had an interest in collecting different types of items. When I was a child I was interested in collecting rocks. You might say that I was an amateur rock-hound. My family and I became a member of the San Francisco Gem and Mineral Society (SFGMS) and the society would sponsor field trips to different areas where its members would go and search for what that particular area was known to offer. For instance, I remember one such filed trip where we went to Calistoga to look for pyrite nuggets commonly known and referred to as fools gold due it strongly resembling real gold. I remember this field trip well because I came down with a horrible case of poison oak from hiking around in the countryside searching for rocks that contained pyrite nuggets. Another field trip was a trip to Drake's Bay, located just north of San Francisco, where we went to look for petrified whale bone. This trip was a good one because a lot of great petrified whale bone was found.
The SFGMS had a building they rented where they had a lot of lapidary equipment. They offered classes on how to take what you found and make it into a cabochon, a stone for a ring, a bolo tie clasp, a bracelet, etc. I participated in these classes and made several pieces of jewelry from the semi-precious stones I found during the field trips.
After this hobby, I became interested in coin collecting and to this day I still have an interest in coins and am a life member of the American Numismatic Association and have been a dealer at their annual Worlds Fair of Money show which is held in a major city during the summer each year. The Worlds Fair of Money show is the ANA's largest event and it attracts people from all over the world and several foreign countries have exhibits/booths showing and selling their coins and currency freshly minted from their equivalent of our Bureau of Printing and Engraving.
When I graduated from college my first job was working as an engineer. A man that I worked with, Scotty, wore an antique pocket watch and this watch's intricate movement, solid gold engraved case, and hand painted fancy dial fascinated me. Well, I just had to find one to buy but during that era the Internet had yet to be invented and pocket watch collecting was not a very well recognized hobby so I could not advertise effectively or use word of mouth to find a watch.
I therefore placed an ad in a throw-away newspaper that was short, simple, and to the point. It read, "Wanted; old pocket watches, any condition" and included my phone number. I received calls from people in San Francisco and would drive to their home and buy their watch if it interested me. Many years later when pocket watch collecting became a main stream hobby and my income was such that I could afford high-end type antique watches, I used the internet to connect me with very well-known people in the field and auction houses that specialized in the sale of such items. I then began acquiring pocket watches that were in like-new condition even though they were well over 100 years old. I made a concerted effort to find pocket watches that had quality movements, perfect dials (most have hairline cracks in their ceramic/porcelain surface), and cases made from precious metal (gold or silver). The hobby has interested me so much that I am an active member in the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) and I have begun attending and exhibiting at the national NAWCC yearly convention.