Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BRUNSWICK'S TREASURES; Memorabilia Collector Explains: 'I'm Just Drawn to This Old Stuff'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BRUNSWICK'S TREASURES; Memorabilia Collector Explains: 'I'm Just Drawn to This Old Stuff'

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

BRUNSWICK -- A century and a half after its charter, Brunswick is celebrating an anniversary this year.

Stephen Hart celebrates the city's history every day with what may be the most extensive collection of memorabilia from long-gone businesses, landmarks and government agencies. He knows the history of most, but some, like two Brunswick Fire Department badges, he can only guess.

Looking at badge No. 1, Hart said, "It's old. I can tell. Looks like 1880 or something.''

The collection, along with his wife Peggy's genealogical collection, occupies what would be a small library or study at their house on Oak Grove Island northwest of Brunswick. Much of it is easily and permanently identified as coming from Brunswick, such as the glass bottles with raised letters identifying their former contents as liquor, beer or medicine from Brunswick. He has a box that once held Brunswick Gold cigars and a wooden crate marked Have-A-Glynn cigars.

Some of the items were free.

"I walked the dumps, hit the mud banks,'' he said.

Those were sometimes the same things because Brunswick used to haul its trash to the edge of the marsh and dump it. He also goes to antique stores and leaves business cards with the request, "I collect Brunswick, anything Brunswick," he said.

Anything includes glass swizzle sticks from the former Oglethorpe Hotel, Brunswick Bottling and Manufacturing bottles, posters from The Little Theatre of Brunswick and a lot of crock whiskey jugs.

One urges, "Drink Paul Jones pure whiskies. Douglas and Morgan.''

His Coca-Cola bottle collection dates to the days when the glass containers had straight sides and raised letters showing it was bottled in Brunswick. Leaning in the corner is a hand-carved rice huller from the plantation days. It resembles a big maul. Hart got it free.

"A guy was going to take it to the dump. I said, 'Do you know what this is?' '' he said. The man replied, "Trash. Going to the dump.''

There are things he found in old hog pens poured out with the slop and others that are family treasures people insisted he take, perhaps because they knew he valued history and would never part with them. …

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