Part of the fun of any collection is deciding what to collect and how to choose what is going to get placed
upon your shelves. I use words like "optimist" and "prefer" to allow for me to display cans from as many places
as I can.
I started collecting in 1976 when my father was working for Naval Intelligence near Washington D.C.. My older
brother Mike was in high school and beer can collecting became the "in" thing to do. Mike began to ride his
bike out into the countryside to find cans for his collection. I was easily led astray, soon I was riding out
from Fairfax to Prince William, Loudon, and other neighboring counties with a trash bag for beer cans hanging from my
handle bar. I am sure if our kids did this now, Val and I would get a call from Child Services for endangerment...
Anyway, one day in 1976 I came home after a seven hour ride with a bag of cans and Mike said "So are you collecting now?
I sold the collection yesterday". I was at first bewildered, and then defiantly retorted "YES!"
A few years later, close friends of my grandparents went on a trip through South America and brought me back a few cans.
The following summer my folks went to Norway, France, and the U.K.. I thought I was the only collector that had cans
from such far away places! By the time I was in college my Dad was selected to be Commodore Fleet Training Group in
GITMO. My mom decided that the collection was not going to be shipped to Cuba, so a couple of large boxes showed up
at the fraternity house steps. From college in Maine I went on to graduate school, and while in Philadelphia I finally
joined the BCCA. I then came across the OC/OC (One Can/One Country) chapter of the BCCA and realized that I was missing so
many countries. It was at this point I decided that I was not going to compete with Jeff Lebo and try to amass 10's
of thousands of cans... I needed to focus.
I decided to collect a few cans from each part of the world. I have always enjoyed travel, geography and graphics,
so it has turned out to be a great fit - well Val might want to debate that a little. I now have over five thousand
cans displayed and they really are not fitting in my beer can den well at all. I try to display every can in the collection,
so finding another few inches of shelving is always on my mind. I try to get the first can from every place in
the world that has a flag.
Now that you have taken so much time to read the above, I will get to why I put this page on the website. I
am often asked: "How many countries have cans?" The answer is like so much else in this world, "it depends". There
are some One Can/One Country collectors who have decided that only a "real" beer (must have an alcoholic content) brewed and
canned in a country counts. Many expand the definition to include beer cans brewed and canned specifically
for another country with something indisputable on the can label. A few others add to this non-alcoholic malt beverages,
still others include lid stamps, and a few "optimists", LIKE ME, will even display cans that they have from a reliable
source that swears the can was purchased in a country even if the can does not have anything specific on the can.
In addition, the world has not quite agreed on what constitutes a country. For instance a government
official from China would not appreciate the country status my collection bestows Taiwan. The island "country"
of Aruba voted to become more independent of The Netherlands, and is now one of the "Constiuent Countries of The Netherlands"
which might be a bit like what Scotland is to Great Britain? Celebration Lager was released in Bophuthatswana
in 1987 but only South Africa decreed it an independent country. Yet another question would be a country that changes
its name and flag: Ceylon to Sri Lanka, Burma to Myanmar, Yugoslavia to Serbia & Montengro to now just Serbia. If
you like to learn about the world's countries, keeping track through OC/OC is certainly a flavorful one.
By the way, most OC/OCers really collect "at least one can from each country".
Then there are a dozen or so questionable cans I have, like the Holsten Lemon (non-alcoholic malt beverage) can
that was handed to Bruno Bianco in Mauritania. It was purchased in that parched and "dry" part of the world but has
nothing on the can -even a price sticker- that hints to its "provenance". The West End Export can made for the
Pope's visit to Australia in 1986 is sometimes listed as for the Vatican. So if you are looking for certainty,
you might want to narrow your definition.
THE LISTING THAT YOU CAN DOWNLOAD ON THE "LIST" PAGE IS IN NO WAY OFFICIAL. It is just my way of
looking at things. Every collector should decide for themselves. Beyond this list I also collect cans from
each state, province, territory, lander, prefecture, canton, colony etc... that has a flag. I try to get a local brand
of alcoholic malt beverage from each country/place, and I prefer the "first". Next best for me is a non-alcoholic malt
beverage brewed and canned within the borders of the place, followed by a specific import. After that
is gets to be fuzzy- like a commemorative can made for an event in the country (The Eku made for a soccer event in Burkina
Faso for instance), or a can with a lid stamp, or then maybe a can with a import sticker... from there it can get really flimsy
such as the Holsten can mentioned above or a Moussy brought back from Ethiopia.