ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For Ed Scoglietti, finding old beer cans is not just a hobby, it’s a passion.
Scoglietti and his twin brother, Dan Scoglietti, have scoured the West looking for old beer cans that they display on shelves in their homes.
But the Scogliettis are not alone in this. As a matter of fact, 100s of similar collector of beer cans and beer-related advertising will be descending on the Albuquerque Convention Center Aug. 29-31 for the 49th annual Brewery Collectibles Club of America meeting and trade swap, called a CANvention, of course.
Beer can collecting was quite a fad that swept the country’s youth during the 1970s and ’80s, and many kept up with the hobby through years.
“It was probably back in 1973 when I lived in Chicago and all the kids seemed to start collecting beer cans,” Ed Scoglietti said of his beginning in the hobby. “There was a kid down the street that had a collection and I saw it and I thought, ‘Hey that’s pretty cool. And so we’d go around on our 10-speeds (bicycles) and pick up all the cans in our neighborhood. That’s how we started.”
Their interest grew as they continued to collect.
“After we picked up all the cans that we could find along the road, we started looking for old farm dumps,” he said. “We we’d go farther and farther out there. There was a forest preserve and there was a hillside and we saw some junk on it and it was loaded with beer cans. We dug that thing for years. It was all Chicago cans. That’s why I love the Chicago cans.”
And so born a love for what’s known as dumping or seeking out old trash heaps that may contain beer can gold.
“We’d come home with bags of beer cans and we’d hose them off,” Scoglietti said. “We’d lay them out in the and whatever washed up we kept and whatever didn’t, we’d throw away.”
The Scogliettis eventually moved to Albuquerque and they found new hunting grounds.
“We would go to the foothills at the end of Copper. People used to party back there in the ’50s and ’60s,” he said. “We’d go back there and we’d find cans left and right. We’d drive around New Mexico. We’d drive to Socorro, we’d drive to the Pecos and drive to the Jemez.”
At first, it remained fairly unscientific.
“We’d just look across the road, you look for something white in the woods or glassish reflecting back,” Scoglietti said. “Beer cans are literally everywhere and they just throw them away. It was an instant garbage problem, a trash problem. I’ve seen old articles from the ’30s and rangers are complaining about them. Bottles would be sent back because of the deposits but beer cans had on them, ‘When empty throw away.’ ”
Eventually, however, the Scogliettis discovered metal detector, which took their treasure hunting to whole new levels.
“I bought my metal detector probably in 1983-84,” he said. “A guy looking for coins, when he sweeps his metal detector, he’s just going to get a little bleep. A little blip. What we want is a solid, going bananas, ‘whoooo.’ A big solid signal. And you can tell, after you use it for awhile, you can tell.”
The Scogliettis have found so many cans that many now reside on the shelves of fellow collectors across the country swapped at other CANventions or trade shows over the years.
The public is invited to the CANvention trade floor on Aug. 31, but may not bring in any beer items, although the local Roadrunner chapter members will have a table outside the trade room floor to assess items.
In the end, it is not so necessarily about finding the cans, it is the chance to get out and about.
“The best thing about dumping, and this is something I’ve always liked about it, it got us outside,” Ed Scoglietti said. “As far as looking for dumps and digging them up, it’s the thrill of the hunt. It’s not really the kill. When you do find something, great, but even if you don’t find anything, look at where you were for the day. Would you rather be at work or would you rather be in the mountains? But the ride home is always better when our truck is full of beer cans.”