Monday, August 11, 2008

Currency

The sticker may be the single most valuable form of currency in the bike world. On the surface, stickers are created equal, but upon closer inspection, stickers, like currencies, have differing values. Don't get me wrong, all stickers are important, but like teaching the value of money to a child, five singles are not as valuable as a twenty dollar bill. Here is a brief tutorial on the denominations of the sticker world.

Loose change - Loose change stickers have the lowest value and are often affixed to common, daily items such as travel mugs, the backs of your MP3 player and, on occasion, they are used to make minor repairs in place of tape. In the bike retail world, these are the stickers that find their way to garbage cans, parts bins, and new guy's tool box.

Singles - Singles have a bit higher value than loose change. Like the dollar bill, you would step off the curb to grab one of these. Singles are often a bit larger or offer a cool die-cut shape. Singles are also good for daily items (see above), but their value makes them good for the bumper of your car, the window in the service area, or maybe to cover a rust spot on the trusty '85 Ford shop van.

Fivers and the Ten Spot - Close in relation to one another, the value of the Fiver and the Ten spot is often determined by your love and personal investment in the message delivered by the sticker. A Sun Records decal carries more weight than a Sidi sticker that came with your shoes. Both are cool, but until Elvis records a historically relevant tune at Sidi HQ, the Sun sticker trumps. Fivers and tens are perfect for your tool box, even if you are a clean aesthetics kind of cyclist. One of these babies would make the clean lines of your roller cabinet that much tighter.

Twenty and the Five-0 - Now we are talking about some serious booh-kooh. If lost, the twenty and the Five-0 are the type of decals that are mourned and even warrant a bit of eBay time to try and find a replacement. Stickers like these are never wasted on short term items like cars, computers, or rental apartment refrigerators. The battle over where to place these gems is sure to be waged in your mind. Like your retirement savings strategy, think long-term.

Hundos - The largest of the folders, hundos represent the top of the sticker heap. These stickers can be any size, any vintage, and any area of interest. The value of the hundo is so great that often you hang on to it for years, waiting for the right place to affix such a valuable commodity.

Rare and Precious - Some adhesive-backed images were never meant to be adhered, plain and simple. The rare and precious are worthy of a designation greater than sticker, they are elevated to the designation of decal. Decals are coveted, they are the reason you have a sticker drawer, or special plastic bag in which all decals are stored. Some decals may be twenty plus years old and have only seen the light of day on very rare occasions; they may even have a home inside a bag inside the bag. Decals may never have their backs peeled off and their stickiness may never be realized. But like a collectable postage stamp, or an antique pistol, their worth is not measured by their functionality but rather by their pure essence.

As long as I have been a cyclist, stickers have always brought a simple joy. As a kid, I would run from booth to booth at the bike shows collecting stickers. Later in life, as I walk the isles, I still find myself pulled to booths, which among other things, has a pile of cool stickers on their table. Like cycling itself, the hunt for the perfect sticker keeps me young at heart.

19 comments:

PEANUT said...

Well said.

Marla...O.A.F. with altitude said...

Oh, I understand this so well!

Anonymous said...

Nice sticker story - can totally relate.

I have a collection myself - new ones and others going back 25 years or so. As you so perfectly described, some are disposable, others keepers.

Will I ever stick my oldest/coolest on anything? Probably not. I've been saving 'em for the perfect bike room (never seems to happen) or my own bike shop (quite doubtful).

Maybe when I finally keel over - will have the family plaster 'em all over my coffin.

Kind of cool - or maybe just a bit creepy, eh?

Dan O

Anonymous said...

This particular post reminds me that BKW is the best, most Pro and in-the-know cycling blog in the universe.
Ted

Anonymous said...

Now see, wasn't that more fun to write than the preachy phase you went through.

Roman Holiday said...

Drop me an address at keepitstreetlevel@gmail.com & I'll drop you the last free Straight Chain Love Sticker.

rosey said...

that's a much better post than the doping recaps and opinions of the summer. keep it up radio!

Chuck Walter said...

I have a huge sticker collection and just want you to know that the BKW stickers have been added to it. Now if I could just find the right place to put them.

Kid Wonder said...

I am planning to bring an arsenal of embrocations out to the cyclocross races in a burly toolbox. That'd be a good spot for the BKW stickers!

Anonymous said...

HUP.

Anonymous said...

coming from a person with a 'sticker box' i love the topic. bkw again takes on a very pro subject however, i have a very strict sticker rule, almost as stirct as a embro. ritual. it comes from the past sports i have been involved in...if you are not payed to show it, keep it in the box...explains why i have a nice collection in my beloved sticker box

MtMann said...

Exactly. I must say, this year's NAHBS was the Mecca for sticker collectors, and Richard Sach's booth was the Ka'bah around which the devotees circled. Sweetest stickers in my collection came from there - retro cool.

Anonymous said...

Name some favorites! Mine is an MV Agusta sticker (very rare Italian moto--very few shippd to the states) that was meant for the individual motorcycle crates. very rare

Anonymous said...

When I was a junior I used to bum rides from a guy with a really beat up old Dodge van covered in cycling stickers. This guy used to try to sell us stickers for like $10 bucks a piece (in the 80's). Deep in the game, we would buy the stickers despite the cruel inflation and muse that his van must be "worth a million bucks..."
Ted

Emily said...

I recently finally affixed my Club Devo "Toil Is Stupid" sticker to something and have been regretting my choice of placement ever since.

Anonymous said...

while we're using slang here, i'd just like to say that what's sweeping philadelphia right now is the use of the term "hobo hundred" for a ten dollar bill. keep it up.

-p said...

Drop me an email at paul @ nippleworks.com and a sticker will be on it's way to you.

Jon said...

Would there be a chance that perhaps a run of BKW stickers would be made? I would LOVE to have something on the back of the scooter to stare at while motorpacing. A beacon of discipline in a time of discomfort - yes please!

Radio Freddy said...

Jon,

thanks for your comment. Please contact BKW friend Chad at Above Category in Mill Valley. He has some BKW stickers.

Above Category
38 Millwood St.
Mill Valley, CA 94941
P: 415.389.5461