I started collecting flying discs as a result of the game of disc golf. Most people have heard of Frisbee, so an easy way to put it is Frisbee Golf. I had played catch with a disc but the game of disc golf got me into many different kinds of golf discs. That was the summer of 1981.
Just like in golf where you have many different clubs, there are many different discs that fly differently, i.e., straight, left or right, as well as putters, mid- and long-range discs. I had many favorite discs that I needed backups for. There was always a new disc coming out and I had to try them all to see if they would help my game.
Later, I started collecting custom-stamped discs from events I played or as a souvenir from courses I played from around the country. I have played at least one course in 25 states so far. I would bring a custom-stamped disc from our local course (Skyline Wilderness Park) and work a trade with people from other places. I met a lot of people and many were collectors.
I was interested in collecting discs, but as I talked to people, I found everyone had their own ideas about collecting. While searching for an authority, I found a shop in Buena Park, Calif., that sold discs. I went in and asked for a collectible. They gave me a funny look and asked what niche I was looking to collect in.
I did not know what I wanted, so when I left, I had a Wham-O 50 with a “mold scribble signature.” According to the story I was told, the winners from the World Frisbee Championships were not getting compensation for their signatures and decided to not participate in the manufacture of a commemorative disc. So Wham-O released a disc with the famous scribble signature. I loved the story and was hooked.
Finally, in 1998, Victor A. Malafronte, the original world champion from 1974, came out with “The Complete Book of Frisbee.” Now I had a bunch of historic flying disc stories as well as a price guide. I set out to get as many discs as I could that were listed in the book.
The book taught me about older discs, like the very first plastic flying disc made by Fred Morrison in 1948, the raised-letter Flyin-Saucer and the American Trends Pluto Platter, also made by Morrison in 1955.
With the Pluto Platter, I now had a goal of holy grail status. Fewer that 12 of each disc are known to collectors to this day. I have a first-run Fly-in Saucer and two American Trends Pluto Platters.
In 2001, I was in the Seattle area playing the game I love and heard of Ralph Williamson, a 10-time World Disc Golf Champion as well as a multi-time Frisbee Champion at other flying disc sports. Ralph had a Frisbee museum at his house, so I invited myself over to have a look at the collection. His collection was for sale and about a year later I purchased it.
I got an instant Frisbee education. Over the years I sold off many of the duplicates, upgraded many discs and filled in gaps in the collection.
In 2006, Phil Kennedy co-wrote “Flat Flip Flies Straight” with Fred Morrison, and this book helped get the story straight about the true origins of the Frisbee. The book contained photos of 14 retoolings of the Flying Saucer as well as info on eight retoolings of the Pluto Platter. I am one of only two people who have a example of all the Pluto Platters, Phil being the other.
I also have nine of the 14 retoolings of the Flying Saucer, so I would say those other five are what is missing in my collection.
Today my collection numbers 4,500 flying discs. Along the way I have picked up many rare and hard-to-find discs, as well as a few that are one-of-a-kind.
You can see much of my collection at MarvinsFlyingDiscCollection.com.