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The CANsMART Interview

Jay Herbein began collecting beer cans in August of 1967, back before there were clubs dedicated to the hobby. Like many other collectors, his hobby began by accident...he didn't intend on becoming a beer can collector...it just sort of happened. A caving enthusiast, Jay was attending a caving gathering of the Mid Appalacian Region cavers group. During the weekend-long camping gathering, activities mostly centered around talking caving with other cavers, (don't call them spelunkers!), and , of course, drinking beer. It was here that Jay first noticed all the interesting-looking brands and designs, many of which he had never seen before. He picked a few up and took them home. His very first can was a Piels Draft. Jay knows this because he is a meticulous record-keeper. He has kept a record of every can in his collection: where he got it from, how much he paid, etc...
Jay didn't find out about the BCCA, they found out about him! One day, out of the blue, he received a letter from them asking him if he would like to join this new club dedicated to collecting beer cans. At first, Jay was apprehensive, because at that time the BCCA required all new members to send them a list of all of their cans. (This later became known as the composite list). At that time he had well over 1,000 cans in his collection, and it seemed a very daunting project. The BCCA soon relaxed their membership requirements and Jay became BCCA#353 about a year later. There have been many memorable events over the years. Particularly memorable were the excellent Southern Tier Chapter shows in Deposit, New York, back in the eighties. For some reason, it always seemed to rain during these shows, and Jay was sleeping in a tent (not a good combination). One year the weather was particularly hostile (it rained "like the hammers of Hell"), and Jay had to let his cans occupy the tent while he slept in the van. (A collector will do just about anything to add a few cans to his collection!)______________Below: a nice selection of Pennsylvania flat tops.
For years, Jay collected cans from around the world. Like most of us, he soon ran out of display space. He then decided to specialize in Pennsylvania cans, Harley and other motorcycle cans (Jay had a scooter when he was a teenager), Old Cars cans and domestic gallons and 5 litres. His Pennsylvania cans now number about 1,700. It is quite an amazing collection, as these photos testify.
Jay is a member of ABA, BCCA, and ECBA(#30). He is a Charter member of the Keystone Chapter (founded in 1975), and is a tireless contributor to the Brand Changes column of Beer Cans and Brewery Collectibles magazine. His years of volunteer work with the Keystone Chapter is one of the main reasons for their success. He has won numerous awards for his displays. In 1990, he won the open category at the Canvention in East Rutherford, New Jersey. In 1994 he won the Flat top category in Nashville, Tennessee. He has been instrumental in helping to design and build the Big Beer Brotherhood displays which won best overall awards in 1996 (Indianapolis), 1998 (Little Rock), and 2000 (Mobile).
Jay resides in Harrisburg, PA with his wife, Kathaleen. They have three sons: Mike, Scott and Keith. They also have one grandson and another one on the way!Their dog, Spunky, is spoiled rotten, according to Jay.
More terrific flats and cones from Jay's collection.
*If you are a beer can collector, and would like to be considered for a future issue of FEATURED COLLECTOR, please email us by clicking on the "Contact Us" link.
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