Iowa Business Card Collector & Business Card Archive Curator
Written By: Ryan John DeVries May 15th, 2004
It was at least fifteen years ago when I traded business cards with Walter Day from Fairfield, Iowa on a regular basis. Originally, I came across his name in a newsletter from the American Business Card Club. Many times I would select a member at random and then write to see if they would be interested in trading business cards from their area for cards of mine from my region. Some members would write back and begin trading business cards. Walter was one of the many individuals that returned my request to trade business cards and we did so into the early 1990's. Due to illness in my family I put my hobby on the shelf for a few years in the mid to late nineties. That also ended my trading frequency with my collector friend Walter Day.
Several years later I joined the International Business Card Club and saw an offer from my long lost trader friend Walter Day. Walter in the years we did not keep in touch had established his "Business Card Archive" and had also acquired two transport trailers full of business cards from Atlanta, Georgia in 1992 from a well-known Foundation.
Walter had at least five million of his own business cards with the Business Card Archive and then millions more with the addition of the two forty-five foot transport trailers full of cards. In the fall of 2000, Walter Day made a public offer to any member of the International Business Card Club who could drive to Fairfield, Iowa to come and pick up a few million business cards to add to their collections free of charge.
In October 2000, I drove down to retrieve some of the many business cards Walter had offered. It was also a chance for me to meet my once trader and collector friend. When I arrived I met a fellow named David Mixom whom was hired to assist in the loading of the U-haul pull behind trailer that I had rented from a local farmer and U-haul distributor in Fairfield.
I loaded my 1996 Chevy Silverado long box bed right up to the Truck Topper. Since I had the U-Haul already connected we proceeded to load the pull behind trailer until it was full. I had read similar reports of Walter's mint green two-story house and the rooms totally full of cards. Eddie Robberts reported similar descriptions of Walter's house when she visited in October 1999. One year later, I too got to see for myself the stacks and stacks of business cards. Small boxes, large boxes and garbage bags full of business cards were everywhere all through the house. The only instruction we received was not to take any insert sheets for business card storage. Binders that were already assembled were to be left untouched also.
The basement had sustained some water damaged and some of the cards lay on the floor in moisture. It was very difficult walking on top of business cards that I would have preferred to pick up, salvage and add to my collection. It didn't take long to discover that most will be saved from the depths of Walter's basement. I certainly did my share of removing approximately 2 million business cards. Many had to be incinerated and recycled but many were added to my binders and my overall collection.
The trip back to Canada was interesting to say the least. When I arrived at the Bluewater Bridges in Port Huron, Michigan and Point Edward, Ontario I was greeted with an interested Canadian Immigration Officer. I had the foresight to realize that many questions could potentially be asked when I returned home about the intent of two million business cards so I had Walter Day draft a letter of collection transferal. The letter basically described Walter and I as long time friends and that I was accepting a part of his business card collection. The letter outlined the business cards had very little commercial value.
The Immigration Officer had a few good chuckles and invited the neighboring Officers that weren't busy in their kiosks to come and check out the situation he was presented. He handed the letter around to several of the Officers and many laughs and signs of disbelief appeared on their faces. However, they did not pull me over into secondary check to observe the contents nor did they detain me for any longer. It was a modern day miracle. I thought for sure they were going to compound my truck and the contents until a thorough investigation was held. Thankfully, I got home in the mid afternoon and spent the remainder of my day off-loading the one hundred and ten apple boxes of business cards. Each box was said to have approximately 25,000 business cards in them.
Others collectors that are known to have stopped in to collect cards from Walter are Vicky Lovett, Betty Crow, Jimmy Richards, Eddie Robberts, John Haffner and Ryan DeVries.
Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry to get to Fairfield, Iowa I missed the photo opportunity with Walter Day because I neglected to bring my camera with me.
Walter Day is attending the Indianapolis Business Card Convention in August 2004.
I will be attending so maybe I can get my picture with him there.
It is because of the generosity of individuals like Walter Day that many business card collectors worldwide have benefited by receiving business cards through the distribution of what we now refer to as "Walter Day" business cards.
Thank you very much Walter Day!