Col­lec­tor hopes to crown long fix­a­tion

Civil ser­vant owns more than 10,000 bot­tle caps, wants to hold ex­hi­bi­tion

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By TIAN XUEFEI and ZHOU HUIYING in­Harbin Con­tact the writ­ers at tianx­ue­fei@ chi­ and zhouhuiy­ing@ chi­

Most peo­ple wouldn’t think twice about dis­card­ing an old bot­tle cap once it has served its pur­pose, but for Sun Yang these small metal cu­rios have be­come an ob­ses­sion.

The 32-year-old civil ser­vant from Harbin, Hei­longjiang prov­ince, has col­lected more than 10,000 bot­tle caps over the past six years, in­clud­ing 4,500 from do­mes­tic beer brands, 4,000 from for­eign beer brands and more than 2,000 from other bev­er­ages.

His col­lec­tion is con­sid­ered one of the best in­China, where there are thought to be around 200 ac­tive col­lec­tors, but iron­i­cally — given the num­ber of beer bot­tle tops he has — Sun is tee­to­tal.

“In fact, I amal­ler­gic to al­co­hol and never drink it, so be­fore 2010, I never paid at­ten­tion to beer or any other kinds of al­co­hol,” he said.

“Then, when I was on an on­line shop­ping site, a photo of dozens of dif­fer­ent bot­tle caps caught my eye. It looked quite spe­cial and beau­ti­ful.”

Sun sent a mes­sage to the ven­dor, and was sur­prised to dis­cover that the man who replied was one of China’s top col­lec­tors of bot­tle caps.

“He told­melots about bot­tle caps, which sparked my in­ter­est in col­lect­ing them,” Sun said.

“In or­der to get some caps, I bought more than 20 kinds of beer from dif­fer­ent su­per­mar­kets — but be­cause I never drink, I had to in­vite sev­eral of my friends over to come have din­ner atmy home.

“They were all very dizzy by the time all the beer was fin­ished.”

The bot­tle caps that Sun col­lects are known as “crown corks”, made of metal with a se­ries of in­den­ta­tions around the side.

“Great care is needed when choos­ing the caps. Some look quite sim­i­lar at first, but af­ter check­ing care­fully, you will see that caps from dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods can have lots of dif­fer­ences in color, type­faces and even the in­ner glue cush­ions.”

For ex­am­ple, Sun­has col­lected more than 160 Harbin Beer caps from dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods.

Out­side of his job, all Sun thinks about is col­lect­ing bot­tle caps.

He has caps from al­most all the pro­vin­cial re­gions in China and in his free time, he of­ten drives to far-flung brew­eries and re­cy­cling cen­ters to see what he can find.

Not ev­ery­one un­der­stands his ob­ses­sion, how­ever.

“In 2014, I went to a brew­ery in Songyuan, Jilin prov­ince,” he said.

“I asked the work­ers there if they could get me some bot­tle caps from the fac­tory and even promised to pay for them, but af­ter wait­ing for two hours none of them agreed. I think some of them thought I was mak­ing fake beer.”

Sun didn’t give up though, and on the sec­ond day, he re­turned to the brew­ery and met with the man­ager.

“I showed her the pho­tos of my col­lec­tion on my mo­bile phone and told hermy sto­ries. She was moved by my per­sis­tence and helped me find lots of old caps from the fac­tory,” Sun said.

Since 2010, Sun has spent more than 60,000 yuan ($8,850) on his col­lec­tion — ei­ther buy­ing caps di­rectly from sell­ers or buy­ing the beer that they come with.

“As I recall, the most ex­pen­sive cap I have cost 400 yuan, which made some peo­ple be­lieve I must be crazy,” he said.

“Some­times when I visit other cities I buy a newkind of beer, keep the cap and leave the rest. Peo­ple of­ten give me weird looks.

“But there are still plenty of bot­tle caps that I haven’t got. In the fu­ture, I will con­tinue to find more and I hope I can hold an ex­hi­bi­tion one day.”

Sun Yang is a lead­ing col­lec­tor of bot­tle caps.

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