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Roar of the Rings

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The Pin Man a familiar face among curlers

Collection totals more than 17,200

Posted: 12/4/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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 Keith Forbes shows off some of his collectible curling pins during Roar of the Rings Tuesday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Keith Forbes shows off some of his collectible curling pins during Roar of the Rings Tuesday. Photo Store

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From simple pin collector to curling historian: that's the shift in status Keith Forbes has skipped through in recent years.

But this change, the one where his vast curling pin collection is considered more than just a hobby to outside parties, doesn't affect his day-to-day life much. If you have a pin to trade, if you have an offer to make, he'll sit down and listen to what you have to say.

It's a Manitoba pin-terest story.

"I'm always looking for pins I don't have," the 73-year-old from Hartney said during the noon hour inside the MTS Centre concourse Tuesday. Forbes is showing just a fraction of his massive curling pin collection -- which totals more than 17,200 pins -- at the Roar of the Rings Olympic trials this week.

"As far as the historian title, I don't know. I hope people look at me that way. I'd like to think that what I have here has some history to it. I guess that's for other people to decide."

Forbes, who also goes by 'The Pin Man,' has been collecting for 53 years. He has pins from curling clubs that no longer exist. He has pins from junior bonspiels you have never heard of. Big pins and little pins. There are pins from Briers, Scotties and world championships. Forbes even has a sterling silver pin the size of a hockey puck, which was given to him by a woman when he was in Switzerland in 1974.

The lineage of that pin traces back to the Swedish monarchy.

"I'm sure it's worth something," he laughed.

The one pin he covets, the one he doesn't have: a 1914 Manitoba Curling Association pin. Forbes figures 100 were made, and most of those ended up on dignitaries who witnessed the provincial championship that year.

"I really want that pin," he said. "I've been after it for a while."

The important historical aspect to Forbes' work has led to some conversations about what the future holds for his collection. It will probably stay within the family, Forbes admits, as thoughts it could land at the Canadian Curling Association are just that at this point.

"People like Keith keep the history of the game this way," offered Barry Taman, who works for Laurie Artiss, the company that makes most of the curling pins you'll see around the house and the hack. "There are pins here that are over 100 years old. (Pins) were the business cards for curlers back then."

From the time Bruce Hudson, a former Canadian champion in the 1920s, gave him a box of 56 pins at the old Strathcona Curling Club in 1959, Forbes and his wife, Maxine, have found themselves immersed in the collector's life. It's been a simple compromise, she said. He has always been on the lookout for pins, while she lets him, and together they travel to major national and international curling events, forming alliances with other collectors.

"When we met, this was all just starting," Maxine said. "At the time, I thought it might just fade away but it never did. We've met a lot of people over the years, so you can't complain."

Unfortunately, as the seriousness of sponsorship dollars and big prize money have muscled their way into the social aspect of curling, the roaring game is a changed game. A generational turnover has taken place and pin collecting, once a shine to the experience, has lost some of its lustre.

While Forbes' collection holds significant value -- a number into six figures wouldn't be an outlandish estimate, he confirms -- it's the social connection around the collection that keeps him interested.

He says the first few days at the big national events are like a family reunion, everyone catching up on each other's lives while swapping stories and pins and stories about pins.

Forbes may not have the Martin, Howard or Stoughton handle but as one of the veteran curling pin collectors in Canada, there's a bit of celebrity attached to his presence.

"I'm getting to the stage now where I see so many faces that I can't remember everyone's name," he said. "It's a good problem to have."

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 4, 2013 A10

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