A Passionate Hobby Becomes Something Big for Local Developer
After 50 years of collecting advertising pieces from around the world, Michael Pollack was awarded the Guinness World Records title for the Largest Collection of Advertising Statues in the world with 8,917 pieces.
Pollack started collecting vintage advertising memorabilia at the age of 12. As a young entrepreneur, he would buy electric beer signs at the flea market in San Jose, California, for a few dollars and then spend several hours fixing them up for resale to antique stores for a substantial profit.
At 23, Pollack’s hobby transformed into a significant business venture when he discovered a whole warehouse filled with more than 150 animated, life-size advertising figures made by the Paul Stanley Company from the 1940s and 1950s.
“I couldn’t believe we found the long-lost Paul Stanley collection,” said Pollack.
The simple beginning of collecting pieces from flea markets ultimately became a worldwide search for the missing advertising pieces in his incredible collection. His travels have taken him all over the world, including Asia, Europe and Russia looking for pieces to add to his ever-growing three-dimensional advertising collection, some dating back to the 1800s.
Pieces like the life-size Bosch statue he brought back from Germany. It’s a pre-World War II piece that someone in Germany had the presence of mind to protect during the war by concealing inside a coffin in a basement of an old dilapidated brick building in East Berlin.
Among the favorites are the mechanical Barringer Displays that were never sold but only leased to jewelry stores between 1937 thru 1977.
Almost 40 years after purchasing that warehouse filled with the rare Paul Stanley displays, Pollack’s three-dimensional collection is exhibited in his personal advertising museum, which is secured and always at the perfect temperature for preservation. It is truly a treat for your eyes, as well as your senses, when the light switches are turned on and the room comes to life with the sights and sounds of advertising history.
The collection is not open to the public but being a true philanthropist, Pollack will occasionally host private charitable events in the museum. Select pieces are often handpicked and showcased at his Pollack Tempe Cinemas, located on the southeast corner of McClintock and Elliot roads. The collection can also be viewed at PollackAdvertisingMuseum.com.
“I wouldn’t call it a hobby,” said Pollack, “I have always been fascinated with advertising and it’s more like I am the curator of all of this incredible history. My goal when I started collecting was to preserve advertising pieces from around the world for future generations. It never occurred to me that I was going to set a world record someday.”
Although only Pollack knows the true value of his collection, his response to the question is always, “priceless because it’s not for sale.”