Everybody has some sort of weird habit or fixation. For Casey Mills of Keizer, Oregon, collecting surf wax has become a passion and fixation. With over 2,000 bars of wax in his possession, he may be the only surfer better stocked than a Sticky Bumps warehouse.
How many bars are in your collection?
It is likely that I have somewhere between 2200 and 2700 bars but I have lost count. Please realize that the number is high because there are some bars I have several of (i.e. 1980's Bubble Gum, Ganja, and many others I have 20+ bars of each). I have bars from all over the world dating back to the 1950's household Parowax. In terms of the number of "different bars" I have, that depends on who you ask. For example, many waxes come in a variety of temperatures. Thus, I consider all of those to be "different bars" for two main reasons: 1) The labels are usually different and 2) If I have 1 cold bar and 1 cool bar of the same wax and someone wants to trade, I will only trade if their bar is of equal or greater value [in my opinion]. Otherwise, I stay put and hang on to what I have. After all, the label and the artwork is really what it's all about; I collect labels as well. A label is collectible without the wax but the wax is typically not collectible without the label. Thus, having the wax and label together is priceless.
What's the rarest bar you own?
I am not sure I could pick out a single rarest bar in my collection (or in other collections that I am aware of). However, based on my experience, research, and conversations with folks all over the world (mostly USA and Australia), genuine and authentic bars from the 1970's appear to be of the rarest and most sought after.
Do you have a favorite bar or brand?
If I had to choose a bar I felt most connected to, it would have to be my pristine bar of Val Surf Wax made by Wax Research in 1972 (www.surfwaxmuseum.com gallery 2, page 13); it looks brand new and is still in its original wrapping. I was born in 1972 and basically grew up in the original Val Surf Shop in North Hollywood, CA that the bar was made for. This bar was Wax Research's first "private label" bar.
What's the most you've paid for a single bar of wax?
The most I have paid for a single bar of wax is probably close to $100 but there are way too many factors that go into such a cost (i.e. authenticity, year produced, number produced, current condition, trading, etc.). On average, a bar from the 70's can sell for $20 – $75; a bar from the 80's can sell for $10 – $35; a bar from the 90's can sell for $5 – $20. Yes, I have saved a ton of information and I am working on creating the first "price/value guide" for surf wax. If it can be done for surfboards, sports cards, coins, and other collectibles, then it can be done for surf wax.
What would you say is the most interesting thing about wax?
One of the most unique things about the surf wax industry is its ability to change with the times in terms of what is used to make the actual wax (i.e. going from petrol and chemical based products of the early day to the present day "green" waxes with less chemicals and more natural ingredients). I also find it interesting that the retail price for a bar of surf wax has virtually remained unchanged over the past 40 years: Anywhere from $.25 to $1.50 (on average). Compare that to the retail price of a surfboard.