TUCSON, Ariz. – When it comes to hobbies, James Knoff of Tucson, Ariz. has one that you might say..”ales” him. Knoff, president/CEO of Pima Federal Credit Union, is a beer collector extraordinaire. “I started collecting beer cans back in 1978 when I was an examiner for the old Falstaff Credit Union in Fort Wayne, Ind. and I was intrigued by one of those collector items, a bicentennial can they made in 1976,” recalled Knoff who now attends out-of- town beer collector conferences and trades his valued commodities on E-Bay. The 60-year-old Knoff, who is not married, says he keeps his collection of 6,400 cans in his garage, in rented space and on shelves in all the rooms in his Tucson home. “You’d think if I were married I could keep this stuff around?” laughs Knoff. His most valued items are seven “James Bond Beer” cans he bought five years ago at a National Beer Can Collectors of America show. He bought them for $3,800 and they have risen in value to $5,000 today. Knoff, who also has a “Billy Beer” can related to the brother of former President Jimmy Carter, says over the years he has collected samples of most every type of beer can – from the old “pull tabs” to flat tops and cones to crown containers. Knoff, who as a kid used to trade baseball cards “until my mother threw them out,” says he has never been a big beer drinker adding, “maybe I’ve had two beers in the last two month.” His favorite beers, he says, are foreign. “I like Corona beer from Mexico and Harp from England and Canada,” he says. When CU business is not pressing, Knoff says he tries to attend the National Beer Can Collectors conferences as well as chapter meetings covering Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. Knoff has one lament: “the demise of U.S. breweries” and fewer brands, noting that many of the old time Midwest breweries in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana closed long ago-along with the sponsor CUs. “You know I don’t even know what has happened to Falstaff-I can’t find it any longer,” says Knoff.
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