How I became a Lotologist

You might want to sit down if you are going to read this.

It all began a long, long time ago......(insert wiggly lines and harp strumming here for flash back effect)

...My father is a wildlife lecturer and his job involves taking around animals, mounted and live, to schools and teaching children about them. In the school holiday periods he often has displays in shopping centres/malls to promote the complex and bring in holidaying, bored kids. It was during one of these displays that my Scratch ticket collection was kicked off. It was about 1989, I was around 11 years old, and my dad had a display in ‘The Glen’ shopping centre, Victoria, Australia. This was in the days when there were only about 20 shops and a supermarket there, now there’s hundreds of shops and a few department stores.

My dad used to get me to help him set up his display and some times get me to hold lizards and show people and answer questions. I can’t say I really liked this too much but I seemed to get roped into it.

It was nearing the end of the 10am – 4pm display stint and I was getting pretty bored. It was Friday, we’d been there all week and I’d already visited the 20 shops many times.

My Nana turned up unexpectedly and she had brought along my 2 cousins. That was very exciting as we used to get up to so much mischief together. The eldest one is 9 days younger than me and the second one is 2 years or so younger. They were like brothers to me as I am an only child in my family.

Well wouldn’t you know it. Nana got caught up talking and the 3 of us started to get bored! Out of no where one of us came up with the idea (probably me) ‘lets check all the scratched tickets and see if there are any winners on them!’.

The lottery shop was right next to the display so we didn’t have to run off or anything. It really was the logical thing to do in the situation.

As we started we decided to split any winnings 3 ways between us. I think that was my idea too, as I was worried that they would find a big winner and I’d get nothing.

Well we started and found nothing. The eldest cousin started going through the top of the bin and pulled out a few more. Great idea! To speed up the checking process I sat there and checked them and the cousin kept looking for them. We got a couple of different tickets turning up. ‘Lets see how many different ones we can get!’ I kept checking and before I knew it the eldest cousin was almost head first in the rubbish bin and pulling out heaps of tickets. I was a bit embarrassed but certainly wasn’t complaining. We’d gone through a lot of tickets and hadn’t found a winner but found 4 or 5 different tickets. All of a sudden as I checked the ticket $2.00, $2.00 & $2.00. No it couldn’t be! My heart started pounding, ‘check it again’ I thought. $2.00, $2.00 & $2.00, we’ve found a winner! I can’t believe it. We’ve found a winner! "Look guys, We’ve found a winner". 

Huddled around we stared at the ticket. It doesn’t get much more exciting than this! We rushed off to show Nana and Dad. They were talking with someone so we had to wait. It was so exciting. Felt like forever until we could show them. Finally showing them they were very surprised. ‘We have to cash it in’ I was a bit worried about cashing it in as I didn’t know if they would give us the money because they would know we didn’t buy the ticket.

The ticket series that we won the $2 on (Does anyone know the date of issue fro this ticket?)

We built up the courage and, hearts pounding, cashed in the ticket. There it was. $2. What a win! We had just won a huge 66.6 cents each!!! I can’t quite remember how we paid out the .6 cents each but we were all sort of happy with our pay out.

The most disappointing thing, from today’s point of view, is the next part of the story. We threw away all of the tickets we collected that day except for 2 of each different type. Even more disappointing was when I was home I decided only to keep one of each! I could have had hundreds of these now rare tickets!

I hadn’t yet decided to collect them. I thought it was only a one-off thing.

That night we had a heap of church youth come over for band practice. At the end when everyone was talking my dad got me to get out my tickets and show everyone and tell them how I found a $2 winner in the bins. They were all fascinated.

The ticket my Cousins gave me which kept me collecting

I don’t know exactly how long it was but a week or so after all this my cousins gave me a $2 ticket they found that was different to the ones we were found that day. ‘Cool’ I thought. I added it to my small collection of 6 or so.
We went interstate soon after and I found a whole different set of tickets there. I thought that was pretty cool and again, unfortunately, I kept only one of each of the tickets I found.
I found a $2 ticket later those holidays, which had a whole game that had not been scratched on it. $100,000 was the major prize! Imagine that! $100 000 and I could win it. This was my first ticket that I’d picked up that had not been scratched properly. My dad got excited too, and we took it and showed mum. Unfortunately the ticket ended up not winning anything.

The ticket series that I first found with a whole game not scratched on it

I think it was from there on that the hobby of collecting tickets was born. It must have been the combination of the excitement of the winning, unscratched tickets and the variety of tickets.

Over the next 8 or so years I quietly collected tickets. I knew of no one else that collected tickets and everyone that found out about my collection thought I was crazy. I was beginning to believe it myself too. It seemed hopeless. I got into the web site creation business after I finished high school and a multimedia course. I made up a small scratch ticket web site and got myself some free web space, plonked it on and registered it with some search engines. It took about a month or so and then I received an e-mail regarding my site. It was Jeff Hungerford (Illinois)! I tell you it was just like finding life on Mars! There was someone out there that too collected tickets. We traded and after that it was he who revealed the word world of Lotology and all off the collectors out there.

I couldn’t believe it. They even had conventions in the US on Lotology. And the fact that some people had nearly entire sets of MINT tickets! Also that some hat 100’s of thousands of tickets! I had thought my then 4000 or so tickets was a big collection! Since then my hobby was revived and I did a lot of trading.

Unfortunately due to me running my own business, getting married and having a large Disneyland web site to maintain I have really had no time to race forward with my collection and trade. I still keep picking up tickets when I see them and them but just don’t presently have the time to give the hobby all it deserves.

My biggest comfort is that I am so young and that when I retire I will have so many tickets to play with, including pre 1990’s tickets. All which will be a valuable collecting asset in the years surrounding 2050’s when I’m around 70.

Today I have found well over $100 of unclaimed tickets in bins (still looking for the big one), have over 10,000 tickets and still have never bought a ticket!