John's collection raises the bar

Published 4:00pm 16 April 2022

John's collection raises the bar
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

For a man who doesn’t drink anymore, John Dunne sure is obsessed with brewery memorabilia.

The Scarborough resident has transformed his man cave into a beer lovers paradise, with thousands of beer handles, tap tops and cans proudly displayed anywhere they can fit around his pool table.

John has spent more than four decades collecting, swapping and trading his prized possessions, with his obsession beginning whilst on a plane.

“I was flying home and I got four different cans, and it just started from there,” John says.

“My first can was a Courage one from Courage Brewery, and I had quite a lot of them.

“Courage put out 57 commemoratives and the ones with footy stars, which were a set of 12, were the holy grail for people to collect.

“There are a few in here that are quite good. Great Northern is pretty good - they came from a boutique brewery in Western Australia.

“I collected about 6000 cans, but then it became harder and harder to find some of them.”

John has cans from all over the world including England, Fiji, Cuba and Alaska, just to name a few.

There are also cans from world events such as the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

See the gallery below which highlights some of John's collection. 

Building his collection

When it became difficult to add to his can collection, John turned his attention to beer handles and tap tops.

“A mate of mine in Victoria, who has now passed away, said he would give me a tap top, and then I started collecting them,” John says.

“I have about 3000, but I haven’t counted them for a while. I do still have some in boxes.

“There’s plenty of different ones – Heineken; XXXX, Little Creatures, which are pretty popular, and I have a pretty good collection of James Squire which are well looked after.

“My wife limits me to this room – whatever I can fit in here I can have.”

Sharing his passion with others

John is a member of The Australian Beer Can Collectors Association, a group which was founded in 1979.

The purpose of the club is to foster and encourage beer can and breweriana collection, the study of beer cans, and to promote friendship with collectors across Australia and overseas.

Each state has its own division, and the members get together for monthly meetings to exchange beer cans, other brewery items and collect information from other members.

The group also hosts special events across the country each year, with one scheduled to happen in Redcliffe in May.

Known as the CANathon, a number of collectors from across the country will meet at the Redcliffe Showgrounds from May 13-16.

It will be a chance for the collectors to catch up and trade items.

John has already packed a suitcase with what he plans to show off at the event.

The group always welcomes more members. If you are interested in joining, visit the Australian Beer Can Collectors Association website.

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