A Visit with Stan WIllis
I recently had the opportunity to visit and interview Stan Willis in his Cincinnati home. Stan is very well known to the handcuff collecting community. His HANDCUFFS and BADGES web site exhibits many rare cuffs and Stan has made an effort over the years to provide his fellow collectors with a number of hard to find cuffs through his sales program. Recently Stan was recognized by the Guinness World Record organization for having the world's largest handcuff collection. Visiting Stan was a very enjoyable experience. His collection is truly awesome. The pictures shown here barely do it justice.
Joseph Lauher - October 2003
How did you get started in collecting handcuffs and restraints? In the late 1960's a friend that I was working with asked me to go to a large Ohio flea market with him. I saw an old brass padlock marked "US Steamboat department" and thought that it would be a neat display piece for $ 3.50. That got me hooked on collecting padlocks at flea markets for 2 years. One day I found a nice pair of handcuffs and thought they were interesting too. Within a year I had sold all my padlocks and was a handcuff collector. I still have the padlock and the first cuffs I bought.
Stan at his computer
We all know that you also collect badges, what other collecting interests do you have? Besides the handcuffs, I collect police and fire department badges, pictures, and almost anything old police department related. I also collect fire lanterns, fire helmets and other fire department related items.
You have some of your best items pictured on your web site. Are there any particular items (not necessarilly rare ones) that are your particular favorites? I tend to like the hard to find items. Mckenzie Mitts and Oregon boots are really interesting. The Griffin bar handcuff is also one of my favorites. My all time favorite is a mint Bean Giant. One side is inscribed "Stolen from Joe Moses Cin. Ohio" On the back is "John T. Norris Springfield Ohio" . A also have a gold badge presented to Joe Moses, and have a history of both men.
Oregon Boots and McKenzie Mitts
The Guinness World Record Designation is quite an achievement. Could you > tell us how it came about? How big is your collection today (October 2003)? Although the certificate from Guinness says 843, there are actually 900 items in the collection today. All are police or prison related. I applied to them at the encouragement of friends. It is not an easy process. It took 6 months before they would accept all the information. I'm not sure what the value is, except for bragging rights.
Guinness World Record Recognition
I am very impressed about the way you have your collection inventoried. Can you tell us a little about your system? I put a paper tag with a number on each item. This is tied to a computer spreadsheet showing the item number, country of origin, maker, markings, price I paid, and current value. There is a separate page for handcuffs, legirons, nippers, twisters, and misc.
Do you have any advice for a beginner in the crazy hobby of ours? Read the available literature. Spend lots of time absorbing the information on the internet. Handcuffs.org is a great place to start, and has been the best thing on the web for bringing collectors together. Make sure all your friends know that you collect. They might see something and tell you about it. Start with cheaper cuffs til you learn what you are doing, and what cuffs are worth. My philosophy has always been to buy it when I see it if the price seems fair, even if not mint. When a better one came along, I would buy it and sell the previous one.
Wall 3 - The Small Padlock at the
top represents the start of Stan's Collection
Do you have anything else to add for the visitors to Handcuffs.Org ? It's a great place to visit.
Thanks Stan. It has been a great visit. Joe
February 2008 Update. Stan has just been issued an updated Guinness World Record certificate. His collection now is certified to have 1350 pairs of handcuffs.
Please address all comments and suggestion in regard to this web site to Joseph W. Lauher at: