About PI Vintage And The Spy And Private-Eye Museum
A Personal Note By Ralph Thomas

Hi I'm Ralph Thomas and I'd like to welcome you to PI Vintage and the Spy And Private-Eye Museum. If you have anything to do with investigation, you will likely have an interest in the rich history of private investigation and the spy world. I have been collecting a lot of this kind of stuff since I was 16 years old and still in high school.Of course, at that period of time, this stuff was, ah well new! I can remember a time when my junior high school buddy and pal David Mollison and I only dreamed of becoming investigators. We were very young then but we both made those dreams come true. After decades of logging thousands of hours of surveillance, conducting tens of thousands of investigative interviews, locating thousands of missing persons and doing almost every other kind of investigation under the sun, something happened to David and I that happens to us all. We woke up one day and discovered we were not young any more. It's funny how people's focus on life developes. First, it's usually about making a living. Then, it's about becoming recognized by one's peers. However, as one grows older and hopefully wiser, the thing you do for community seems more important than anything else.

To me, community is the private investigative profession and members of the law enforcement community. As a general American history buff, I have now witnessed enough in life to understand that some of the tools I have used in the past and some of the people I have had the opportunity to come to know, is now part of recent history itself. This section then is an attempt to preserve the history of investigation and spying and freeze in time, if you will, the tools and gear as well as some of the people the profession uses to obtain the successful investigative objective from the past. I can tell you though life experience that as one gets older, time seems to move faster and faster. Unless people like Ben Harroll of the PI Museum in California and A. Dvorsak's efforts in what used to be the USSR, a great deal of the tools and gear as well as the history of the past will end up in ash heaps and garbage dumps and lost forever. There are very few right now who have developed a goal to preserve what is there right now. I urge you not to throw anything away or hawk it for fifty cents at a garage sale if it's related to investigative, law enforcement and/or the spy profession. As I think back right now, I often wonder what happened to the Dektor 101 PSE machine I had, some of the past cameras I used in my career, some of the equipment even from several years ago.

I can remember as a kid, staying at my grandmother's house. She had old carved furniture setting on hand laid wood floors. At the time, this stuff was old and no one wanted it. It was considered a bunch of junk. Today, that same furniture would be worth tens of thousands of dollars as a lot of it was passed down to her from her mother. The same holds true of investigative gear so remember that. I can remember just a few years ago, I purchased my first digital camera. It was called the Mavica and was sold by Sony. I liked that camera because it used a floppy disk drive. Today it's old and vintage. This in and of itself is a lesson on how fast things change these days.

This section doesn't have much to do with selling you anything nor promoting something other than the fact that I have a believe that the history of private investigation and spying needs to be preserved. We are working very closely with Ben Harroll's PI Museum in California and this site is really a joint effort of many as we want to feature as many other like sites on the internet and give the professional investigator a place to learn about the history of investigation, spying and law enforcement with a focus on the equipment and gear of days gone by. We also want to inform those with interest of other brick and mortar museums you can go to in person to see a lot of this kind of stuff in the flesh for yourself. At the bottom of the front page for this section is a hugh collection of links that keep you informed of like museums you can go to in person. I'd like to give you a short run-down on a few of the places I like the best.

If you are in the San Diego area in California, be sure to make time to contact Ben Harroll to see his PI Museum. Ben has been collecting this stuff with a passion most of his life and he has been one of the major leaders in his community for the development of Gaslamp Quarters, a several block area with old buildings that was at one time earmarked to be torn down by the city. Because of the leadership of people like Ben, Gaslamp Quarters has been saved and the old buildings completely redone. Both his investigative agency and his PI Museum is now located in this area. Ben's PI Museum is likely one of the world's most extensive collections in the world relating to private investigation.

If you are ever near the Waco Texas area, you will find the Texas Ranger's Hall Of Fame one of the most interesting law enforcement museums in the world. I happen to stop in the place and every time I travel from Austin to Dallas or Forth Worth, I always plan several hours to see what they have that's new.

When it comes to shock and awe on investigative and spy stuff, by far the largest museum of it's kind is The International Spy Museum in Washington DC. The museum is located in a several story building in downtown Washington so plan on spending at least a half a day to see everything. They have a gift shop you will want to spend at least a half an hour in.

Finally, if you are planning to come to the Austin, Texas area, we now have a lot of this collection on display in two separate rooms off of the Spy Exchange And Security Center, one of the nation's largest showrooms for investigative and security gear as well as books and manuals. So be sure to plan on stopping in at our showroom in Austin, Texas to see spy and private-eye history unfold for you in person. If you have any questions, or comments, you can email me at RThomas007@aol.com.

My Best,

Ralph Thomas, CEO
Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc.
Spy Exchange And Security Center
National Association Of Investigative Specialists
Utrak, Inc.-Online GPS Tracking
SpyTek Wholesale And SpyTek Dealer Network
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