Hat lover keeps baseball caps by the box load

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OFF-THE-WALL COLLECTION: Since the mid-1960s, Roy Duncan, (pictured with his wife, Jean) of Greensboro, N.C., has put together a collection of hundreds of caps.

Al Stewart

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Roy Duncan, of Greensboro, N.C., has traveled extensively in the United States since the mid-1960s. In his travels from California to Hawaii to Alaska, he has accumulated quite a souvenir collection - more than 750 caps.

Several of these caps are signed by well-known Americans. He has autographs of former Sen. Jesse Helms; NASCAR drivers Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte; and country music stars George Jones, the Statler Brothers and Alabama.

Duncan, a farmer, has a 36-acre farm with 17 beef goats - and several Allis-Chalmers tractors. That may explain why his favorite cap is one promoting Allis-Chalmers tractors.

Some people might wonder where to keep such a sizeable cap collection. Duncan keeps them in a closet, housed in eight sturdy, homemade cardboard boxes. Each contains 96 caps. Subjects covered by the caps include sports, schools, gasoline and - not surprisingly - farming.

Although the majority of the caps in the collection have been acquired as gifts or donations, a few have been purchased. One such cap promotes the World's Fair that was held in Knoxville, Tenn., during the summer of 1982. Duncan bought that cap on the fairgrounds.

Many of Duncan's friends and relatives give him caps on special occasions. His wife, Jean, remembers him annually at Christmas, as well as on his birthday, with caps not found in his collection.

Duncan has displayed part of his collection at schools, churches and square dances. He welcomes any opportunity to show off his hobby. Three years ago, a local television station featured his collection as part of a news broadcast.

Duncan is uncertain what his collection is worth. But its value will only go up, because he intends to increase the number of caps in it in the years ahead.