IAre you a collector?
Well, I have that chronic condition and although at my age I’m considering getting rid of a few things, I’m still bringing more into the house.
As a kid, I collected the usual stuff – comic books, baseball cards, rocks and fossils, and stamps. Only the comics books, rocks and fossils survived as interests.
Once in junior high school, though, I was bit very hard and deep by the movie bug and once I realized there were things I could collect, I started.
Movie fans collect still photos, posters of various sizes and shapes, scripts, books about movies, and movies themselves. I never was able to buy 16mm prints of films, but I did buy a number of the 8mm versions of films. I still have them all.
Home video changed my life.
When I realized I could buy such things, I started the dominant collecting habit of my life.
I looked for movie items at used bookstores, flea markets, tag sales, ephemera shows and at auction houses.
The thrill of collecting is never really knowing what you would find and where you would find it.
I was at the Hadley Flea Market on Route 47 one Sunday morning and discovered a table with all sorts of vintage movie items. Most of them were newsletters from MGM to exhibitors discussing upcoming releases. Because they were from MGM, they were pricey.
There among them was a real treasure – at least to me. It was a full-color over-sized booklet from Monogram Pictures in 1934. It detailed what films the company was planning to make that year, and the booklet was to get theater owners excited about the upcoming product.
I snatched it up for $25. For all I know it may be the only copy extant.
There is something about the “hunt.” I realize finding a collectible is not the same as stalking wild game, but finding an item you don’t expect to find is indeed exciting.
I once found two framed comic strips by George Herriman, the legendary cartoonist best known for “Krazy Kat.” These were Herriman originals of his strip “The Dingbat Family” and the dealer thought they were “Mutt and Jeff” strips. The price was $150 for the pair, and a friend and I split the cost. I sold mine for $500.
Now I wish I had kept it, but the offer was too good.
That feeling of discovery is heightened at an auction. I’ve had some good luck at auctions as well. You may notice how we have a fine story about Golden Gavel in East Windsor, CT and if you have never gone to an auction before, it’s well worth trying.
Frankly even if you don’t bid, auctions can be very exciting. Watching the action as a group of people try to outbid each other is fun. It’s like reality TV, only live!
For almost 20 years I attended a film festival in Syracuse, NY where on the last day of the event there would be an auction. People attending the festival would bring in a dizzying variety of movie items – some desirable and some inexplicable. Famed movie historian and critic Leonard Maltin served as the auctioneer and Leonard would have fun either pumping up the action with his descriptions of the items or comment on who would want such a thing.
If you have never gone to an auction and you’re a collector, do yourself a favor and try one out.
- G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor