A short history of collecting, Part VI: Art, Books & Play Memorabilia

Last update: 8 December 2018

Collecting is in itself an entertaining activity, which is represented in the various sections of The Tricottet Collection. This gallery focuses on "entertainment objets", such as books, artworks and play memorabilia from famous collections. Play memorabilia include musical instruments, toys, and sport memorabilia. Artworks were already collected in Ancient Rome but chains-of-custody have long been lost for most of the paintings and sculptures that survive in our modern museums (Bonnaffé, 1867). With the development of consumerism, starting with the Industrial Revolution and accelerating to this day, the number of collecting themes has exploded, which was already emphasized by Paul Eudel in 1885. Twentieth century specializations include, for instance, Teddy Bears, magic apparatus, football and baseball memorabilia, movie props and posters, video games, action figures, etc.


Click/tap on the thumbnail to display the full-size image. Click/tap the full-size image to display the image caption.

1. The White Mountain Collection: The Flagship of Silver Age Pedigree Collections, early collecting of video games & the Pac-Man collectible craze

Play memorabilia dated [1982-1988]; letter dated 1992
United States of America

Pac-Man merchandise formerly from the White Mountain collection composed of games and everyday objects representative of the early 1980s "Pac-Man Fever", all new in boxes, with date of purchase penned or stamped.

[1] Letter from Jerry Weist to Kennett Neily (typed 2-pp. letter, dated 10 Jan. 1992, signed, J. Weist letterhead, dated at the back by K. Neily "Read Wed 1/15/92") about the making of the White Mountain pedigree by Sotheby's;
[2] Suite of 5 video games from Vectrex, Atari and Nintendo (complete in boxes, one new in box, all with White Mountain 1980s dates of purchase);
[3] Suite of Pac-Man merchandise (new in boxes, with White Mountain 1980s dates of purchase).
Provenance: K. Neily estate
References: Mignan (2018:Fig. 8c; Fig. 7b; Fig. 3b)

The White Mountain Pedigree collection consists of Silver Age comics, underground comics and other rarities. It was one of the first “Silver Age” pedigree collections. The story started in 1984 when Kennett Neily walked into the comic book store The Million Year Picnic (Cambridge, Massachusetts) in order to sell some comics. Upon inspection, Jerry Weist (1949-2011), who pioneered the comic book collecting genre, found the comics to be of superior quality, with extraordinarily white pages and colors. Weist convinced Sotheby's in 1991 to mount the first major Comic Book and Comic Art auction. The collection became a nationally recognized pedigree, as epitomized by a letter sent by Weist to Neily in 1992 [1]. "Silver Age" collecting culminated at the 1993 Sotheby's auction, where the Amazing Fantasy #15 brought $40,000, and the Fantastic Four #1 $28,000. Kennett Neily is known for carefully recording the date on the first page of each comic, making other items from his collection identifiable. The White Mountain collection was not limited to comics. One other section may represent the earliest example of a systematic collection of video games [2]. Another one documents the early 1980s Pac-Man collecting craze [3]. Like the White Mountain comics, all those objects are dated (stamped or handwritten), sometimes with place of purchase, and kept in remarkable condition.

Ronald Borst collection of horror, fantasy, science-fiction film art, rare movie memorabilia, lobby cards stamped at back, Christopher Lee, The Curse of the Were-Wolf

2. P. Haning's archive on the history of Arctophily, or the hobby of collecting teddy bears & the legacy of Colonel Bob Henderson

Letter dated [1979]; Documents annotated in 1990s
United States of America

1979 letter from J. Ownby of Good Bears of the World (GBW) regarding the book "In Praise of Teddy Bears", mentioning "Col Bob Henderson". Accompanied by a GBW Teddy Bear with original tags and card.

[1] (a) Waring, P. and P. Waring (1980), In Praise of Teddy Bears, Pictorial Presentations, Souvenir Press, 128 pp. (inscribed, with numerous annotations); (b) photocopies of a 1985 letter from T.R. Henderson reviewing the 1st ed. and of his obituary; (c) Letter from J.T. Ownby to P. Haining (dated 29 Nov. 1979);
[2] (a) Drafts of the 2nd edition (Collectors' Edition, Revised & Updated) (stappled photocopies, few annotations); (b) Letters from Souvenir Press Ltd about the making of the 2nd ed. (dated May-Jun. 1997); (c) List of teddy bear clubs with addresses (some handwritten notes, some printouts).
Provenance: P. Haining (i.e. P. Waring) estate

Teddy bears were invented in 1902 by the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company following the publication of a cartoon depicting President Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot a bear cub. In Germany, near Stuttgart, Margarete Steiff produced soft toy animals, and under American demand, started to make teddy bears. A worldwide Teddy Bear Craze followed in 1906 with the toys becoming collectors' items. By 1980, early surviving teddy bears had become museum pieces and the largest private collections were composed of hundreds of bears. In Great Britain, the largest collection was the one of Colonel Bob Henderson with 462 items (Waring & Waring, 1980) [1,1b]. Henderson, with radio pioneer J.T. Ownby and actor P. Bull, co-funded Good Bears of the World (GBW) in 1969 [1c]. In the 1980s-90s, the teddy bear became a high-end collectible and investment, first with Princess Georgievna's 1908 “Alfonzo” red Steiff bear bought in 1989 for £12,000 by Ian Pout, a retired stockbroker (Teddy Bears of Whitney). It culminated with Colonel Bob Henderson's 1904 cinnamon Steiff "Teddy Girl", bought in 1994 for £110,000 by a Japanese business man (Christie’s, 1994; Waring, 1997) [2] (the 2nd ed. of Waring's book was welcome as the most valuable teddy bear in the 1980 ed. was priced at $450, a movie prop from 1936!).

3. The F.J. Ackerman Collection of science-fiction, the greatest science fiction collection in the world, from its making to its dispersion

Letter dated [1944]; movie still published in [1981]
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA

Original photographs of Forrest Ackerman with his science-fiction collection displayed at the Ackermansion (here during the 1980s?), originating from his estate via Profiles in History auction.

[1] Ephemera from the Ackermansion: (a) photographs of F. Ackerman and his collection; (b) newspaper article about the Ackerman collection (Glendale News-Press, 1980);
[2] Movie stills: (a) Ackerman, F.J (1981), Mr. Monster's Movie Gold. The Donning Company, 205 pp. (association copy: inscribed to E. Lanchester who played the Bride of Frankenstein, inscribed a 2nd time 20 years later); (b) Movie still of "The Time Travellers" showing F. Ackerman;
References: (b) Ackerman (1981:195)
[3] Versins, P. (1972), Encyclopédie de l'Utopie, des Voyages Extraordinaires, et de la Science Fiction. L'Age d'Homme S.A., Lausanne, 997 pp. (association copy);
[4] Guernsey's (1987), Science-fiction, Fantasy, Horror, The World of Forrest J Ackerman at Auction... (soft metal-like cover, inscribed in red ink: "Warmest Wishes, Forry Ackerman"). Provenance: F. Ackerman (/ Profiles in History auction, lot 0715 TBC (1 May 2009) for photos and newspaper)

Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008) became hooked to science-fiction after buying an issue of "Amazing Stories" in 1926. He created the first sci-fi fanzine, was the literary agent of many sci-fi writers (including Ray Bradbury & Isaac Asimov), the editor of the highly influencial "Famous Monsters of Filmland", the recipient of the first Hugo award, and coined the term "sci-fi" in the 1950s. At its apogee in the 1980s, his collection included some 250,000 posters, movie stills [2], books [1,3], movie props and toys, making his collection the world largest repository of sci-fi, fantasy and horror (Glendale News-Press, 1980) [1b]. Many objects were obtained directly from his actor friends. For several decades, the collection was displayed at his 17-room "Ackermansion" [1c] but by 1980, Ackerman wanted his collection to be housed in a museum. Although the city of Los Angeles originally showed some interest in the collection (at the time appraised at $10 million; Glendale News-Press, 1980), no museum was ever created and his collection got sold piece-meal, during his late years (e.g., Guernsey's, 1987 [4]) and following his death (Profiles in History, 2009).

4. The Edwin A. Dearn collection of magic books & apparatus and his connections to other collectors of magic and supernatural memorabilia

Books dated [1924], [1930]
From China to Australia

"The Supernatural" by Weatherly & Maskelyne (1891) from the E.A. Dearn collection of magic memorabilia. Most of the books in his library contain detailed notes by Dearn himself about the author, recipient or edition specificities.

[1] Books on magic: (a) Mulholland, J. (1945), The Art of Illusion, Magic for men to do. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 142 pp. (association copy, inscribed: "With my highest regards to my friend Edwin A. Dearn and most cordial good wishes, John Mulholland", with E.A. Dearn bookplate and his notes); (b) 2 more coming soon;
[2] Books on the supernatural: (a) Weatherly, L. A. and J. N. Maskelyne (1891), The Supernatural?. Arrowsmith's Three-and-sixpenny Series, London, 273 pp. (presentation copy inscribed "To Lionel Brough from the author, L. Weatherly", also signed "E. A. Dearn 1924" with E.A. Dearn bookplate and his notes); (b) Price, H. (1930), Rudi Schneider: A Scientific Examination of His Mediumship. Methuen & Co. Ltd, London (inscribed: "To my good friend, Edwin A. Dearn, who supplies me with quaint Eastern items, with kind regards, Harry Price, Dec 8th 1930", with E.A. Dearn bookplate).
Provenance: E.A. Dearn

Edwin A. Dearn (1892-1980), amateur magician and member of The Magic Circle in London was an avid collector of magic memorabilia. He became interested in magic in 1913 and then moved to Shanghai, China, performing there for about 25 years (incl. ventriloquism) and entertaining many world-famous magicians in his home. He was in constant communication with fellow collectors around the world (incl. Houdini) and his collection contained both books (2,000 items) [1-2] and apparatus (wanted). In the early 1950s, he fled China to escape communist rule, moving to Sydney, Australia, where he remained until his death (source: Magicpedia). Dearn's library included obviously books on magic sent by his magician friends (e.g. John Mulholland, 1898-1970) but also some on the occult, in particular sent by psychic researcher and friend Harry Price (1881-1948). Both were also famous collectors. Price's collection of books and artefacts on occult phenomena ended up in the University of London Library whereas Mulholland's collection was purchased by magician David Copperfield in 1991 for $2.2 million.

Perlen aus der Instrumenten-Sammlung von Paul de Wit in Leipzig, Presentation copy in deluxe binding, inscribed to Maurice Emmanuel, collector of antiquated musical instruments

6. Paul Eudel's "Collections et collectionneurs", a unique insight into some French collecting trends of the late 19th century

Letters dated (1885)
Paris, France

Paul Eudel's 1885 anthology on French collections and collectors of the 19th century, including an extremely rare edition of his book and the original correspondence with many renowned collectors of the late 19th century.

[1] (a) Eudel, P. (1885), Collections et collectionneurs. G. Charpentier et Cie., Paris, 300 pp. (one of the only 2 "private" copies on pink paper, no. 2, inscribed by Eudel); (b) 'Correspondance, Collections et collectionneurs, avant et après' (bound volume with over 80 letters and a manuscript on shell collecting, most handwritten, some with envelopes).
[2] Eudel, P. (1883), Le baron Charles Davillier. Paris, Motteroz, 64 pp. (modern binding, no. 22, one of 20 copies on Holland paper from tot. ed. of 120 copies, inscribed to A. Sickel, with Eudel's bound written note regarding the rarity of the book).

Paul Eudel (1837-1911), one of the great French collectors, bibliophiles and art critics of the 19th century, wrote prolifically on the subject of collecting [1-2]. His book 'Collections et collectionneurs' [1] contains eight articles on collecting and collectors that had previously appeared in periodicals, together with Eudel's preface written for the book-form edition. Included are articles on stamp collecting, shells, antique toys and puppets, together with profiles of collectors such as Baron Charles Davillier [2], fencing master and historian Arsene Vigeant, and Aimé Desmottes. The Tricottet Collection holds the bound volume 'Correspondance, Collections et collectionneurs, avant et après' with over eighty letters and a manuscript used for the preparation of the book [1]: Among the letters are seven from Arthur Maury (1844-1907), one of the pioneers of philately and author of the first stamp-collecting catalogues; three from Arsene Vigeant; four from Ad. Giraldon regarding the toy collection of Mme Agar; two from pottery collector Gustave Gouellain, to whom Eudel dedicated 'Collections et Collectionneurs'; and eleven from the printing firm of P. Charaire et fils, who printed the work for publisher G. Charpentier. Also included is a 21-page manuscript document in French on shell collecting and collectors covering much of the material in Eudel's chapter on the subject, written by his brother Emile Eudel.