Saturday, July 24, 2010

Allen Mackler on Collecting

These series of posts relate to one of our current Sherlock Holmes exhibits, "Through The Eyes of an Enthusiast -- The Allen Mackler Collection," on display through August 29 in the T. R. Anderson Gallery in Wilson Library at the University of Minnesota. The text comes from the accompanying exhibit booklet. Photographs are from the booklet and also of the exhibit.


Allen, an avid member of many societies associated with Holmes, appeared in a Baker Street Journal (BSJ) report on the activities of The Red Circle of Washington D.C., which revealed yet another indication of his interests and depth of knowledge. This time it involved a quiz on "Canonical Courtship and Marriage." Allen was the winner. (Francine Morris and Wayne Swift, soon to be married, tied for second place.)

A later article from 1981 entitled "Collecting the Uncollectible" gives us a glimpse into the world of the collector, from Allen's perspective. In this case the items to be collected were phonograph records.

The impecunious always at the mercy of the factor of price, no matter what his field of interest. But in almost every field, not even a ready supply of cash will necessarily flush out a desired item, especially if it happens to be one never intended to serve as a collectible and is therefore not generally available to the public at large. Take for example the area of record collecting, in which I indulge myself in a small way. Here the affluent Sherlockian can with relative ease accumulate just about everything ever released commercially, and even perhaps lay his hands on what are referred to in the trade as "bootleg" items. But it requires considerable perseverance and no small amount of good fortune, rather than a prodigious bank account, to add to one's holdings certain legitimate recordings of more than marginal interest not likely to appear on the market under any circumstances, let alone for the delectation of avid collectors.

For Allen, it was his good fortune "to acquire for my own collection a full run of the series of Sherlock Holmes radio broadcasts featuring Carleton Hobbs as Holmes and Norman Shelley as Watson."

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