Last update: 30 July 2017

The Collectionnite Gallery displays various historical objects, mostly artificilia, from early Wunderkammers to contemporary collections, as well as documents on collecting habits, psychology of collecting, and material culture. We use the term collectionnite, which in French refers to collectomania (with the suffixe "-ite" specifically referring to the concept of disease). In The Tricottet Collection, its use is made less pathological with collectionnite becoming an object that sounds just like a marcassite, an ammonite or a meteorite. For our work on the curating aspects of metacollecting and on the concept of collection-object, see Mignan (2016).

Drag the cursor over the thumbnail to display the full-size image. Drag the cursor over the full-size image to display the descriptive text.

1. Collecting process in Art
21st century

An entomological collection of Entoforms from the mind of artist Dolf Veenvliet. The specimens are pinned and labelled on non-acidic paper in entomological boxes.

See also: Anthropocene Art | Mineral natures mortes

An unnatural history collection

A natural history collection often represents an accumulation of animals, plants and minerals preserved in various fashions (visit the other Halls of The Tricottet Collection). Here is a somewhat unnatural collection of imaginary animals recolted from the mind of comtemporary artists (from the 20th and 21st centuries). The acts of collecting, classifying and displaying are here also part of the artistic process. Various artistic media are represented.

Figures: Entoforms (D. Veenvliet, 2011) | Ectoplasms (H. Mizushima, 2013-2014)

2. The White Mountain Collection (of comics)
United States of America
Second half of the 20th century

Pac-Man merchandise formerly from the White Mountain collection: Games and everyday objects representative of the early 1980s "Pac-Man Fever".

The making of a Pedigree of rare comics & other White Mountain collectibles

The White Mountain Pedigree comic book collection consists of Silver Age comics, underground comics and other rarities. It was one of the first “Silver Age” pedigree collections. The story leading to the making of this pedigree 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), pioneering comics collector, found the comics to be of superior quality, with extraordinarily white pages and colors. This was due to Neily's collecting habit to store everything in large metal military boxes in a dry, cool environment. Over the years, Weist and his colleagues purchased parts of the collection. It was then decided to make the collection public. Weist convinced Sotheby's to mount the first major Comic Book and Comic Art auction in 1991 (and served as Sotheby’s comics consultant from 1990-2001). Following strong sales, it became apparent that the collection was fast becoming a nationally recognized pedigreed collection, 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. More White Mountain comics emerged over the years, e.g., a run of X-men being offered for sale in a 2009 Heritage auction. Kennett Neily is known for carefully recording the date on the first page of each comic. This is how other items from his collection are recognizable. The White Mountain collection was not limited to comics but being too broad to be correctly represented here, The Tricottet Collection displays a selection of 1980s items, from Pac-Man [2] to Burger King merchandise [3], via factory sealed VHS tapes [4], showing the diversity of his collection. Of particular interest is his collection of video games, possibly the earliest documented collection on this theme! [5] (video games collecting really taking off in the 2000s). Like comics, all are dated (stamped or handwritten), sometimes with place of purchase, and kept in remarkable condition.

Figures (K. Neily): [1] Letter about pedigree & Sotheby's sale (J. Weist to K. Neily, 1992) | [2] Pac-Man merchandise | [3] Burger King merchandise | [4] Factory sealed VHS tapes

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

3. The F.J. Ackerman Collection of science-fiction
California, USA
20th century

Original photographs of Forrest Ackerman with his sci-fi collection at the Ackermansion (during the 1980s?), from his estate via Profiles in History auction.

The greatest science fiction collection in the world, from its making to its dispersion

Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008) was the sci-fi collector par excellence [1], who became hooked 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), was the editor of the highly influencial "Famous Monsters of Filmland", was the recipient of the first Hugo award, and coined the term "sci-fi" in the 1950s. When his collection was at its apogee in the 1980s, his collection included some 250,000 posters, books, movie props and toys, making his collection the world largest repository of sci-fi, fantasy and horror (Glendale News-Press, 1980) [2]. For several decades, it was displayed at his 17-room mansion, the so-called Ackermansion [3], located in the Hollywood Hills. Ackerman wrote a number of books about the history of science fiction, often based on objects from his collection (e.g., Ackerman, 1976; 1981; 1985; 1997) [4]. His collection included 100,000 movie stills [4a], 16,000 lobby cards, thousands upon thousands of books [1,5], and a rare extensive collection of movie props. Many props were obtained directly from his actor friends. He also made numerous cameo appearances in movies [4a]. By 1980, Ackerman wanted his collection to be housed in a museum. Although Los Angeles originally showed some interest in the collection (at the time appraised at $10 million [2]), no museum was ever created and his collection unfortunately got sold piece-meal, during his late years (e.g., Guernsey's, 1987) [6] and following his death (Profiles in History, 2009).

Wanted: Movie prop or TV prop with documentation from the F.J Ackerman collection

Figures: [1] Early sci-fi correspondence (K. Krueger to F. Ackerman, 1944) | [2] Glendale News-Press, 1980 (F.J Ackerman) | [3] Ackermansion photographs (F. Ackerman) | [4] Books by Ackerman (incl. association copy: Bride of Frankenstein & "The Time Travellers" movie still) | [5] Versins, 1972 (association copy: F. Ackerman) | [6] Collection sale (Guernsey's, 1987)

old collection of buttons

4. Collecting Teddy Bears
20th century

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

Arctophily, or the hobby of collecting teddy bears: The legacy of Colonel Bob Henderson
Principally based on the "In Praise of Teddy Bears" archive from the P. Haining estate

Teddy bears were born in 1902 when a cartoon appeared in the "Washington Evening Star" depicting American President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt refusing to shoot a bear cub that his hosts had tied to a tree so the president would not be left without a kill on a hunting excursion. Morris Michtom, a Brooklyn shopkeeper, rapidly got the idea to produce toy bears that he called Teddy’s Bears (then establishing the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company, which became a corporation in 1907). On the other side of the Atlantic, in Giengen, near Stuttgart, Margarete Steiff produced soft toy animals, and under American demand, started to make teddy bears. While Michtom invented the teddy bear, it was Steiff who popularised it and started the worldwide Teddy Bear Craze in 1906 with the toys becoming collectors' items (while a Michigan priest denounced it as destroying the instincts of motherhood). Teddy bears became famous characters in books and cartoons, such as Rupert, Winnie the Pooh, or Paddington. By 1980, early surviving teddy bears from M. Michtom and M. Steiff 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) [1-2]. Henderson, with radio pioneer J.T. Ownby and actor P. Bull, co-funded Good Bears of the World (GBW) in 1969 [3], the most famous teddy bear club and charity that gives teddy bears to sick and lonely children. GBW also issued "Bear Tracks", a newsletter about teddy bear collecting. 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) [1] (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!).

Figures: [1] Book archive (P. Haining) | [2] Letter photocopy (T.R. Henderson to R. Macfarlane, 1985 / P. Haining) | [3] Letter & Teddy Bear (GBW / P. Haining)

Maiden Castle sling-stones, authentic copies, Cornelius Holtorf, Mortimer Wheeler, Pitt Rivers, Chesil Beach, 1930s, Allhallows College

5. The W. Niven Collection of Mexican antiquities
Early 20th century

Obsidian carved mask, from the Precolumbian Nahua civilization, found by W. Niven or one of his workers in San Miguel Amantla (with 1923 invoice photocopy to G. Dixon).

The real Indiana Jones? in search of lost civilizations & buried cities in Mexico

William Niven (1850-1937) was a collector of minerals and antiquities, and adventurer in Mexico in the late 19th/early 20th century. Originally a mineral dealer in the US (and a friend of famous G.F. Kunz), Niven explored Mexico and decided to settle there where he made a business of red garnet (c. 1893) and some very lucky gold finds. He also became interested in some relics (terracotta faces and figurines) and built the largest private collection of Mexican antiquities, described as "magnificent" by Hyde and Mena (1922) [1]. He discovered buried cities, enigmatic tablets, survived diseases and political instabilities. In Niven's biography, "Buried Cities, Forgotten Gods", we read about "one great City of the Dead..." and the discovery of the "Cave of Skulls" (Wicks and Harrison, 1999:37, 62), not far off any Indiana Jones movie. He had a store in Mexico City, selling some of his findings to fund his digging work, the Mexican government having approved permission for excavations and the sale of duplicates. One of his major discoveries was made in the region of Atzcapotzalco. In 1909, Niven received visits from Indians offering terracotta heads and other figurines. He learned that they came from San Miguel Amantla where artifacts were found in pits [2-3]. Niven searched there for 15 years by renting successively a dozen of small farms to dig trenches. Unique artifacts went to the National Museum, Mexico City (e.g., Hyde and Mena, 1922; Mena, 1927). The site was unique, like a "Mexican Pompeii" (different periods being found in different volcanic ash layers), and even described as the "lost Atlantis" by a Papal representative visiting the site in 1919. Niven developed a geo-archaeological stratigraphy of the Valley of Mexico, used as basis by Hyde and Mena (1922). They defined the following civilizations: Toachtopayatlaca (4,000 B.C.), Mongoloide (2,000 B.C.), Tlachichique (1,500 B.C.), Chichimeca (A.D. 800) and Nahua (A.D. 1200). Niven's discoveries became famous via the work of J. Churchward (his "Lost Continent of Mu").

Wanted: Original photograph of Niven's collection or of Niven's specimens for sale

Figures: [1] Hyde and Mena, 1923 (G. Dixon) | [2] Various figurines (G. Dixon) | [3] Terracotta figurines (A.M. Stackler)

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. P. Eudel's "Collections et collectionneurs"
Late 19th century

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.

A rare insight into some French collecting trends of the late 19th century

Paul Eudel (1837-1911), one of the great French connoisseurs, bibliophiles and art critics of the nineteenth century, wrote prolifically on the subject of collecting, publishing both books and articles in newspapers such as Le Figaro and Le Temps. His book "Collections et collectionneurs" contains eight articles on collecting and collectors that had previously appeared in those 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, fencing master and historian Arsene Vigeant, and Aimé Desmottes. The Tricottet Collection holds one of the only two existing copies of the "rose" edition, as well as a bound volume "Correspondance, Collections et collectionneurs, avant et après" with over eighty letters and a manuscript used for the preparation of the book: 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.

To be continued with excerpts from collectors' letters.

Figures: Book & correspondence (P. Eudel, c. 1885)

7. Wunderkammer catalogues
16th-17th centuries

1681 Grew's "Musaeum Regalis Societatis" collection catalogue including an Egyptian mummy, a human fetus, the leg bone of a dodo bird, lodestones, etc.

... The 1681 Royal Society collection catalogue (Grew's "Musaeum Regalis Societatis") is a typical 'Wunderkammer' collection with a strong emphasis on natural history and scientific curiosities but a modest selection of coins and antiquities and a few of art. Grew's arrangement follows that of Ole Worm [From Wunderkammer to Museum 64]. But unlike previous catalogues of Renaissance noblemen's cabinets of curiosities, Grew's descriptions do not emphasise exotic and monstrous specimens. The entries are straightforward and matter-of-fact. Grew gives detailed measurements and descriptions of the shape and texture of artefacts, and also takes care to point out any errors in previous descriptions of the same kind of object (source: Royal Soc. website).

To be continued.

Figures: Musaeum Regalis Societatis by Grew, 1681 (G. Cleghorn)