Thursday, August 21, 2008

Please Don't Destroy the Coffee Can Toy Museum

In 2006 Mister Jalopy paid one dollar at a garage sale for a Skippy Peanut Butter jar filled with tiny objects that had belonged to a boy many years ago. He wrote:
No individual item is handmade or fine. The jar is filled with a bunch of dimestore crap but, as any curator will tell you, the sum of the parts is more important than the individual you-know-what.
A woman at Collectors' Quest writes about a similar find: a coffee can filled with plastic and metal trinkets. Like Mister Jalopy, she photographed each object and posted the photos to her blog. However, instead of recognizing the value of the story that the sum of the parts tells the observer, she is offering the individual items for sale. Yes, she bought the stuff fair and square and can do what she wants with it, but it's unfortunate that she doesn't recognize that the value of this collection far exceeds the value of each individual piece.

I posted the following comment on her blog:
In my opinion, you should keep all the items together. As individual items, they are cute trinkets, but as a group, they constitute a personal museum of one child's life.

Deanna Dahlsad, the woman who bought the coffee can of toys, replied to my comment.
Dear Mark,

I understand how you feel — and believe me, this is why it hasn’t been tossed as some have recommended — but at the same time, as a collector, I know folks are always searching for a part or piece to make their own collection or personal history museum complete…

I’m not saying that we should sacrifice The One for the sake of Many, but given the combination of items (the coffee can was one of several containers in the box lot) this can appears to be from an adult who repaired toys (or was a Depression Era survivor who saved everything) — and in *that* context, sharing pieces so that another toy or game becomes complete seems the most genuine way to honor both the items and the former owner.

Anyway, as no one has pleaded for any parts, it likely shall remain as is… Until my kids inherit it all. Unless you’d like to become the custodian/curator?
I apologize for jumping to conclusions, Deanna. Please forgive me!