Page 20                                             Spring 1988   

Kitting Around by Kit Summers


With A Little Effort Fabulous Collections Begin


So you want to expand your juggling contacts and at the same time pursue a new and worthwhile hobby? Then become a juggling collector! It's a good way to contribute to juggling in general, and also to enhance your own knowledge and enjoyment of the art.


There are many items associated with juggling that you can collect: autographs, books and magazines, business cards, buttons, greeting cards, news clippings, photos, props and videos are the most common ones.


Let's take a look at how some devoted collectors did it:


Barry and Sue Bakalor of San Jose , Calif. , began their collection in a traditional way with books, articles, greeting cards and pictures. But Barry recognized that videotapes were the best way to historically preserve a record of an individual's act.


So he added another dimension to his collection by making tapes of jugglers (with their permission, of course) at conventions, in the streets and by recor­ding their appearances on television shows.


An early interest in magic prompted Ken Benge to begin a collection of magic paraphernalia. In time this turned into a juggling collection. If you're going to be a collector, it helps to make friends. Benge's collection multiplied with help from fellow collectors Roger Montandon and Lane Blumenthal.


Devoted collectors are also willing to spend money to enlarge their collections. Blumenthal, the official photographer for the IJA in its beginning days, passed his entire collection on to Danny Rees. Benge ended up buying the Rees collection. He also acquired a great deal of material from Roger Dollarhide, another official IJA photographer. Benge's collection, a collaboration of his own material and things acquired from other people, fills many trunks.


Karl-Heinz Ziethen of West Berlin has probably the largest collection on jugglers and juggling. Ziethen began by purchasing the collection of Max Koch, an old circus collector, then traded material with circus collectors from around the world. His personal friendship with many jugglers and demonstrated devotion to the art through publication of "4,000 Years of Juggling" and "Juggling, the Art and Its Artists," has also helped his collection grow.


Paul Bachman's collection started many moons after he started juggling. About 20 years ago Bachman began collecting 16-millimeter movies of jugglers, most of

whom are now deceased. However, Bachman's favorite items are props owned by various jugglers - a Rudy Cardenas juggling stick, a Salerno club, some of Trixie's plates, and Bobby May's drum.


Mary Wilkins started buying juggling books about 13 years ago. She subscribes to various clown, unicycle and magic magazines that sometimes give her clues to new sources for juggling items. Then came the photo books, and finally videos of jugglers. She now owns over 100 videos, many of which she obtained through negotiation with other video collectors. As a former librarian, she says she knows how to "find" things and is always on the lookout.


Wilkins has a list of books and videos that are available to other collectors. For a small charge, she'll send you a copy. Write her at Chino, CA.


Alan Howard also started his collection by buying books on juggling and receiving gifts from people he befriended. His most prized possessions are old Bobby May props and a knife and fork from Salerno. Howard scours old book stores in towns he visits to find juggling photos and books.


Homer Stack, who died recently at the age of 96, amassed one of the largest collections I ever saw in the United States . Stack lived in the vaudeville era and had photos of many vaudeville jugglers, including W.C. Fields in his early juggling days, and many films from that era.


Stack's housekeeper has reported that the entire collection was stolen after Stack's death. This is an unfortunate loss to juggling history and raises the question of permanent, secure storage for juggling collections. Part of the collection of Roger Montandon, an IJA founder, was damaged in a flood at his home - another example of the vulnerability of private collections.


At this point, there is no juggling museum or archives for permanent display of memorabilia. However, the IJA is storing material that people have given to it with plans to eventually open a juggling museum. Wilkins says her will designates that the IJA will receive her collection after her death. Howard said he is also inclined to leave his collection to the IJA if the organization founds a museum during his lifetime.


Truly valuable collections are distinguished by their careful organization and display . You'll have to devise a system to keep your material organized, and your photos should be mounted in a nice photo album rather than pasted into a scrap book. After all, these photos aren't scrap, are they?


I hope these juggling/collector tidbits in­terest you in starting your own collection. I suggest beginning with some good photos of yourself that you can trade with other jugglers. It's also easy to save articles, cartoons and other items about jugglers and juggling.


Voila! Your collection is starting! Getting more serious about it requires writing letters to jugglers throughout the world. I have found that, if you can find them, there are people everywhere who like to trade juggling photos. As you get more serious about collecting you will learn of other collectors who will be willing to trade with you. And so on, and so on, your collection will grow and improve.


Who knows where it could all lead? Many of the best photos from my collection are included in my book, "Juggling with Finesse". Perhaps someday you can write a book based on your collection as well.


But first you have to get started. Don't be a procrastinator, start your collection now. Before you know it, your collection can grow beyond your wildest dreams!

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