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Musing on Collecting XII

January 3, 2014

We drove to Chicago for Christmas and since driving to Chicago means driving through Cleveland, I insisted we stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The whole museum of course is full of collected items but one of the most interesting parts was a special exhibit: “Collecting the Counterculture: Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Jr.”. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Santo Domingo (1958-2009) was a Colombian businessman who devoted himself to amassing one of the world’s largest private collections exploring man’s relationship with sex, drugs, the occult, social taboos, popular culture and rock and roll. Or as the Harvard website (which inherited his massive book collection) puts it “In very basic terms, his collecting centered on sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”

Santo Domingo kept his collection of over 200,000 books and other items (including the world’s largest collection of opium pipes) in an inconspicuous warehouse in Geneva, Switzerland. A placard at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit states that he was more interested in the quest than the object and that has gotten me thinking about the importance of the quest.

I realized quite early on, after my initial excitement at the availability of so much stuff, that it is not near as fun for me to be able to instantly buy things on the internet than to find them while poking through stores on vacation. There is another aspect to this much easier quest – an antique dealer told me that some things especially old watches have lost value since they became more available on the internet – people realized they weren’t quite as rare as previously thought. Of course, if something is hard to find even on the internet that makes the quest even more exciting!

I was so pleased when my younger daughter located and purchased a copy of my missing Nero Wolfe book because sometimes it is not about the quest – it is about completing the collection! Thanks, Molly.


From → Collecting, Music

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