Document Sample
 Universal Coin & Bullion, Ltd.                                                               February / March 2008 Supplement


   and Their Private Collections
     We live in a time where there is a widespread                     you share a common interest. It probably comes as no
 fascination with fame and celebrity. To some, this                    surprise to anyone to know that Dick Clark, the “world’s
 enchantment with the personal lives of famous people                  oldest teenager,” has a vast collection of music
 borders on the obsessive. In the tabloid media, we are daily          memorabilia, a large portion of which serves as
 treated to a litany of personal celebrity details that, more          decorations for his American Bandstand Grille restaurant
 often than not, are scandalous in nature. Other times, when           chain. Clark’s restaurants aren’t the only chain to use
 celebrities are doing promotional tours for their latest              entertainment memorabilia collections as a lure to entice
 project, we usually get the canned publicity presentations            customers. Worldwide chains like Hard Rock Café and
 intended to sell the product. Every once in a while, we catch         Planet Hollywood are some of the biggest collectors of all,
 a personal glimpse of a celebrity that allows us to see them          as they constantly search for items to adorn their theme
 simply as regular people, with human interests to which               restaurants. These kinds of businesses, which serve as
 anyone of us can relate.                                              specialized museums, give the larger public opportunities
                                                                       to see a wide range of collectible items they might
     One of the ways we can share common ground with the               otherwise never get to experience.
 celebrities we enjoy is through the hobby of collecting.
 Nowadays, virtually anything is of collectible interest to                Still, despite the public nature of these shared
 someone. Of course there are the obvious items likes sports           collections, collecting is still largely a very private and
 or entertainment memorabilia, antique books, cars, art or             personal pursuit, which speaks volumes about individuals,
 coins. But, these are merely the tip of the proverbial                oftentimes in very unexpected ways. For example, did you
 iceberg. In the past decade or so,                                                         know that award-winning actor
 collecting in general has exploded.                                                        Nicholas Cage has been an avid
 Today, collecting Beanie Babies or Hot                                                     collector of comic books since he was a
 Wheels cars is considered as serious a                                                     kid? He even took his stage name from
 pursuit as collecting Picasso or Tiffany.                                                  Hero For Hire comic book character,
 All of these and more have found their                                                     Luke Cage. A short while ago, Cage
 way into the private collections of                                                        parted with some of his favorite comic
 many of today’s top celebrities.                                                           book collectibles at auction selling 141
                                                                                            lots for a total of $1.68 million. In
                                                                                            addition to his vast comic book
    Taking Their Collections Public                                                         collection, Cage is also an avid
        Collections Public                                                                  collector of European sports cars.

     It is endlessly intriguing to                                                                    Speaking     of    cars    (and
 discover what types of things different                                                         motorcycles), Tonight Show host Jay
 people collect. It is even more                                                                 Leno has one of the most extensive
 fascinating to find out what celebrities     Academy Award winning actor, Nicolas Cage          private car collections going and is
                                              has been a long-time collector of rare and
 collect, especially if you find out that                                                        widely known as an authority on the
                                              vintage comic books and European sports cars.
                                                                          Hulk TV star Lou Ferrigno shares a
                                                                          collecting interest with Patty Duke?
                                                                          Would you believe Beanie Babies?
                                                                          Strange, but true. Even stranger,
                                                                          swashbuckling movie star Johnny
                                                                          Depp collects rare insects and
                                                                          “Dollywood” entrepreneur Dolly
                                                                          Parton collects rare butterflies.
                                                                          Insects and butterflies? Some                Singer-Actress, Dolly Parton
 Collectors consider the E-Type Jaguar XKE a work of art as it combined                                                collects rare butterflies.
                                                                          people will collect anything.
 elegance and vintage racing technologies in a sophisticated design.

                                                                              Several years ago, when Angelina Jolie was having
subject of cars. His collection includes, among many                      public relations issues in the wake of her divorce from Billy
others, a Lamborghini Miura, a Jaguar XKE, a Shelby                       Bob Thornton, it became public knowledge that she had an
Mustang GT 350, Bugattis and Dusenbergs. In a Robb                        extensive collection of antique knives. The initial media
Report article Leno stated, “Car collecting is something I                spin fed the growing perception that Jolie was weird
enjoy doing.” With over 100 cars and counting in his                      beyond belief. After all, she was the same woman who wore
collection, which is housed in a converted airplane hangar,               a vial of Billy Bob’s blood around her neck. The collection
it seems Jay may be understating his passion just a touch.                of antique knives fueled the fires of her weirdness.

              and Some Collection Surprises
            and Some CollectionSurprises

     Some celebrities themselves have even become quite
 collectible with entire industries growing up around the
 perpetuation of their legend. For example, is there any
 celebrity more popular and collectible today than Elvis
 Presley? More than thirty years after his death, his estate still
 generates more dollars year after year than when he was alive
 from a vast array of items bearing his likeness. And how about
 Marilyn Monroe? One would be hard-pressed to identify a
 more iconic image than Marilyn and the world is still
                                      enamored with her more
                                      than forty years after her
                                      untimely passing. Jimi
                                      Hendrix, John Lennon,
                                      Bob Marley, James Dean,               Academy Award winner, Angelina Jolie
                                      former President John F.              has been collecting antique knives since
                                      Kennedy and even Albert               she was a teenager.
                                      Einstein; all of these and
                                      more, whose lives and               However, after Angelina began an earnest public relations
                                      images      continue     to         campaign to repair her damaged reputation, she revealed to
                                      fascinate collectors all            Barbara Walters on ABC’s 20/20 that her fascination with
                                      over the world many years           knives began as a young girl after attending a Renaissance
                                      after their lives ended. It         fair. Seems her interest in knives was symbolic of her deeper
                                      continues to surprise us            interest in the history of older cultures. In the Walters
The Elvis Presley estate continues to how deep and wide is the            interview, she stressed that her collection was kept under
earn millions each year from          passion for collecting.
collectible items bearing his image.
                                                                          lock and key so that her young son could not get to them. So,
                                                                          maybe she’s not so crazy after all. But, we wonder if Brad
                                  It is not a big stretch of              knows where she keeps the key.
the imagination to know that rock guitar god Eric Clapton
is a big collector of, well, guitars. Or, that famed movie
critic Leonard Maltin has an extensive collection of movie
memorabilia. But would you have guessed that Incredible
     CELEBRITIES WHO COLLECT                                               Going all the way back to the first half of the 20th

                              C              INS                      century, famed American composer Jerome Kern built one
                                                                      of the finest private coin collections of that time. Kern, who
    In this day and age of reality TV shows, if Dancing               penned hundreds of hit songs including such standards as
With the Stars can be a big hit, why not Coin Collecting              “Ol’ Man River” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” among
With the Stars? We wonder if we can get a meeting with a              others, also had a keen eye for “hit” coins. Among the many
TV executive to pitch the idea. Perhaps not. But, it is a fact        treasures in his collection were an ultra-high-relief 1907
that many famous people have gone public with their                   Saint Gaudens Double Eagle and a gem proof 1842 small-
fascination and love for collecting coins. The list includes          date Liberty Seated quarter. Five years after his death,
actors, actresses, singers, athletes and many other                   famous Texas coin dealer B. Max Mehl sold Kern’s
celebrities who at one time or another were household                 collection at a glittering auction in 1950.
names across America and even around the world.
                                                                            The list of celebrity coin collectors is long and varied.
     Take Buddy Ebsen, for example. Best remembered                    Many became so enamored of the hobby’s excitement,
today as Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies, Ebsen              they persevered to become confirmed numismatists. From
had a long and successful career on stage and                                    the entertainment world alone, the list includes
screen. He famously lost the role of the Tin                                         many famous figures past and present,
Man in The Wizard of Oz because of an                                                     including the legendary Italian tenor Enrico
illness he developed caused by a reaction to                                                Caruso, “Stardust” songwriter Hoagy
aluminum dust in his makeup. Still,                                                          Carmichael, academy award-winning
Buddy Ebsen went on to great success as                                                      actress Nicole Kidman, emmy-winning
one of America’s best loved actors, and                                                      actor John Larroquette, actress-director
subsequently became an avid and                                                              Penny Marshall and famed talk-show
especially knowledgeable coin collector.                                                     host Bruce Williams.
Ebsen was fond of United States gold
coins in particular and accumulated a                                                                Williams hosts a widely syndicated
complete gold type set, a set of the                                                         radio talk show covering financial
Panama-Pacific commemorative coins in                                                        lifestyle issues. His radio program is so
                                              Famed actor, Buddy Ebsen avidly collected
their original copper frame and a gem         coins including the historic Panama-Pacific
                                                                                             popular, he is second only to Rush
proof 1879 coiled hair Stella, among          Exposition gold commemoratives, like the       Limbaugh in terms of audience. In 2002,
other notable coins. In 1987, Ebsen sold      one pictured above.                            Talkers magazine selected him as the #6
his collection at a major public auction                                                     Greatest Radio and Talk Show Host of
and then, perhaps to show he wasn’t abandoning the hobby,              All-Time. In his private life, he is an eclectic collector of all
he co-founded the Beverly Hills Coin Club with a younger               sorts of things, including rare coins and Disney
actor, Chris Aable.                                                    memorabilia. Bruce has commented that he collects what he
                                                                                              likes without regard to cost. For
     Sports fans from all around the world                                                    example, he has a little bird for which he
remember the venerable personality of                                                         paid a total of eight cents and individual
sportscaster Chris Schenkel. For several                                                      coins he has purchased for over $30,000.
decades, Schenkel covered a wide range                                                        He prizes each of them equally and
of sporting events, from Olympic Games                                                        claims he is not likely to part with any of
to professional bowling, during a                                                             the things he has collected.
distinguished career that literally took
him around the world as the voice of                                                                 From the world of sports, famous
ABC-TV’s Wide World of Sports. Off                                                            coin collectors include ice hockey legend
camera, Schenkel spent much of his                                                            Wayne Gretzky, baseball slugger Andre
private time pursuing a personal passion -                                                    Dawson and fierce basketball rebounder
collecting coins. Over the course of his                                                      Dennis Rodman. Once known as the
life, he assembled an impressive                                                              “hobby of kings,” coin collecting has had
collection, including an exceptional set of                                                   its share of enthusiasts among the ranks of
early U.S. quarters. In fact, his                                                             world leaders. In times past, France’s “Sun
collection was so vast that it included                                                       King,” Louis XIV, found such pleasure in
enough desirable coinage to help fill a                                                       the French Royal Coin Collection that he
                                             Ice hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky is one
436-page catalog of 3,404 lots when it                                                        visited it daily and confided that he could
                                             of many sports stars and celebrities who
went on the auction block in 1990.           collect coins.                                   “always find something new to learn.”
                Italy’s King Victor Emmanuel III was more                                 Some Celebrities Will Collect
                than just a collector; he was a true
                numismatic scholar who considered coins
                                                                                           Anything...and Everything!
                the great passion of his life. Upon his
                abdication in 1946, he donated his                                           Just about anything is collectible these days. All that
                collection – more than 100,000 coins from                                is required is for someone to have an interest in
                ancient times to modern – to the people of                               accumulating certain items and someone else who has
                Italy. He also left a magnificent gift to future                         those same items. Everything from stamps and fine art to
                generations of collectors: a 20-volume                                   beer cans and Coca-Cola memorabilia is suitable for
                catalog of Italian coinage through the                                   collecting. There is no telling what someone may find of
                centuries, which took him 12 years to write.                             interest. Some times the items are intrinsically valuable,
                Egypt’s King Farouk was more of a                                        some times they are merely sentimental to the collector.
                voracious accumulator than a serious                                     No matter, to collectors the items they collect are valuable
                collector, but some of his coin acquisitions                             period. In her book, What Celebrities Collect, author
                were spectacular – including a 1933 Saint-                               Michelle Karl chronicles the collecting habits of famous
                Gaudens double eagle which currently                                     celebrities. Here is a sampling of some of their collections.
                ranks as the highest-priced coin ever sold. It
brought $7.59 million at a New York City auction in 2002.                                            Dan Aykroyd                               Police Badges
Other world leaders known for their coin collecting interest                                      George Clooney                               Motorcycles
have included U.S. presidents John Quincy Adams and                                             Harry Connick Jr.                              Cuff Links
Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was also widely known as a                                                 Billy Crystal                            Sports Memorabilia
stamp collector; Israeli military leader and foreign minister                                    Jamie Lee Curtis                              Photographs
Moshe Dayan; and former British prime minister Tony Blair.
                                                                                                         Jim Davis                             Garfield Memorabilia & Wine
                                                                                                     Johnny Depp                               Insects and Rare Books
     While it may have formerly been known as the “hobby
                                                                                                             Elvira                            Gothic Items
of kings,” today it has become the “king of hobbies”.
Whereas in earlier times it was pursued primarily by                                              Malcolm Forbes                               Toy Soldiers / Faberge Eggs
noblemen with ample resources, in present days, coin                                            Whoopi Goldberg                                Bakelite Jewelry
collecting enjoys a wide following of enthusiastic collectors                                    Steve Guttenberg                              Saltwater Fish
at all levels of society. In fact, due to a groundswell of new                                     Scott Hamilton                              Pinball Machines
collectors in the past ten years, the U.S. Mint recently                                             Robin Leach                               Marine Paperweights
estimated the number of coin collectors in America alone                                        Barbara Mandrell                               Autographed Books
to now be upwards of 140 million. Still, notwithstanding                                              Demi Moore                               Dolls & Vintage Clothing
the more democratic incarnation of contemporary coin                                              Rosie O’Donnell                              McDonald’s Toys
collecting, it is reassuring and more than a little fascinating                                 Quentin Tarantino                              Board Games
to see that this endlessly engrossing hobby still holds great                                         Alan Thicke                              Hockey Memorabilia
appeal for the rich and famous.                                                                     John Travolta                              Aviation Memorabilia

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