FYEO Profile: Bondiana Collectors

“Beginn-or-oh-seven Collectors” mostly own a handful of gadget assembled by some Q’s purvey of some DVDs or other gifts. They never thought to collect Mr. Bond. These chaps, and more rarely (okay, much more rarely, chapettes) come home pie-eyed from visiting an experienced collector or checking on thousands of Bond items now on eBay. Once “bitten by the bug,” as Bruce Glover stated in Diamonds Are Forever, even newbies quickly graduate to full-fledged Fleming freaks and boffo (sometimes boorish, but bold) Bond buffs.

Bondologists (I coined the term first for myself, snobbishly) have collected Bond, and themselves as collectors together in small hunting packs like the BCW’s and other events, for decades. The legends of the craft collected Bond in the days when standees weren’t kept (or recycled or repurposed for sustainability), when displays were less important than the toys they housed, and before Bond had six iterations and over 20 films.

It’s been a pleasure to know many of the legends and gawk at their goodies in person or online or both. Graham Rye in the UK, with his Blofeld’s Coat-of-Arms ripped right from the Piz Gloria wall and a monstrous trove of rare photos, magazines and uber-props; Doug Redenius, whose collection is valued at over $2 Million U.S., with 90% of the items on proud display in his Illinois home, Alan Stephenson in California, who is able to present fabulous props and prototypes from each and every film and knows as much about Bond as anyone, mega-book and Flemingiana collectors like Dave Reinhardt, Brad Frank, Steve Kulakoksi and yours truly, clothing and Bond lifestyle masters like David Zaritsky, Charles Axworthy and Greg Bechtloff, video and audio archivists like Paul Scrabo and George Ann Muller, and many, many, devoted more… to Moore, Connery and more. Even up to sheer knowledge collectors, like Dan McCruden, who is enclyopedic on the casts and crew of the movies and the Dutch collector who knows every note of every soundtrack… “ba-ba-ba… let’s see, Moonraker, track is Journey to Space Station, 35 seconds in…”

You know you’re a fanatic when your extensive collection has occupied a bedroom, basement or attic. You know it when you wonder what you’ll do with all Her Majesty’s items when inevitably they become His Majesty’s Secret Service items.

At this level, we revel in the thrills of locating new items and obscure rarities, to boldly, and if there is enough dust on our shelves, mold-ly, go where no collector has gone yet hence. E-mails are exchanged with collector pals asking to identify finds (or begging them to not bid on auction items you know they already own). I personally have sent UJBFB-master Deb Lipp tractates on tarot cards, bothered Michael VanBlaricum to provenance Mr. Fleming’s letters, asked John Cox to make me a color facsimile of a dustjacket so rare it was on 8 books only, received a first press CD from Vic Flick, and many more.

All of the above ultra-collectors, including I, can thrill you (bore you?) for days on end with items in the collection, where from, who from and how much, plus endless stories about the book that was lost in the flood, the toy that went for $2 more to the higher bidder, the steal or bargain that drives the fun.

“Tell me, which lunatic asylum did they get you out of?”

“Don’t make it tougher on yourself…”

Beyond the Bondologist lies the “extreme” or “psychotic” collector, whom we love as the line between genius and insanity, snobbery and purgatory, as exemplified by the Blofelds, Carvers and Zorins that make Bond’s life worth living, even if the world isn’t quite enough. For example, the legendary book collector who collects Signet paperbacks-one example of every printing of every Signet paperback. Imagine having 48 versions of You Only Live Twice that look identical on your shelf until you turn to the bottom of the inside title page to see “45th printing” or “23rd printing”! Imagine this man’s consternation over missing printing 13 of From Russia With Love or the 27th printing of For Your Eyes Only. Collectively, all 48 YOLT books are worth a grand total of $24 but what the hey-let’s get together and put the show on the road for Christmas with Irma Bunt.

I’ll e-mail you photos of the Dutch legend’s collection with 22 drawers labeled from Dr. No through Quantum of Solace-22 pull drawers in movie order merely to hold pounds of scrap clippings until they can be filed, labeled and stored, all with exacto knives and paste, without aid of any computer help. Or just look inside my own PC, with hundreds of albums of Bond music stored digitally, and a folder of every Bond film with photos inside-stored in movie frame sequence order-and sub-directories for each film with behind the scenes shots-and directories by film for posters as .jpgs, and-and…

But Bond is so extensive, you ought to specialize somehow, also. I know a lovely fellow whose many pristine books all bear Connery or Connery’s likeness on their cover only; a poster collector who “only has” posters-several thousand different posters and lobby displays, etc., etc.

And what separates the “boys with toys” from the men, from the boys, is the depth of their pockets, or depravity, when it comes to buying the best, trading the best, and hoarding the best. And the best of the best. And the best of the worst for fun, too. Have you seen the book with model George Lazenby on the cover in black tuxedo, four years before OHMSS was filmed? Have you read x’s notes.

More specifically, I’ve sold and traded entire sets of books to gather up scratch to buy one rare one. I’ve spent years building an assembly of dozens of Bond books specially bound with never a dustjacket used-all leather and specialty cloth bindings. I proudly own a number of one-in-the-world props and ephemera, and so on.

Newbie? Bondologist? Lunatic? Let’s get the conversation blogging here at BondFanEvents and share war stories (and trade collectibles).

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