Breaking the Collecting Focus Rule
It is a long held belief that a collector should find a focus of the collection and then obtain items within that focus. That is absolutely true. So the question is what does Joseph ‘Joe’ Patrick Kennedy Sr. and Francis Charles Jenkins have to do with my early Canadiana focus? Nothing though in spite of the good advice previously shared I chose to purchase an item related to each of these American gentlemen. Why? As a collector, I felt the “stories” that accompanied each of these items very special, interesting to me and thus I wished to own them.
I think any collector when confronted with the opportunity to do so, should break the focus rule. This is one of the aspects of collecting that is so interesting and enjoyable. When one sees and item that is exciting and of real interest does it really matter that it is not a subject of the chosen ‘focus’? Absolutely not, on the contrary it is about the pleasure and enjoyment derived from owning such a treasure.
Collecting is a very personal hobby which brings enjoyment as a result of the collecting journey. The emotional value of the collection is the real value. It is inevitable a collector will become exposed to a few special item(s) that fall outside their collecting focus resulting in the the desire to possess the item. Do it! I have never felt any guilt or disappointment from breaking the ‘focus’ rule.
Allow me to share a little of each of these items and their story which I found so interesting.
FRANCIS C. JENKINS
The offer; would I be interested in purchasing two actual radio transmitted photos circa 1923 along with a Jenkins 1925 book, “Vision By Radio” written, signed and inscribed by Jenkins? Who was Francis Charles Jenkins? What were “radiovision” photographs?
It was astounding to me that black and white images were being transmitted wirelessly from one location to another in 1923! I remember watching black and white TV images in the late 1950’s (Canada’s first TV broadcasts started in 1952) however to now learn and see the images that were being transmitted in the 1920’s is something I found truly remarkable. Here I was being offered the opportunity to own these incredible examples of communication history.
I quickly began to read and research Jenkins, these two photos plus the inscribed book and the more I learned the more I wished to add these items to my collection of treasures. Regardless of the cost which was in fact one of the more expensive purchases I had made, I bought the set.
I placed the two photos in a two-sided clear plastic holder beside the book so I could quickly and easily enjoy seeing the photos next to the book. Most collectors do not promote their collected items but rather choose to enjoy their treasures keeping them totally to themselves. However, if asked about an item a collector will quite proudly tell a little or a lot about the items relaying their “story” much as I did with the Jenkins photos and books. I do not do justice to telling the full and complete story but mine is not the role of the historian but the collector.
Those who asked were probably as much amused and impressed with my pride, joy and enthusiasm when telling the story. It is interesting to note a new book published by University of Illinois Press in 2014 by Donald G. Godfrey about C.F. Jenkins has recently been published called “C. Francis Jenkins, Pioneer of Film and Television” The intro includes “This is the first biography of the important but long-forgotten American inventor Charles Francis Jenkins (1867-1934)… Jenkins was an inventor who made a difference. As one of America’s greatest independent inventors, Jenkins’s passion was to meet the needs of his day and the future.” Donald Godfrey tells the whole story and well worth a read and tribute to Jenkins!
My personal emotional pleasure of owning (collecting) has been rewarded many fold in the Francis C. Jenkins two c1923 transmitted photos and 1925 book, once again proving that stepping out of focus once in a while is not a bad thing at all.
November 22,1963, the day we all remember. The day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The day Joseph ‘Joe’ Kennedy lost another one of his children.
The write-up for the Directors Minutes Books was interesting and seemed to be a unique document but aside from being the Father of the assassinated President of the United States, I knew very little about Joseph Kennedy.
In researching Joe Kennedy I discovered the basis of his wealth came from his time as a director of Pathe’s Exchange, Inc. (PEI) which was sold to (or merged with) RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum). Cari Beauchamp’s book about Joe Kennedy offered a great deal more insight. As Cari Beauchamp’s book review says it best… “Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years, is the extraordinary missing chapter from Joe Kennedy’s biography: his remarkable reign as a movie mogul when he ran three studios and a theater circuit simultaneously, was pivotal in the transition from silent films to sound, masterminded the mergers that created the blueprint for contemporary Hollywood and made the fortune that became the foundation of his empire.” This Pathe document in fact turns out was one of the many documents she read in researching her Kennedy book. I later talked to Cari about this document and she well remembered it as she had to borrow it from the person who owned it at the time and from whom I bought it.
Many collectors enjoy researching after they purchase a book or document. This was not generally so in my own case except that I had decided that one day I would become a book dealer and realized additional research on an item would provide greater enjoyment and later benefits. Upon receiving the book, I read every page and in doing so realized a whole new aspect of Joe Kennedy. I made pencil notes on a separate sheet of paper everywhere Joe Kennedy was mentioned. I went back and read just those sections and became excited about what I was learning about Joe Kennedy. I was able to see how Joe Kennedy used his position, power and corporate politics to significantly build his capital into a fortune and remarkably so during the period of the Great Depression.
From the PEI first meeting in New York, April 9, 1929, when Joe Kennedy’s shares of 4,285 were noted and he was elected Chairman of the Pathe Exchange Board up to the Meeting on April 21, 1931 where he stated the RKO corporate transaction was completed and he resigned from the Board, every item of business has been documented. It is truly a privilege to read and see a corporate chess game being played by the master, Joe Kennedy. What a tremendous business case history and great insight into this man! Upon completing the research with Joe Kennedy as the focus on this document I was even more delighted with my decision to add this treasure to my collection.
Once again while certainly outside my collecting focus, well worth breaking the collecting focus rule for me.
Alas, as every collector knows, items are only being held during their collecting time span. Now as a dealer these items and many others are now available for sale for other collectors to enjoy.
These items can be view and purchased online at my LDRB web site;
© text and some images Lord Durham Rare Books, all rights reserved.