On Saturday, The Florida Museum of Natural History held its 41st annual Collectors Day. The event, which featured over 100 collections of everything from salt shakers to potato mashers, grants visitors the chance to listen to collectors talk about the history of their valuables. The event is meant to bring attention to the importance of collections in research.
Having collected many items over the years, many collectors can’t remember when they obtained their first piece. But 60-year-old Gainesville resident Chuck Field remembers when he got his first View-Master.
“When I was in middle school, a friend showed me his father's antique stereoscope, but we were not allowed to touch it,” Field said. “When I grew up, I was at an antique show. I got to pick one up and actually look at the pictures and see them in 3D. My now-ex-wife suggested I purchase the stereoscope, and from that point on I just went crazy and collected different formats from antique stereoscopes to View-Masters.”
The event showcased collectors with a variety of experience. For 68-year-old Gainesville resident Miriam Welly Elliot, it was her 36th year exhibiting her Beatles memorabilia collection at the event.
The 8-foot table allotted to her by the museum was piled high with countless magazines, figurines, posters and pins, but her favorite piece from her collection is the one she wears around her neck. An accordion necklace in the form of a leather-bound journal, the golden lettering has worn off from frequent use as a teenager. But when opened, it reveals an array of well-preserved photos of the Beatles members.
“Between classes, I could take a look at my boys.” Elliot said.
For Elliott, collecting Beatles memorabilia has allowed her to connect with others who have similar interests. She keeps a journal of the interesting stories she’s heard throughout her years of collecting.
“People come and tell me wonderful stories,” Elliott said. “I've actually had people at the table cry and say ‘I had one of these when I was a kid. I went off to college and my mom threw my Beatles stuff away or sold it in a yard sale.’ The first time I heard that story, I called my mom and said thank you for never throwing away my Beatles stuff.”
Many collectors find a sense of identity in their collection. Their collections are more than just items — they are personal treasures.
“I always say I am who I am because of the Beatles.” Elliot said. “There are other influences in my life — obviously my parents, Martin Luther King, Jr. and stuff — but the Beatles kind of put me on a path. And I don't think I'd be that same person without them.”