For whatever reason, my wife and I have several collections of “things” which we find interesting.

Puffin Stuff  (John)  First collection is in the Seward, Alaska, Public Library and the second collection is with the Audubon Puffin Project in Maine.

Musk Ox Art (Barbara)  First collection is at the Musk Ox farm in Palmer, Alaska. You will find most of it in a display case in the back left corner with our names mentioned.

Baskets (Mostly Barbara)  We still have most of this collection, though one Aleut basket is at the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka, Alaska.

Once we started collecting art, some how we focused on two things: puffins and musk ox.  One woman in Anchorage did a new puffin print nearly every year and John couldn’t resist her work.  Our collection became rather large.  The Internal Revenue Service was changing the rules. We panicked a bit and donated our collections to the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer, Alaska, and the Seward Library in Seward, Alaska.  The rule change was that you could deduct what you paid for a piece of art, not what its value was.  That rule did not last very long, but we had given the collections away.

I had purchased two pieces of art for $.10 each and when they were evaluated at $1500 and $1750 each.  I was anxious to give them away at value, not purchase price.

The amusing thing, from my point of view, is that church members knew of my love of puffins and it wasn’t long before I had a complete collection of puffins again.  Barbara’s second collection is much more modest.

The basket collection is also very modest with one exception.  When we were visiting Navaho country a couple of years ago, I saw Barbara’s eyes light up over one Navaho Basket (with a beautiful butterfly design) and she couldn’t handle the sticker price.  I looked at her and said:  “50th wedding anniversary present to both of us?” and she immediately agreed.

As proof that we are downsizing, our doll collection now lives in Juneau, Alaska, and Barbara’s postcard collection now lives in Sitka, Alaska. My second puffin collection is in Maine. Barbara wants to keep her second musk-ox collection many more years. She has one bronze piece that allowed me to get away with not buying her any presents for five years. Christmas or birthday, I just pointed at the musk-ox. Alas, the five years are now up. She got a rock carving in Zimbabwe. Only good for one year. So much for down-sizing.


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