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Archive for Friday, April 6, 2001

New A&E series profiles collectors of the bizarre

April 6, 2001

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The producers of A&E's new weekly series "The Incurable Collector" had no problem finding people who collect interesting, unique and bizarre items. There's the woman who collects swizzle sticks. "She has a thousand swizzle sticks," said the series' executive producer, Pam Burke. "It is one of the more inexpensive (hobbies) to get involved in."

Burke just "loves" the man who collects vacuum cleaners. "He has 800 vacuum cleaners that date back to the first vacuum," she said.

Then there's the guy who has nearly 700 eggbeaters "everything from an eggbeater that automatically flips eggs over to an eggbeater that is water-powered so he runs a hose through it to scramble his eggs."

Burke herself is a collector. Fifteen years ago, she began collecting dolls from the 1950s and then went in reverse, obtaining dolls from the '40s and '30s until now she's purchasing dolls from the beginning of the 20th century.

Even Barry Schulman, vice president of programming and programming strategy for A&E, is a collector he has about 70 or 80 exotic masks on the wall in his family room. "I think there must be a 12-step program for us," Schulman said. "It's almost subconsciously that we collect stuff."

Each episode features three experts: "Garage Sale Susan" Goldberg, "The Instant Appraiser" Niles Grace and Usha Subramanian, who focuses on "fantastic finds."

Host and narrator is Emmy Award-winning actor John Larroquette, who is an incurable collector of first editions by 20th-century writers.

Larroquette has approximately 3,000 books.

"Everything is well-protected and on display," he said. "I love reading them. My wife gets irritated sometimes when I fall asleep in bed with a signed William Faulkner on my chest."

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