According to NPR, a dentist from Alberta, Canada, recently paid $10,000 for a dental crown that once belonged to Elvis Presley. His collection, which has pride of place in his waiting room, also includes a rotten tooth that was extracted from John Lennon. The curious can view a photo of the Preseley’s dental model and spare crown, which he kept for “insurance” in case he cracked or broke the one in his mouth.
Michael Zuk, the dentist in question, is just one of many collectors across the globe. There are any number of strange collections on view on the internet – unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find one that didn’t include Graham Barker’s navel fluff collection, so proceed at your own risk. Before you scoff, however, remember that many museums began as private collections: the Victorians, in particular, were obsessive collectors of all manner of things.
Collecting things seems to be a common thread for most human beings. It starts in childhood: most kids have a collection of one thing or another, ranging from rocks to bugs (spare a moment to pity the poor mother of the intrepid budding entomologist) at some point during their youth. You may have a collection of your own. Many of us, in a trend that spans centuries, bring home spoons or shot glasses or other souvenirs of our travels. I myself have a cabinet full of emblazoned coffee mugs from such exotic locales as Zoo Atlanta. Well, they have pandas.
Collections are not without risk. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, in the charming 1953 comedy The Long Long Trailer, nearly have their honeymoon derailed by Lucy’s rock collection. Rocks on the open road are an unlikely danger, but unfortunately, collections can be lost in other, more mundane ways, such as fire or theft. If you have a collection that you value, talk over insurance coverage options with your independent insurance agent and make sure it’s covered on your homeowners or renters policy. After all, today’s stamp album can turn out to be tomorrow’s retirement fund.