Dr. Ken Kallin: Signature Collector
Photos by Chloe Powell
Dr. Ken Kallin has amassed what is widely acknowledged to be the world’s largest Autographed Book collection – one that is in the process of begetting the official Guinness World Record. With over 16,109 autographed books already qualified, according to the strict Guinness criteria/guidelines, and 300+ others awaiting determination (plus 5,305 duplicates for a total of 21,625), there is no question that what he has amassed dwarfs anything, of such type, ever known to exist before. According to experts it is a collection that probably will never be duplicated. That’s quite an accomplishment for any collector or type of collection; however, beating a standing record or recognition was never the goal when he started collecting autographs, and then autographed books almost 35 years ago.
Dr. Kallin started collecting celebrity autographed photos after meeting the famous Bette Davis and other major entertainment industry personalities while in Hollywood in 1980. At the end of his brunch with Ms. Davis, seeing that he was not part of the so-called “Hollywood” crowd, she magnanimously offered him five vintage movie stills, which she signed. “Ms. Davis was known to not sign anything, even for friends like her former manager, who was the one who brought us together … he even warning me in advance not to ask for an autograph.” When Ken arrived back home and realized how valuable those signed photos were-especially after her demise-it provided the impetus to pursue obtaining more.
Thus began the quest, by any means possible, to garner celebrity autographed photos, preferably in person, each having to be signed on something with the person’s actual facial visage. Not one to do anything half-way, Dr. Kallin proceeded to accumulate great numbers of autographed celebrity photos, from all genres. Today his collection boasts over 50,000 celebrity autographed photos (22,600+ of which are in his main collection); 60,797+ autographed trading cards; and over 3,000 other signed items. When his focus expanded to include collecting autographed books, he went after that with the same drive and determination that has defined his collecting style.
Dr. Kallin shares that it takes a consummate amount of effort to search and find autographed books, “sometimes having to go through hundreds, even thousands to find those few treasures discarded by people not knowing what they had or the value contained therein.” He scoured garage sales, library book sales, bookstores, the Internet … and whenever possible, he acted to meet the author in-person, to interact and make the results even more special.
From the very beginning, each autographed item that Dr. Kallin obtained had to go through a 26-step process, including rigorous authentication, before being added to his collections; and, he continued a similar process with autographed books. Supporting the collection, as well as most of his other collectible lots, is a well-defined, descriptive, highly-researched database inventory list that “experts say would take a team of ten professionals, ten years to try to duplicate” … a reality which adds even more to the overall value of that collection.
Dr. Kallin’s autographed book collection gives real insight into both the 20th and first two decades of the 21st century … all through the literature, novels, poetry, biographies, and non-fiction books contained. He will tell you that each and every book in the collection is a valued favorite; however, there are some that are highly prized and/or much more valuable than others, particularly his signed and numbered (109/1,000) copy of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, which was signed during the famed World Cup Rugby matches in South Africa when Apartheid came to an end. “Michele Obama has a signed Mandela book that she openly says she prizes above any other possession.”
While the entire collection, at one time, resided in his home, it has since been moved to a four-bay storage unit in a highly secured facility, in South Florida, where they are displayed in alphabetical order to be viewed and verified by the applicable Guinness people/team.
At 72, Dr. Kallin admits that his physical capacity to keep up with things is diminishing, and for a number of personal family reasons he is now ready to liquidate the totality of his collectible accumulations through bulk lot sales (only). These lots include First Day Covers, Vintage Sheet Music, Movie Posters, Stamps, Antiquarian Books, Autographed Letters and Photos, Autographed Trading Cards, and Signed Bowling Pins among other categories. The exception is the autographed book collection for which he seeks a financial partner willing to work with him to donate this prized collection, in its entirety, to a major university that will commit to retaining and maintaining the collection’s historic grandeur in their campus library for posterity.
For more information and to view most lots, along with their extensive database inventory lists, go to auction.wisdomwar.com website or contact Dr. Kallin at email@example.com.