Collectrium Conversations: “Stories Behind Collections” with Vicky Randle-Zemborain & Ann Lydecker
Vicky Randle-Zemborain is a founding partner of My Special Book Storytelling (MSB), a family-owned firm that specializes in transforming stories, anecdotes and life experiences into lasting published memories.
Since 2002, MSB has worked with individuals, families, companies, and institutions to tell preserve their life stories. They offer a comprehensive service every step of the process which ensures both discretion and delight as a result.
Why specialize in collection story-telling books?
Both my grandmothers, one Prussian and one French, used a walking stick. They both had a marble handle but with different features because they came from different places. When I got married 50 years ago, my parents gave me these two walking sticks, and that was the start of a journey that has led me to treasuring a collection of over 400 walking sticks today.
Inspirational stories like this one tend to be an invisible, but key part of any collection. Not just the awakening of the passion, but the sum of hundreds of stories about how the different pieces were acquired and found their way into the collection.
Would you share a memorable story you have helped record?
Some are quite serendipitous, such as that passionate car collector who happened to pass an antiquated Mack truck while driving on a solitary road in Patagonia. Without a second thought, he turned the car around and set off in hot pursuit of the truck, making the truck’s surprised driver an offer so generous he couldn’t possibly refuse. Today that truck is part of a major collection of 150 antique, street and sports vehicles.
How does your work with a family impact their collection?
One client had a collection of walking sticks scattered around two separate houses in umbrella stands, hidden away in cupboards, etc. His wife maintained that the walking sticks should be polished and complained they took up too much room. Upon publishing the private book, she and her children fully realized the importance of what they had. With the book, the collector could travel with the collection and share it with other enthusiasts. The book cultivated an appreciation of sentimental and real value.
How is storytelling with MSB different than a Catalogue?
The time comes when the true value of the collection is not clear to the collector or the family and a dilemma arises: what is more important, monetary value or the value the collection journey?
The objects are there. They can be seen, researched and valued, but the stories are in the mind and heart of the person who had the passion, patience and commitment to make it a reality and keep it consistent and coherent. Furthermore, these stories help family members understand and become passionate about the collection. This is a critical factor in ensuring the continuity of the collection beyond the life span of its creator.