Collectors are a unique breed of their own. While we all savour moments from our past, collectors invest time and effort to carefully curate intimate objects that serve as a wormhole to a cherished space and time. But it’s no easy feat, for these collections demand zeal and diligence.
To celebrate the passion and spirit that fuels these collectors, &PrivéHD held a contest to give similar connoisseurs a platform to share their stories. Cutting across different cultures and backgrounds, these collectors indulge in diverse quirks – from airline baggage stamps to toys and banknotes. What they have in common is their passion and affection for high quality curation, much like &PrivéHD and their collection of curated selection of cinema for film enthusiasts named ‘The Bookmarked Collection’.
&PrivéHD presents the tales of some of the most unique collectors in India. Check it out!
I. Collector: Yashmi Adani
If you are passionate enough, you’ll end up collecting without any effort. Yashmi Adani from Mumbai has always loved reading without being bound by any genre. Soon, she realized that she had a collection of over 200 books, some of which were rare finds.
Her favorite book from her collection is an original edition of the book of letters between Churchill and Stalin during the war, which got her interested in history. While she collects a lot of older books, her contemporary collections are mainly focused on Pulitzer Prize winners and business books. She likes to refer to herself as a ‘chance collector’ who does not focus on completing her collection, but rather keeps an eye out for interesting books that will be an enlightening read and a worthy addition to her collection.
II. Collector: Neha Shungloo
Collection: Books, Stamps, Coins, and Banknotes
While most collectors are focused on a specific category, Neha Shungloo collects varied items and does it with great passion. When asked about her collection, she speaks of her versatility ,”I have never been a person who could specialize in something particular, but whatever I do collect, they are items that inspire me to learn from different cultures.” While her collection features over 150 books, they are very specifically curated. Featuring mytho – fiction, fairy tales, graphic novels, and pop-up books, she expressed the lengths she has gone to acquire these pieces to complete her collection. From vintage Tintin comics to the entire collection of pop-up books from the master of Mathew Reinheart, Robert Sabuda and Sam Ita, Neha places much time and effort to gather her rare collectibles.
III. Collector: Shah Umair
Collection: Coins & Banknotes
“When I show up at auction houses for buying coins, people are always surprised to see me,” Shah Umair spoke to us, speckled with laughter in his voice. Collecting coins and banknotes is a hobby that dates way back; but in this day and age, it’s not commonplace to witness a millennial who still holds such a fascination with coins. Shah Umair, an experienced curator from Gurgaon, has been collecting coins from the age of 6 or so, starting with unique coins his father handed to him. Soon enough it transformed into a collection that featured over 2100 coins that include a varied collection of Mughal- Era coins, State and Medieval India coins, Republic India Coins, and Foreign Banknotes and Coins.
A rare pre-annexation coin minted in the name of Aurangzeb in Patna is one amongst his prized collection. Undoubtedly, the coins passed onto him by his grandfather in a thin cigarette case is his most cherished possession.
IV. Collector: Harsh Vardhan
Growing up, most of us shared a special relationship with our toys. It’s a natural progression to to lose joy in them as we grow up. However, it’s very rare to see individuals who continue to see their value and hold on to them. Harsh Vardhan, a 2D Animator, and artist from Noida was a shy child who found solace in his GI Joes and Hot Wheels. They continue to be his prized possession that hold tremendous value for him with a whole lot of nostalgia.. His love for toys led him to be the founder of a group of toy collectors in India and development of a documentary on his collection.
Featuring over 1000 toys, he believes that his love for toys might be the reason why he was always creatively inclined. His interest now is focused on pieces he wanted to get a hold on to as a child. What previously featured only 15 GI Joes now stands at a staggering 300. According to him, there are varied types of toy collectors, but Harsh finds great joy in opening up the boxes and displaying the collection which he believes are an extension of himself and his interests.
V. Collector: Raghav Somani
Collection: Airline Baggage Tags
Growing up, Raghav Somani was fascinated with the images of airplanes. What started as collecting and pasting airline logos in his notebook at the age of 7, soon changed into collecting airline baggage tags. Dedicating time and energy into this collection, he was awarded the Guinness world record for collecting Airline Baggage tags at the age of 14. He has over 2000 airline baggage tags, including vintage airline tags from flights like Tata Airlines, which later became Air India, and the tag from the first flight of Ethiopian Airlines.
Knowing his love for tags, his friends and acquaintances saved their baggage tags for him on their travels. But when it comes to a memorable possession, he speaks fondly of a time when he wrote to Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Atlantic airline, to get their famed baggage tags and received rare silver-plated tags that were given away when a new aircraft was added to the fleet. The vintage Indian baggage tags hold a very special place in his collection. He expressed that they are not only a reflection of the airlines’ history but also of India itself.
VI. Collector: Arjun Chauhan
Collection: Chinese & Japanese books and antique dolls
Mumbai based Arjun Chauhan has always had a fascination with Asian literature and culture. In his younger years he explored the delights of Manga, which gradually extended to a wider interest in its literature and culture. He even goes so far as to say that he has felt more Asian than Indian. While his collections started with far eastern books, they slowly extended to Japanese dolls and figurines that capture the skill and nuanced technique of the people, along with their riveting history and beliefs. He scours the internet through Etsy, eBay, and many other online resources, to chance upon these rare vintage gems. To date, he has more than 500 books and 50 rare dolls and figurines in his glassed collection.
Amongst his prized collections, some of his favourites are the vintage Kokeshi (wooden) dolls of the character Daruma - who is essentially Bodhidharma, are renowned buddhist monk. The efforts placed to maintain his collections are seen as a great investment, despite the fact that the customs and logistics involved in procuring these items can be seemingly tedious. Not often does he chance upon these Japanese dolls and books in India, however he always keeps an eye out in his travels leading him to a rare auction at a flea market in the UK, for a rare vintage doll he found, which now seats itself delicately in his glass cabinet.
Passing over generations, and communicating stories of history, emotion, and journeys taken, collections can strike a chord with each person in a different way. &PrivéHD brings to you a similar collection of movies adapted from books that shows the best works of literature, poignantly captured on screen.
Known as The Bookmarked Collection, this curated list features movies that will evoke different emotions and memories for each person.
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