Collecting for murder... Dorothy's ruby slippers arrive.
Updated: Jan 20
Although I collect for fun, I also collect for nostalgia and a connection to a historical or an imagined period of time. Many of the murder mystery dinner parties that I create are set in the past, such as The Jane Austen Murder Mystery which takes place in 1815 or The Titanic Murder Mystery on the eve of April 14th, 1912. Collecting for them is always fun, especially when you can display your finds on the night of the party. Finding authentic first edition books, old dinner plates, vintage wine glasses, and even costume pieces help to create the perfect setting for a particular game and may help your guests get into their character by showing them what it might have been like to live during that period.
I've received many emails from murder mystery gamers who also spend their time rummaging flea markets on weekends for that perfect item that will compliment their game room on the night of their murder mystery dinner party.
The Wizard Of Oz Collection
One hundred and twenty years after its first publication, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum remains one of the world's best-loved story's. It is a lot of fun to collect for your Oz dinner party, as well as decorate for it and share the final results with your friends.
Above: Some of my collection includes the 75th anniversary Wizard of Oz collectors book. Award winning Noble collectors pin set. The Wizard of Oz Toy Theater by Dick Martin (1985). Original Motion Picture sound track (1995). Exact replica Ruby Slippers, Icon studios 2020 (limited edition), an autographed picture from the last remaining male munchkin Jerry Maren (centered in picture wearing green) and The Wizard of Oz original screenplay signed by Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton.
The Titanic Collection
The Titanic Murder Mystery game was one of the first games I created. I loved everything about the ship, it's history (other than the sinking) the glamour, the menu, the classes etc. And while I was thinking up an original story line for the game, I scoured every flea market and sale I could get to. Picking up wonderful items that I thought would enhance the evening making it more real for my guests became my obsession.
Above: Some of my collection includes the First edition "Sinking of the Titanic" By L. H. Walter (1912). The Titanic Collection Box (1998). Replica "Heart of the Ocean" diamond necklace from the movie Titanic. "Dinner Plate" from the Titanic Artifact Collection. Authentic 70MM film cell "Rose and Jack". The original screen play "Titanic" autographed by James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Gloria Stuart, David Warner and Frances Fisher.
The DaVinci Collection
I loved the DaVinci Code movie adapted from Dan Brown's book. The look of the film, the mystery of the story and the slow reveal of what could possibly be one of history's greatest cover ups was so exciting to me. I needed to take a closer look at the mysteries that surround one of the greatest artists that the world has ever known, Leonardo DaVinci. This included a trip to Florence Italy on Leonardo 564th birthday to look for clues, props, books, art and anything that would help me explore deeper into the artist and then to create a great story line for The DaVinci Murder Mystery game.
Above: Some of my collection includes "Inventions", modeled from the drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci, Walter Books (2008). The Leonardo da Vinci Puzzle Codex by Richard Galland Wolfrik (2014) and the original screenplay "The DaVinci Code" autographed by Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen, Audrey Tautou and Dan Brown.
The Jane Austen Collection
The Jane Austen game was my second murder mystery, and like Titanic, I fell in love with the subject. Jane Austen is a fun game to collect for. Antique dinner plates, tea sets, serving platters and three tiered cookie stands are all fun elements that can create the perfect look for a JA party. I remember searching through bins at our local flea market and finding great period music, a must for the perfect atmosphere.
Above: Some of my collection includes The Jane Austen Illustrated Treasury by Rebecca Dickson (2008). Replica Traditional 17th Century English Playing Cards. Replica 17th century European chocolate, coffee and tea set. The complete Novels of Jane Austen, Modern Library 1925. Replica letters from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, 1796.
The Vampire Collection
It doesn't get any better than collecting and decorating for a spooky vampire party. The original 1897 Gothic horror novel by Bram Stoker Dracula was a starting point for my envisioned vampire murder mystery dinner party, and collecting for it was all consuming. A big long table laden with vintage glasses filled with blood red wine, platters of meat... for the humans of course, and subtle symbols of bats and crosses hidden within the decor. A fun party to collect for, and most any antique with a Gothic twist works.
Above: Some of my collection includes Vampireology, candlewick press. Vampyre, The lost journal of Dr. Cornelius Van Helsing (2007). Replica brass flintlock pistol, circa 1800. Vintage cross 1932. Dracula's Heir by Sam Stall (2008).
The Witches Collection
The month before Halloween is a great time to start looking for those special items that you can use for your upcoming party. Collecting for the witches game was an exciting and immersive experience. I began by taking a trip to the heart of witch lore in North America ... Salem Massachusetts. Here, the shops were filled with cool looking bottles of potions, crystals, herbs and all manner of witch paraphernalia. I bought prints, cards, spell books, candles, and best of all, we brought home tons of inspiration.
Above: Some of my collection include bottles of various oils with herbs (1967). Vintage looking replicas of Halloween paper- Mâché folk art. Replica bones, owls and old brooms.
Above: My other autographed scripts include "The Lord of the Rings" signed by Liv Tyler. "Aliens" signed by James Cameron, Sigourney Weaver, Paul Reiser, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, and Lance Henriksen. "Toy Story" signed by Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles and Annie Potts. And not pictured here; "Gladiator" signed by Russell Crow and Ridley Scott.
The Ruby Slippers (Wizard of Oz)
Above: Replica Ruby Slippers (Wizard of OZ) Icon studios 2020 (limited). These registered collector shoes are an exact copy of the ones that Judy Garland wore in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. They are perfect in every way, right down to the inside labels (Innes Shoe Co.) and her shoe size of 5B.
Of the four pairs of authentic ruby slippers known to exist, the pair that these shoes are modeled after and are marked inside " #7 Judy Garland " are known to be in the best condition as they were used mostly for the closeups in the movie. Due to their iconic stature, the ruby slippers are among the most valuable items of all film memorabilia to date.
The magic of the Ruby Slippers is found in the power to believe in your dreams.
To be transported to another place and time is something that we can all imagine. When you've taken the time to create a special environment for your murder mystery evening, your guests will feel it too and can immerse themselves in the theme that you have planned for them. Then suddenly, it all becomes real the moment everyone sit down for dinner and the game begins, and in the case of the Wizard of Oz Murder Mystery Game, you are now somewhere ...over the rainbow.
Angela Landsbury - Murder She Wrote
And last but not least my small collection (but highly loved) Ron Kron dolls. I was given the opportunity to own these two one of a kind dolls hand made by the artist who called them "portrait sculptures," Ron Kron. They were created in Mr.Kron's Greenwich Village studio, New York City, circa 1970. Of the many dolls he created he only made "one of each celebrity, and passed away in 1994.
Kron's work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of the City of New York and the Library of Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
Although I would have loved Angela to be dressed in an iconic detective outfit with a trench coat, deer stalker hat and possibly holding a magnifying glass, I am happy to have her here dressed as Mame Dennis from the Broadway musical "Mame".
My second doll is of course the fabulous Carol Channing dressed as the character Dolly Levi from "Hello Dolly". Before I acquired "The girls" they had been on display at the 50-Year Salute to American Theater Wing and It's Tony awards exhibit in New York 1989.
Ron Kron; Seen here with a few of his one of a kind dolls, Marlene Dietrich to the left and Liza Minnelli in the background right. He passed away in 1994.