If there’s anyone more obsessive than Sherlock Holmes, it’s Glen Miranker. The former Apple executive owns the largest private collection of Sherlock Holmes works, totaling 4,500 items including books, manuscripts, illustrations, and other oddities. How he amassed such a collection isn’t a mystery — he’s been at it since the 1970s.
What inspires these collections? Collecting combines the ratlike pleasure of compulsive acquisition with the godlike pleasure of presiding over one’s own little world; and, to a certain extent, the enjoyment of expanding and organizing this world has little to do with the particular objects one collects. Some convention-goers’ interest in postcards seemed to be limited to the opportunity it gave them to hunt and categorize. They collected cards according to certain narrow themes, which they pursued single-mindedly: postcards of Ithaca, N.Y.; clowns; animals; general stores; early 20th-century strongmen; people dressed as fruit. One seller claimed he’d met a man who collected only postcards of left-handed harpists.