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Monday, April 30, 2007

Collector Interview - Jim Williams

Jim Williams is a collector I met at the Christie's auction. Recently, Jim found my blog and emailed me, and we started chatting again. He is the first of my collecting friends to fill out an interview I created, and I present it here for you all to enjoy!

The photos are Jim, his wife, Susan and his daughter Britta.


1. How did you become a Star Trek fan?

I grew up seeing occasional syndicated TOS episodes and loved the characters of Kirk and Spock. When I was in high school and college TNG was on and I felt like it was a series that I could really embrace. Wonderfully shiny, virtuous episodes, each a gem in a self contained episode. However, little did I know that DS9 was coming and that it would suck me in like no other television series ever could. This was the show that captivated my curiosity and attention. The great story arcs, the terrific cast, and the imperfections of the federation officers made it seem much more realistic. I had finally found the Star Trek series that resonated with my soul.

2. What was the first Star Trek prop you got and when was that? (also, was it real or a replica?)

The first Star Trek items I began collecting were the 40th anniversary costume cards. I spent several months collecting all the cards and wondered what the whole intact costumes would be like. So, when I heard of the Christie’s auction and realized that I had the chance to possibly own a bit of the franchise, I couldn’t pass up the chance.

3. Did you buy anything from the Christie's auction? Did you go to the auction of bid online?

I flew to New York and attended the Christie’s auction. The excitement, enthusiasm and lusting was palpable. The collectors I met were fantastic folks who shared their knowledge and experience. I was even lucky enough to find someone to go in on with for two of the multiple lots. This meant that on the Vedek Collection we could each get two of the four costumes in the lot and only have to pay half the total price. We also split the female Klingon lot of two costumes. This is was a great way to get a costume or two for much less than other single item lots because most individual collectors were ignoring multiple lots. My nerve-racking and adrenaline-surging purchases were: Commander Donatra from Nemesis, Dr. Beverly Crusher season one jumpsuit with rank pips and comm badge, Vedek Winn burgundy costume with the great hat, a green/grey Vedek, the Breen General Thot Pran, and, finally, a female Klingon outfit.

4. What have you gotten from the It's a Wrap auctions on eBay?

Noteworthy costumes so far are: Dmitri Valtane TWOK style Starfleet uniform, Romulan Tal Shiar, Section 31, Robert McNeill’s cadet academy jumpsuit, DS9 Starfleet Jumpsuit, Nemesis jumpsuit, and Logicians dugout banner.

While the IAW auction has received some criticism I have been very pleased. I wish shipping could occur a bit more quickly, but I genuinely feel very positive about all my interactions thus far. I find myself each week being drawn to the Ebay listings and wondering which of the listed items could be the next to grace my collection. It has definitely become an addiction, but it is one that I have few regrets about.

5. What else do you have in your collection?

My collection also includes an Andorian pistol from Christie’s, a Romulan disruptor rifle, a DS9 Starfleet rifle, and a Jem’Hadar pistol.

6. Do you collect replica props at all?

My replicas include a DS9 phaser and holster, along with several various comm badges and rank pips; all from Federation Surplus. They just can’t be beat! Brett does an amazing job.

7. Who is your favorite character and why?

It is hard to name just one favorite character so I am going with two: Gul Dukat and Chief O’Brien. Marc Alaimo is a brilliant actor who really helped carry DS9 and added so much depth to the already great scripting. Colm Meaney as O’Brien is the typical every-man: easy to relate to, hard working, and fraught with episodes designed to torment his poor soul.

8. Which is your favorite Star Trek show?

Is there any doubt by now? Certainly DS9

9. What is your Holy Grail item?

The ultimate collectible for me would be a First Contact style Admiral Ross outfit from DS9. Other wants include a Sela, Sisko, and Picard.


10. Any other thoughts on collecting?

I have no regrets buying any of the high ticket items because they have been visually fantastic, of an amazing quality, and easily recognizable. Purchases where I occasionally have had a few second thoughts have been background costumes. I have loved most of them but it is easy to get overrun with these often inexpensive but cool pieces. I would urge others to focus on pieces of meaning if they can afford them. Too many background costumes dilute the collection and make it look like a rack at the “Salvation Army” (Hi, Mark). There certainly are wonderful background outfits to go for, but use discretion. Look through the Christie’s catalog and notice that so many props and costumes are prominent and archetypal. All those items were gathered by the Okudas because they thought those items would appeal to the broadest range of collectors.

Most importantly, I have found that just like when buying art, buy what you like. You are the one who has to live with these items. I have a few costumes in my collection that I know other big collectors may have pooh-poohed, but I bought them because I loved the materials or the details, even though they aren’t “iconic.” The Enterprise Mine Guard and Tandaran Guard outfits are two examples. The mine guard is very impressive in person with it’s all-leather construction, multiple foam rubber applications, and nice boots. The Tandaran guard I liked for the design, color, patch on the sleeve, and awesome leather harness.

In preparation for the auction each week, watch the episodes these costumes and props come from, or do quick searches for them on www.trekcore.com. This is a great website with screen caps from every episode of every series. Then, once you buy your costumes and have them in your excited hands, you can look at the interior tags and search the names on Memory Alpha (the Star Trek section of Wikipedia) at http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Main_Page. This may give a great deal of information on the actor or stunt person who wore it. The information you gain will certainly give you more appreciation for the costume.

I would like thank you, Alec, for your efforts in maintaining a very well presented blog on this wonderful topic. If anyone would like to contact me regarding collecting, they may do so via email at jimmis89406@yahoo.com. I would be happy to discuss any aspects of the hobby.

If any of you will be at the Minneapolis Star Trek Convention May 4-6, let me know. It would be fun to meet up there. Thanks for letting me share my collection with you. Jim


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