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Collector Spotlight: Laurence Sheinman


Laurence Sheinman collects Bugs Bunny memorabilia. He discusses the unique origins of his collection and the one item that got away.

Describe your collection.

I own about a thousand items relating to Bugs Bunny. There are vintage Halloween masks, large plush animals, posters, cookie jars, various toys, clothing, animation cells, a pinball machine, and so many other items. I do have a number of other Looney Tunes’ characters represented in my collection, but Bugs Bunny is my focus.

My oldest piece is from the late 1930s/early 1940s. It’s a tin toy featuring Bugs and Porky Pig; when you pull a lever, Mel Blanc’s voice announces, “That’s all folks!”.

When and why did you start collecting?

I started collecting about 30 years ago. My eldest sister, Patty, loves to buy gifts for her family and friends. I suggested to her that she focus her gifts to me on two of my passions: Bugs Bunny and baseball. Things grew from there. The collectibles market was a bit different 30 years ago. There weren’t that many Bugs Bunny items to be found and there was no eBay. Finding items for the collection became a real treasure hunt. Jessica, my wife, and I lived in New York City in those days. On weekends we borrowed one of our parents’ cars to get out of the city and see the countryside. To give the trips a mission, we would stop at flea markets and antique shops to look for Bugs Bunny items. It’s an activity we continued after our kids were born.

I didn’t know at the time that there were shows and events dedicated to collectibles. I found this out by accident, really. When I was about 12-years old, I wrote a letter to Archie Comics; I loved Archie and Jughead. The comics reprinted the best letters and I won! I think I also received $5 for my contribution. I clipped out my letter from the comic but never saved the full issue. When I was in my 30s, I wondered if I could find the original issue of Jughead Jokes #14 to have as a keepsake. This was before the internet so I scanned comic- and collectible-related magazines and newsletters to see if anyone could possibly have it. Months later someone called me because they had found it; they had a piece of my history! Now, how much was I prepared to pay for this piece of my history? When I originally bought the comic I paid ten cents. I really wanted to have the full edition – and the seller knew that. I braced myself for the cost…they asked $1.25. What a deal! I met the seller at a nearby collectibles show and that’s how I discovered that these types of shows exist.

How do you display and store your collection?

Not everything is on display because there are so many pieces and some are very large. Many of the t-shirts, buttons, placemats, and TV trays are in storage. The displays have grown from simple wooden shelves to much nicer glass cabinets. The only stipulation Jessica has is that the collection is kept to one character. I’ve snuck in some other characters, such as Sylvester, but she’s okay with it because she really enjoys the collection, too. I have her to thank for the glass cabinets. If it wasn’t for her, the collection might still be in the back room rather than in the main part of our house.

 

What do you consider to be the Holy Grail of Bugs Bunny collectibles?

Each item in the collection is precious and important for different reasons. If I could keep only one item, it would be the bronze Bugs Bunny baseball statue. I broke the bank for that one in my early days of collecting. I saved up to buy it by not spending on eating out, walking long distances instead of taking taxis, and other small sacrifices.

I once passed up a Bugs Bunny cookie jar that I would love to have now. Bugs was lying in his classic pose atop the cookie jar. It’s from the ’50s or ’60s. It was out of my price range at that time in my life but I would love to find it again. Cookie jars by themselves are great collectibles.

What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a similar collection?

Collecting is fun when you have someone else doing it with you. To us, the most fun was the fact that we did not plan or research anything. We went on country drives as a family and made the Bugs Bunny hunt part of the trip; we weren’t looking for anything in particular.

Also, I think it’s okay to start with a modest budget. Objects in mint condition or those that are new in the box can be pricey. It’s okay to buy something scratched because you love it and it makes you feel good. 

What resources do you use to acquire knowledge about your collectibles and connect with other collectors?

I belong to a Looney Tunes Facebook Group but it’s mostly reminiscing about characters and plots. I’m not looking for additions to my collection so much right now and I don’t know the value of my collection. I haven’t even catalouged it yet. 

Learn more about Laurence’s collection by watching this video on the OnlyGood TV YouTube channel.

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