Collections of Nothing by William Davies King - review by David Profumo

David Profumo

The World Sucks Rocks

Collections of Nothing


University of Chicago Press 163pp £14

Until I came across this remarkable book, I had been vaguely concerned about my multifarious collecting habits. Over the decades I have accumulated many hundreds of stuffed kittens, sections of barbed wire, tobacco pipes, items of bondieuserie, fishing floats (angling is itself an elemental form of collecting), wine corks, and shaving-foam tins. Entire regions of the house have been made over to assemblages of wrapped soap (fragrant, affordable, graphically packaged) or cigarette packets dating from the 1973–81 period when I was still smoking for England (amongst which facile princeps is my carton from Air Force One). Now, it seems, my various obsessions are but as a foothill compared with the K2 summit that is the lifetime’s achievement of William Davies King.

However recherché your chosen specialism, there are always other collectors out there – harmless eccentrics devoted to everything from teddy bears (arctophily) to Camembert cheese labels (tyrosemiophily). One lady in Poland concentrates exclusively on citrus-fruit wrappers, and I have a Perthshire neighbour who only becomes excited by animal

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