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Gomez Addams was the Original ‘Mantiques’ Collector

by Gregory Watkins (06/04/14).

Was Gomez Addams the ultimate mantiques collector? A hookah is certainly a legitimate mantique.

Was Gomez Addams the ultimate mantiques collector? A hookah is certainly a legitimate mantique.

After talking with Eric Bradley—the author of the newly released book “Mantiques: A Manly Guide to Cool Stuff”—last week about mantiques and who collects them, I started thinking about who in popular culture had an affinity for the weird, manly stuff that fall in this collectibles category. I have only been able to come up with one character, but I believe he could be counted as the ultimate mantiques collector.

I am thinking, of course, of Gomez Addams, patriarch of the Addams Family. Regardless of which Gomez Addams comes to your mind—he of Charles Addams’ The New Yorker comic panels, the John Astin version from “The Addams Family” television show or Raul Julia from “The Addams Family” movies—the character has an, um, eccentric, enthusiastic exuberance for all things manly and, well, weird or odd. Cool would be another term to describe his material likes, and he filled his mansion near the cemetery with a view of the swamp with items that would fit right in at any mantique shop or collector’s home.

When I think of Señor Addams, I think of the ’60s television version, simply because that was my first encounter with the Addamses was on television reruns after school in the early ’70s. I loved his retro style (for the time), wearing conservative pinstriped suits and spats, with a watch on a chain in his coat pocket and always puffing on a big cigar but, most of all, for all of the cool stuff he kept in the house. Today, that house, despite—or maybe because of—some the more macabre pieces, would be considered a three-dimensional primer on how to put together a mantiques collection.

Boy, that must have some great fishing tale attached to this marlin with a leg in its mouth.

Boy, that must be some great fishing tale attached to this marlin with a leg in its mouth.

Pierre, the Moose, presides over the goings-on in the Addams’ parlor.

Pierre, the Moose, presides over the goings-on in the Addams’ parlor.

This one may be hard to find. Two-headed tortoises are so shy.

This one may be hard to find. Two-headed tortoises are so shy.

Taking stock of just the mansion’s parlor reveals great conversation pieces, which is mainly what a mantique is—something odd that had a great story behind it. Let’s start with the piece that always comes to my mind when I think about the Addams’ home: the stuffed marlin with the leg (wearing striped pants and a deck shoe) sticking out of its mouth. Boy, that must have some great fishing tale attached to that one. Take away the leg, though, and the taxidermied fish would work in any mantique collector’s office or den. There are a few other ex-animals residing in the room, including a 12-foot-tall stuffed bear, a moose head, an elephant foot ashtray and a giant, two-headed tortoise. Finding these items for your personal collection might take some doing (at least the tortoise), and you had better check out the regulations regarding buying trophy mounts in your state.

Staying on top of one’s finances allows one to buy the toys he wants.

Staying on top of one’s finances allows one to buy the toys he wants.

Every boy loves his electric train set. Some boys never outgrow it.

Every boy loves his electric train set. Some boys never outgrow it.

A little music, please, Thing.

A little music, please, Thing.

Move some chairs out of the way and, en guard!

Move some chairs out of the way, Cara Mia, and en guard!

For entertainment, the room features an exquisitely decorated harpsichord (played by Lurch, the butler), a gramophone (operated by Thing), a hookah (for when a cigar just won’t do) and a great electric train set-up on a large table (for releasing aggression). Additionally, the room can be used for fencing or other weapon-based exercises (indoor archery, maybe).While the first-noticed pieces are the big-ticket items, it’s the nick-knacks that fill out any collection, and Gomez has put a lot of thought into filling in the room. He has a collection of beer steins on a sideboard, and a wonderful matching pair of open-mouthed cobra candle holders on the mantle, flanking Pierre, the moose head. The room also sports Asian collectibles, including a little Fu dog statue, large porcelain vases and a life-size, grimacing samurai statue. To keep track of his never-clearly-stated business dealings, Gomez has a working tickertape machine within handy reach that he reads by light of Tiffany style stained glass table lamps. Not one to be locked into conforming to one particular collectible category, the furniture is a varied assortment of styles, from Louis XVII to Victorian wicker to late safari horn-and-antler pieces, with palace-sized Persian carpets covering the floor.

Put it all together and it looks something like this.

Put it all together and it looks something like this.

Now, knowing that Mr. Addams is a man of means, he wouldn’t think twice about buying a new item for his collection. For most of the rest of us, we need to look for deals when we can. Where would you look for items like these? Or, better yet, do you own items like these? I’d love to hear how your acquired them.

After all, don’t we all have a little Gomez Addams in each of us?


Register for our “Mantiques – Manly Collecting Comes Out of the Mancave” online event featuring Eric Bradley on Thursday, June 12, at 2 p.m. EST. Click here to register.


Gregory Watkins is the editor of WorthPoint.com You can e-mail him at greg.watkins@worthpoint.com.

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12 Responses to “Gomez Addams was the Original ‘Mantiques’ Collector”

  1. Kim ST Romain says:

    I always did like the Adams Family and the Monsters taste in decorating!

  2. Mary Paquette says:

    Holy Moly! I have a Gramophone, many foo dogs, 1950′s Lionel train setup, Cobra candle holders, Hooka my Dad brought back from Egypt, elephant foot stool, I have a photo of my Dad sitting on it circa 1926, 6 faux Tiffany table lamps, and a faux stuffed Rat’s A–, Gift for my husband to put on his CNC Machine, and when anyone asks him what he thinks, he points to the Rat’s behind ! LOL I like things that are different, I would love to have the Adams Mansion.

  3. sierraseven says:

    For an example of a real-life mantiques collector, I’d like to nominate Erle Stanley Gardner, the author of hundreds of mystery stories, including the famed “Perry Mason” series.
    Photos of his office show an impressive collection of oddities from all around the world, including weaponry of all kinds.

    • Gregory Watkins Gregory Watkins says:

      That’s a good call, too. I thought about Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe character as a mantiques collector, as the things in his office would attest–especially the three-foot-diameter globe and large hunk of amber used by a woman to bash her husband’s skull. I’ll do some research on Mr. Gardner.

  4. Jmes Utley says:

    Please give credit to Louis H Hertz who defined this genre in his 1969 book-Antique Collecting for Men. This book is very well written, clearly defines “mantiques” and provides terrific photographs of examples from each of the important categories.

  5. Betolucci says:

    Take a look at Steed’s apartment in the 1960′s Avengers.

    • Gregory Watkins Gregory Watkins says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Mark. The Avengers were a little too adult for me at that time, but I do remember having a crush on Emma Peel.

      • Betolucci says:

        Steed’s apartment was a wealthy bachelor man-cave, brimming with flintlocks and military prints. Not exactly eccentric, though he has been described that way. Looking at my home office, I can see an Addams family influence. Thank you for the fun and thoughtful piece. (I still have a crush on Emma Peel).

  6. Rob Atkinson says:

    I believe it’s ‘knick-knacks’…

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