Collection agency

Monday, March 7, 2011 at 6:22pm
A part of Debbie Sisco's hands collection (Jude Ferrara/SouthComm)

The Adventure Science Center is asking for your collectibles.

And the more off-the-wall the better.

The local civic icon — which overlooks downtown from a hill it shares with Fort Negley — is preparing for Collectors Day, to be held Saturday, May 14.

People are invited to display their collections and share their passion with visitors to the facility, and items do not have to be science related. So if you want to allow your fellow Nashvillians to revel in that, say, thimble collection you’ve had since 1965, this is your chance.

ASC officials are taking applications for those who want to participate through Tuesday, March 15.

“So far, we’ve got about 25 who’ve applied,” said Virginia Crowe, ASC director of marketing.

Submitted to date, but not yet finalized, are collections of editions of Moby Dick books, dolls, antique bottles, Transformers (some from Japan), novelty transistor radios, Mardi Gras doubloons (you know, those little coins) and giraffe figurines.

“There is a nice diversity,” Crowe said. “But we’re happy to hear from more collectors. We don’t want to miss out on something cool.”

Perhaps the most unusual collection submitted so far is that of Debbie Sisco. A local nurse, Sisco collects sculpted hands — ceramic, wooden, glass, porcelain and plastic. She also has drawn and painted hands in her collection of more than 200 pieces.

Sisco started the collection as a teenager.

“I bought a tiny hand ring holder … and still have it,” she said. “My mother had a hand dish that I still have. But to actually say, ‘why?’ I don't know. Just that I love them and they are my passion.

Sisco has traveled as far as Washington state searching for additions to her unusual collection. She is keen on antique shops and knows of a 96-year-old woman in California who collects hands and from whom Sisco is buying some pieces.

“It’s the search and find that is so exciting,” said Sisco, who never had her collection appraised.

Of course, collecting hands can be perceived as a bit odd.

“The funny part is people’s expression when I tell them I collect hands,” she said. “They look so puzzled and confused. When I first tell them, I believe they think of it as gruesome or weird. It couldn’t be further from the truth. They are truly beautiful.”

Like most hard-core collectors, many of whom are likely a bit eccentric, Sicso has a limit.

“If someone told me they collected feet, I would think that was weird,” she said with a chuckle.

Not surprisingly — and like any collector — Sisco has several pieces she likes best and/or that are hard to find.

“One is a hand holding a crown with jewels around it,” she said. “I have a Lefton China hand that holds an orb. I've never seen another one like it. I also have several hands holding glass slippers and glass purses. I have some hand vases that hold porcelain shells. I also have hand jewelry such as pins, which were popular during the 1920s through 50s.”

ASC’s Crowe said the collections the facility will eventually exhibit will be announced April 15. Interestingly, the Adventure Science Center will not have its own collection as part of the exhibit.

ASC last conducted a similar one-day collectors’ exhibit 12-13 years ago, Crowe recalled.

“It’s something we’re excited to bring back,” she said.