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Well-seasoned: Lebanon man’s collection of salt and pepper shakers is 2,000 pairs strong

  • Bob Joslin, of Lebanon, N.H., looks over his more than 2,100 salt and pepper shakers at his home on Thursday, July 2, 2020. His mother started the collection and he has added to it over the years. Joslin is now looking for a buyer of the collection. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Crackers salt and pepper shakers are a part of Bob Joslin's collection of over 2,100 at his home in Lebanon, N.H., on July 2, 2020. Joslin is looking to sell the entire collection. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • An old phone salt and pepper shakers are a part of Bob Joslin's collection of over 2,100 at his home in Lebanon, N.H., on July 2, 2020. Joslin is looking to sell the entire collection. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Bear cubs up a tree salt and pepper shakers are a part of Bob Joslin's collection of over 2,100 at his home in Lebanon, N.H., on July 2, 2020. Joslin is looking to sell the entire collection. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dental hygiene salt and pepper shakers are a part of Bob Joslin's collection of over 2,100 at his home in Lebanon, N.H., on July 2, 2020. Joslin is looking to sell the entire collection. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Mary and her lamb salt and pepper shakers are a part of Bob Joslin's collection of over 2,100 at his home in Lebanon, N.H., on July 2, 2020. Joslin is looking to sell the entire collection. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • A mouse and cheese salt and pepper shakers are a part of Bob Joslin's collection of over 2,100 at his home in Lebanon, N.H., on July 2, 2020. Joslin is looking to sell the entire collection. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The home mortgage salt and pepper shakers are a part of Bob Joslin's collection of over 2,100 at his home in Lebanon, N.H., on July 2, 2020. Joslin is looking to sell the entire collection. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • A set of silver salt and pepper shakers are a part of Bob Joslin's collection of more than 2,100 at his home in Lebanon, N.H., on July 2, 2020. Joslin is looking to sell the entire collection. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • A set of pepper shakers shaped like a piano are a part of Bob Joslin's collection of more than 2,100 at his home in Lebanon, N.H., on July 2, 2020. Joslin is looking to sell the entire collection. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Rows of salt and pepper shakers line a room in Bob Joslin's home in Lebanon, N.H. Joslin is now trying to sell the collection of over 2,100 sets. Some depict racist caricatures that many people would find offensive today; he said they date back to when his mother started the collection in the 1950s, and he would throw them away if a buyer didn't want them. Others include animals, sports balls and food items. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/3/2020 8:46:37 PM
Modified: 7/3/2020 8:47:03 PM

LEBANON — When Bob Joslin built his Stoney Brook Road home in 2004, he made sure it included a special room.

He needed somewhere to store and display his salt and pepper shakers — a couple thousand pairs.

“There’s some from everywhere,” Joslin, 80, recalled in a recent interview.

Numbering more than 2,100, most have been in Joslin’s life since 1952, when his late mother began her collection.

He’s not sure why she started collecting them, only that once she started, she was hooked.

“She used to have them in cabinets all over the house,” he said. “She started years ago, got a bunch of them, and kept on going.”

Once family and friends knew of her collection, more salt and pepper shakers started pouring in as souvenirs from different places.

As his mother got older, she offered the shaker collection to Joslin, and he set about finding the best way to display them. The room in Joslin’s house contains dozens of cascading custom-built shelves for the salt and pepper shakers. A large window provides natural light. The eyes of hundreds of characters peer up — from nuns, to frogs, to chefs and more.

“I think there was around 1,200 when I got them,” he said.

In the years since, he’s added nearly a thousand more.

When he enlisted in the Army, he would send them to friends and family from around the world. Later, he and his late wife would seek them out in their travels, including winters in Arizona.

“We used to pick them up here, there and everywhere,” Joslin said. “My shelves are full.”

There was no real rhyme or reason to which ones they bought: They simply picked out ones that they liked. There are Santa Clauses and corn stalks, elephants and sports balls, playing cards and toaster ovens. A pair of pencils sits next to a pair of lightbulbs. Two cartoonishly long pigs are arranged next to a mouse holding two pieces of cheese — one for salt, one for pepper.

“There’s some in there that are pretty rare. I never kept track of that stuff. I just kept buying,” Joslin said. “Every once in a while I’d get something I’d have a duplicate and I’d take it right out.”

Now, he is looking to sell the entire collection, crossing his fingers for a $19,500 payout. With an estimated 2,147 in the collection, the price-per-pair amounts to a little more than $9 per pair.

“I’ve got a bunch of kids and no one wants them,” he said of the shakers. “I won’t sell them one by one. I want them all gone.”

Included are a handful of sets portraying racist caricatures that many people would find offensive today; Joslin said he didn’t buy those pairs, and he’s ready to throw them in the trash if a buyer doesn’t want them. They date back to when his mother started the collection in the 1950s, he said.

“They were real old ones. They are men of history,” he said.

With the help of his grandson, Joslin listed the collection for sale on Facebook Marketplace on Tuesday, including a series of pictures showing row after row of salt and pepper shakers. “Some may be very valuable,” the post reads. “Asking ($19,500) or best offer.”

In general, selling collections has been made harder by the advent of the internet and generational changes in attitudes toward collecting, said Bill Smith, owner of William Smith Auctions in Plainfield.

Younger generations do not approach collecting the same way that other generations did. These days, salt and pepper shakers regularly sell for a couple dollars at area thrift stores, and the eBay auction website lists most sets in the $5 to $20 range.

“Years ago people collected as a pastime,” said Bill Smith, owner of William Smith Auctions in Plainfield. “They obviously took a liking to a specific thing. But the reality is the enjoyment came in searching for the items.”

That changed as the internet came into play.

“Discovery has become much more easier because of the internet. That’s one of the reasons you see less and less collectors of things like Hummel (figurines),” Smith said. “Now if you want a Hummel, you can go on eBay (and) you can find thousands of them. It’s taken the intrigue and fun out of collecting.”

That in turn has caused items to decrease in value. Younger generations also tend to shy away from taking on a massive collection from their parents or grandparents, whether it be salt and pepper shakers or multiple sets of ceramic dishware.

Many younger people “don’t want tchotchkes, they don’t want clutter,” Smith said. “They want a simple life.”

The auction house regularly sells collections, but they are usually antiques. And all of the items are seldom purchased and kept by the same buyer, who might then try to make a profit on what they bought at auction.

The Cover Store in White River Junction will occasionally receive collections that people donate, though nothing like the scale of Joslin’s.

“We’ve had dolls before, but nothing real big,” store manager Mitch Ross said.

The dolls are usually priced individually, but if someone wanted to buy the whole lot, they could purchase them for a discounted rate.

“It takes much longer,” Ross said. “You’ve got to get the right person to come through the door.”

Joslin is hoping that right person to comes along, sooner rather than later.

“I hope he shows up here,” he said. “Somebody who’s got a big house and who could partition something off in a corner, similar to what I’ve done.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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