Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Collections of Nothing

Collections of Nothing
Dear William Davies King,
I just finished reading your book and I found your story equally fascinating and revolting. Yes, it was that good. Two things attracted me to your book. First: material culture and psychology are interests of mine and your book addressed both, specifically the psychology behind your collecting obsession. The cover adorned with envelope security patterns was the second thing that pulled me in. I collect them too and I was intrigued to learn about your collection. In essence, I bought your book for its cover and finally on page 104 (out of 163) I learned some of what I hoped to know. I was truly impressed that at the time of you writing this book, you had over 800 distinct patterns. Given your commitment (compulsion?) to collect, I'm certain that this collection has grown. My collection consists of 110 patterns-- a fraction of your accumulation. Needless to say, I have pattern envy.

I disagree with a few points from page 104. You state a) that no one wants what you have (I do!); b) that there are no websites for envelope linings (wrong again-- just search for security patterns). Here are several websites devoted security patterns:
• Designer Joseph King has a website called and an impressive Flickr account, both devoted to security patterns.
• Kenn Speiser's website Tinted Safety Envelope Research has categorized "safety envelope" patterns according to families that he has called: weave & tile; circles, dot, & gons; log jam; code; images & logos, etc.
Samantha Haedrich has created a book of envelope security patterns
• I have written several posts featuring security patterns, as have other bloggers.

I was excited to discover the website with your Secret Dictionaries: The Collages of William Davies King. Please consider scanning your collection of security patterns and putting it online for us all to see. Better yet, you could write a companion book to Collections of Nothing with images of your collections after all, what is material culture porn without photos?

                                                                              With thanks, Karen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Karen,

Thank you for this message and for expanding my awareness of security pattern collectors. At the time of writing the book, as you know, I had zero awareness of the fact that there is a whole world of such collecting. I included an image of one page of my envelope lining book as an illustration for the book, but the book's designer decided that it should be used as the cover (prize-winning). As a result, many people became aware of the book, including collectors such as you. Here are a few more sites to look at:

and this is the site of an artist who first alerted me to this category of collecting (he was writing a thesis about it, as I recall):

I have been putting more attention into my collages lately, though I still collect. Unfortunately I am not good at using the internet, so you more or less have to come to Santa Barbara to see these things. Let me know if you are in the area.

And yes, I am thinking of writing another book about collecting, though so far I've only written some short pieces of it.

Many thanks, Karen.

Davies King