Rare book and memorabilia collector to sell collection for ailing daughter

Ken Kallin holds up a book autographed by Nelson Mandela. (Associated Press)

A Florida memorabilia collector who has spent decades amassing thousands of celebrity autographs and rare books is selling off his prized possessions to help his ailing daughter, the Associated Press reports.

Ken Kallin, 67, started collecting signed photos, books and trading cards in 1980 after meeting Bette Davis. Since then, he's added to his treasure trove by attending book signings, charity golf tournaments and celebrity appearances, scouring garage sales and buying from other collectors and friends.

However, his 43-year-old daughter and her husband have been struggling financially because she suffers from a rare autoimmune disorder, which sometimes involves taking powerful chemotherapy drugs. The family pays $2,200 a month for health insurance and her deductible is $1,250. The couple also has two children to support.

Kallin's collection, which includes 120,000 pieces of memorabilia, was described as "once-in-a-lifetime" by an expert not connected with the sale, and is expected to draw some big spenders this weekend.

The collection features more than 680 antique books, more than 7,000 contemporary books, rare letters, and tens of thousands of autographed photos, trading cards and sheet music dating back to 1864, and vintage Tin Tin books in French. The celebrity signatures in Kallin's possession include Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Julia Child.

The collection hasn't been independently appraised, but the auction house and Kallin believe it's worth $4.5 million based on valuations for comparable items that have sold recently.

"It's for a higher purpose," Kallin said.

-With files from the Associated Press

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