Eli Leon, collector of quilts and other items

Eli Leon — A lifetime of quirky collections for sale

Eli Leon and Lemmy. Photo courtesy of Eli Leo Living Trust
Eli Leon and Lemmy. Photo: Courtesy of Eli Leo Living Trust

For 55 years, Oakland Reichian psychotherapist Eli Leon collected kitchiana, textiles, aprons, vintage clothing, traditional standard quilts, and, most famously, Afro-tradition quilts which he bought in California and on repeated research and collecting trips to East Texas, northern Louisiana, and southern Arkansas.

Beginning on June 23 through 25, Geneva and Julie Addison will be selling his collections, other than the Afro-tradition quilts, in his home at 5663 Dover St. in Oakland, a few blocks south of Berkeley. The collections are breathtaking — manifestations of a driven collector with a sharp eye for acquisition and for juxtaposition in his home. Proceeds from the sale will go towards Leon’s care. See their blog about the sale, with more than 500 photographs.

At my Quirky Berkeley blog, I explored Leon’s life, home and collections. Here I present a small portion of the wonderful quirk that will be for sale this weekend. The first weekend of the sale will deal with the non-textile collections. The traditional quilts and other textiles will be sold later this summer. The sale is first come, first served. It represents a perfect chance to pick up some pre-collected quirky material culture and to honor a great scholar and collector.

Describing Leon’s collection is not simple.

A homemade vest, using a grits sack for the fabric.

Leon’s most famous collection is of African-American quilts; it is the hope of his Trust that the collection be preserved intact by a museum or consortium of museums, so none will be for sale. About 100 of the traditional American quilts, but here are a couple photos that give a sense:

Double Wedding ring-yellow

Double wedding ring quilt. Photo: Chere Mah
Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on June 15th, 2017.

Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on June 15th, 2017.

Leon kept most of his quilts in temperature and humidity-controlled airtight vaults.

Leon was a passionate and driven and skilled collector. I have never seen a better opportunity for buying quirky little things, and visiting Leon’s house will give a glimpse into the world of that driven and talented collector.

 

Tom Dalzell, a labor lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to share all the whimsical objects he has captured with his iPhone. The site now has more than 8,000 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-year resident muses on what it all means.