Bright Young Collectors: Lindsay Moen

Courtesy of Lindsay Moen

Our Bright Young Collectors series continues today with Lindsay Moen, who collects Beatrix Potter.

Where are you from / where do you live?

I grew up in Vermillion, South Dakota, and currently live in Iowa City, Iowa.

What did you study at University? What do you do now for an occupation?

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics: Ancient Civilizations, a Museum Studies certificate, and a Music minor from the University of Iowa in 2011. I also graduated with a Master of Arts in Library and Information Science from the University of Iowa in 2014.

I am currently the Lead Public Services Librarian at the University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives, where I have worked since 2010 in various student and staff roles. My primary duties involve managing the department’s reading room and reference efforts, supporting our instruction program, and hiring, training, and supervising most of our student employees.

Please introduce us to your book collection. What areas do you collect in? 

I collect anything and everything related to Beatrix Potter. My primary collecting format is books, pamphlets, and printed ephemera. My collection also consists of dishware, stuffed animals, jewelry, artwork, miniatures, textiles, and other odds and ends.

My collection of Beatrix Potter materials, primarily focusing on Peter Rabbit, began as soon as I was born.  My first gift as an infant was a Peter Rabbit stuffed animal, which quickly became my favorite toy. Family members noticed, and would occasionally get me other Peter Rabbit objects, so upon entering college I already had a good amount of materials.

My interest in the rare book collecting of Beatrix Potter materials solidified after I began employment as a student in the University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives, where we are fortunate enough to have a rare privately printed copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I learned more about rare books and collecting at work, pairing it with my love for Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter.

I keep my collection on display in a dedicated room in our house which my husband and I refer to as “The Peter Rabbit Room.” The room is already quite full after about 10 years of steady collecting. It has especially grown after my husband gifted me a membership to the Beatrix Potter Society a few years ago. I am currently the Secretary for the Society, having filled the role in March 2021, and having firsthand knowledge of new items on the market has made it easy to fill out my wish list.

How many books are in your collection?

At my most recent count, I have 671 different books, pamphlets, and pieces of printed ephemera, such as newsletters, exhibit programs, and performance guides.

What was the first book you bought for your collection?

Since my collection has grown over the course of my entire life, I’m not sure what the first book I purchased was. I can say the first Beatrix Potter book I received as a baby was a 1987 copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. In 1987, Penguin Books released Beatrix Potter’s works with new color reproductions that more closely matched her original first editions. These “original and authorized editions” started a 1990s renaissance of merchandising for Peter Rabbit and his character companions, which greatly assisted in the growth of my own collection, having grown up during that time.

How about the most recent book?

My most recent acquisition is a braille book compiled of four mouse-related stories from Beatrix Potter. Called Mouse Tales, it was published by the American Printing House for the Blind in 1990, with permissions from Penguin Book.

Courtesy of Lindsay Moen

A set of three special edition box sets of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

And your favorite book in your collection?

I’m sure everyone who answers this question has a hard time with it! If I had to choose, I would select a set of three special edition box sets of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Each set was released in 1993 in a limited number to mark the centenary of the writing of the original Peter Rabbit picture letter in 1893, which later inspired her story of Peter Rabbit. Each set contains a facsimile of the 1901 privately printed Tale of Peter Rabbit, a facsimile of the original picture letter, and a facsimile of a deluxe version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

These are my favorites, as they include facsimiles of the privately printed copy that we are fortunate enough to have in Iowa’s Special Collections. I am also a fan of deluxe collector’s sets, and these are particularly attractive.

Best bargain you’ve found?

I shop frequently on eBay, and sometimes sellers aren’t quite sure what they have, meaning it is common to find items either greatly over or underpriced. I was fortunate enough to purchase a 1911 Peter Rabbit’s Painting Book for the bargain of $50. This early painting book resembles a coloring book one might purchase today.

This purchase was especially exciting to me because it represents the business ingenuity that we may not often historically see in female entrepreneurs. Beatrix Potter was very interested in creating her own merchandise to accompany her publications, and through her own business sense, she was able to accrue royalties as an unmarried woman due to the success of her creations.

How about The One that Got Away?

Nothing specific comes to mind, but that may be due to losing many an online bid over the years.

What would be the Holy Grail for your collection?

Owning a first edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit would be incredible.

Who is your favorite bookseller / bookstore?

I frequently use eBay to acquire all sorts of odds and ends for my collection. However, one of my favorite avenues to fill gaps in my collection is to purchase items for sale through The Beatrix Potter Society from past members. Not only is it a great way to financially support the Society, but I feel the collecting value of the item is increased if I know the name of the past owner and that they too were members of the Society.

What would you collect if you didn’t collect books?

While my Beatrix Potter collection is by far my largest collection, as a person with the true collecting bug, I have many other smaller collections as well. I have many bottles of perfume, nail polish, and I even collect V.C. Andrews books. Fans of her works will know that their subject matter varies greatly from that of Beatrix Potter’s tales. I enjoy being surrounded by objects that bring me joy, whether at home surrounded by my many editions of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, or at work at Iowa’s Special Collections, where I help share our wonderful collection with the campus and surrounding communities.