We’ve long known our friend Horst Spandler had amassed one of the greatest collections of international On the Road editions in the entire world. (And who would know better than us?) We showcased his magnificent collection back in 2011, when Horst offered to loan us his books for an exhibition called “On the Road Around the World” It was such a rousing success, we extended it from an original run of 6 months to 18 months, and we were grateful to Horst for allowing us to put his collection on public display for the first time.
Earlier this year, Horst contacted us once again to let us know he wanted to donate his original collection from a decade ago, along with another 30 additional copies he had acquired since then. All we needed to do was raise the $1,000 to cover the cost of shipping from Germany to San Francisco. With the generous support of the people on this mailing list, we were able to raise the funds, and on April 26, 2023, four separate boxes left Germany bound for San Francisco.
The books were packed inside their original protective metal containers Horst had used to ship them a decade earlier. They were then placed inside cardboard boxes, along with protective shipping material. There were four boxes in 2023, versus the three sent in 2010, and once again they needed to go through US Customs inspectors before they arrived on our doorstep. We expected there would be a little more scrutiny this time, because they were being donated as opposed to being loaned.
At first, it looked like everything was going to go swimmingly. The first three boxes arrived separately, on May 8, May 15, and May 18. We were awaiting the arrival of the fourth box, eager to report to all of you the success of our mission.
But by the end of May we still had not received the fourth box. We started making inquiries with the carrier, DHL, but they insisted an investigation needed to be initiated from the German side, not the San Francisco recipient. That’s when we asked Horst and his family to get involved, but even then they were delays.
June came and went, and I will admit we were starting to get concerned. Being the proud new custodian of one of the greatest collections of On the Road books in the world would be marred by tragedy if somehow one quarter of it was lost in transit.
In July, with the help of more people in Germany, DHL‘s investigation went to another level, and thank goodness—they were able to locate a box that had been damaged prior to leaving Germany, and apparently got misplaced in a corner awaiting repair for over two months!
Much to our relief, the fourth box arrived at The Beat Museum on July 24, 2023, and although the cardboard exterior seemed to indicate the journey wasn’t exactly a gentle one, the internal metal case containing the books was intact.
All’s well that ends well, and we’re extremely pleased to be able to update you about this happy resolution. Look for the Horst Spandler Collection on exhibit at The Beat Museum this fall of 2023.