This collection of the sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show” could be the largest in the world

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Jon Thaxton is a serious man. A fifth generation Sarasotan, he is a passionate environmentalist, a former (and formidable) Sarasota County Commissioner and now the Senior Vice President of Community Investment at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. His knowledge of the Sarasota County government, our comprehensive plan, and our history is prodigious, and anyone who asks him a question on any topic – from Florida scrub jays to affordable housing to the intricacies of zoning to the county budget process – should settle in for a long speech filled with facts.

So maybe it’s not so strange that Thaxton – who never does anything by halves – has become an expert in The Andy Griffith Show, an American sitcom that aired from 1960 to 1968. His wife Dru Greene knew he loved the show from childhood, so she gifted him a 249 episode set for Christmas about 10 years ago, just for fun. She had no idea it would turn their home upside down during the holidays once Thaxton started researching the show. He has since become a great collector of all things Mayberry, the fictional North Carolina town where the show takes place.

Thaxton laughed that he “used to be in the closet” about the collection because it’s so unusual, but the more people heard about it, especially the baby boomers who grew up looking at it, the more they asked to see her. Now he gives curious friends group tours. The collection is so big that it takes a month to put it together, so he doesn’t plan to put it together for another three years.

Posters, framed autographs, original artwork, decor accessories, a train set, canned goods, trading cards, Christmas decorations, t-shirts and even a shower curtain in the downstairs bathroom floors fill almost every corner and adorn every wall and shelf. Some of his pieces are quite valuable – Thaxton likes to say his collection is “quality and quantity” – and most of his finds come from the Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Etsy, and other collectors. A favorite piece is Opie’s “lamb” bedside lamp. His most valuable might be a single piece of paper with 15 autographs from 1963.

Thaxton has always admired the show’s values ​​of kindness, honesty, hard work, and community engagement, but says his collection is truly a product of his personality. “I have a stubborn attitude and am willing to invest the time. It’s amazing what you can do with these two traits, ”he says. And he adds that it’s a good thing that he limits his interests. “I can’t let this go,” he laughs.


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