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Collector’s corner: Correspondence fit for a queen

By Jef Rietsma

Collector? Marilyn Jones

Collection? Queen Elizabeth II

How did your collection begin? “I’ve always been interested in her because we were born the same year, just a month apart. When I was a little girl, when we’d go to the movies, they would show (before the feature) ‘Eyes and Ears of the World.’ That’s where you’d get your news and usually there something featured about the little princess, and I was always very interested in her.”

Jones said she sent a congratulatory card in 1977 to the queen on occasion of her silver anniversary to the throne. Jones was surprised to receive a personalized response from the queen’s lady-in-waiting. This catapulted Jones’ interest in the queen and she soon began collecting items related to the queen. Jones followed up her silver anniversary letter with cards of congratulations for the queen’s golden, diamond and most-recent platinum jubilees. Again, every correspondence was acknowledged through the queen’s lady-in-waiting.

You’ve offered congratulations to the queen on other milestones, haven’t you? “When she became a great-grandmother, after Prince George was born, I looked for a great-grandparent card, and they’re not easy to find.”

Jones said her correspondence was acknowledged by the queen’s lady-in-waiting. Jones said she is impressed the replies are not form letters, but typewritten letters and the handwritten signature of the lady-in-waiting.

In all, Jones has six letters in response, authored by the queen’s lady-in-waiting.

What item in your collection means the most to you? “It’s certainly not a very large collection but the letters are all very special to me. They’re personalized and probably as close to royalty as I’ll ever get.”

What’s the most you paid for an item? “I subscribe to the magazine Majesty, which is put together by People magazine. It is all about royal subjects not just in England but elsewhere, too. Anyhow, there are forms at the back of the magazine where you can buy different things, and I enjoy purchasing items on occasion. I purchased a commemorative plate for her silver anniversary and years ago I purchased a decorative mug, I guess you could call it a drinking vessel, featuring a Charles and Diana with their newborn son. I think they were about $10.”

What else is in your collection? “I have quite a few books and magazines, coloring books, a miniature figurine statue, quite a few photographs, salt-and-pepper shakers and a four-piece set of wind-up figures (featuring the queen, Prince Phillip, son Charles and daughter-in-law Diana). But the letters are far and away the most unique items and they mean the most to me. It was such a thrill to open the mailbox and see a piece of mail so colorful with such interesting stamps.”

Have you ever visited England? “I have not. I would love to but I have not. That and having tea with the queen are the last two items on my bucket list. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that it will never happen.”

Your respect for the queen is obvious. “Well, we went through WWII at the same time, she got married about the same time I did, she had Charles and I had Larry, she had a daughter the same time I had a daughter … just so many parallels we share. And now we both use a cane. But if we lived near each other, I feel like we would be good friends. I think we would visit often and get along very well.”

Footnotes: Jones, 96, is a Schoolcraft resident. Her collection was showcased at the Schoolcraft Library during the month of June. Her poetry appears in the South County News.

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