The musician is believed to own the largest private collection of Alamo-related items, and at a press conference outside the shrine, he joked that he amassed it by spending “all the money that I made from music.”
“Some people would buy Ferraris. Some people would buy houses. I bought old bits of metal and old bits of paper,” Collins said. “It’s at my home, in my basement in Switzerland. I look at it every day, but no one else was enjoying it.”
Among the items in Collins’ collection are a rifle and leather shot pouch owned by Davy Crockett, as well as a pair of powder horns the folk hero supposedly gave to a a Mexican officer before his death. Collins said that his favorite item was a receipt for a saddle bought by John W. Smith, a messenger who rode through Mexican lines in hopes of securing reinforcements.
“I’ve had a love affair with this place since I was about 5 years old,” Collins said, noting his fascination with the famous battle where 1,500 Mexican troops laid siege to 200 Texans began with the Disney miniseries Davy Crockett. “It was something that I used to go and play in the garden with my soldiers.”
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Collins will pay to have the items shipped to San Antonio, and while some of them will be on display as soon as October, a new building to house much of the collection will be constructed in the near future. The musician also promised to keep collecting, adding “once I’ve lived with whatever I buy for a month, I’ll ship it over here.”
Back in 2012, Collins even authored a book about his fascination with the Alamo, The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector’s Journey, and during an interview with Rolling Stone spoke about the aforementioned saddle receipt and the genesis of his massive collection: “At one point in the 1980s, I was in Washington and I found a shop called the Gallery of History. They had a Crockett letter in there, which I came across by accident. It was too expensive for my pocket. I’ve outspent that many times over since, but at the time I was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that existed, but it’s too expensive.’ But my third wife gave me a Christmas present that was a receipt for a saddle by one of the Alamo couriers. Once I had something to hang on the wall, then I started to look for other things to hang on the wall.”