Marvin Goldman’s apartment is ready to burst.
Every nook, closet and shelf in the New York City residence is filled with relics from El Al Airlines – the national carrier of Israel.
“It’s tight, that’s the big challenge,” says Goldman, a former international lawyer whose passion has led to him becoming the airline’s unofficial historian.
El Al was founded in the same year as the nation of Israel – 1948 – when Goldman, now in his 70s, was still a boy.
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Later he started traveling to Israel on business and by the late 1970s he was flying there almost every year.
With more than 40,000 items in his apartment, he’s the owner of the world’s largest collection of El Al memorabilia, according to the airline.
Goldman says that through his travels he started collecting airline postcards and ultimately joined the World Airline Historical Society.
His interest in El Al came about partly due to the fact that in the aviation collector community, El Al memorabilia was the hardest to come by.
“I liked it because it was quite a challenge,” he tells CNN over the phone from New York.
Saving history from ‘thrower-outers’
“I think the world can be divided into two types of people,” he says.
“Those who are collectors, and those who like to throw things out.”
Goldman clearly falls into the former of the two camps.
He says there are documents inside his apartment that even El Al no longer possesses.
Over the years, he developed his collection by attending airline conventions, working with other collectors and by befriending current and retired El Al staff, many of whom often sent him duplicates of newly released collectables.
“I was able to save many historical items from the hands of the thrower-outers,” he says.
His favorite things
Some of his favorite items include one of the first ever captain’s hat badges, which was used when the airline started flying in 1949.
“They were only used for one year and are very rare,” he says.
He also has an inflight safety card that was printed in four languages: English, French, Hebrew and Yiddish.
“I believe it’s the only inflight safety card that contains Yiddish,” he adds.
One item he still dreams about acquiring is one of the original airline posters, designed by noted Israel graphic designer Franz Kraus.
“I only know of two in existence in the world. One is at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the other is owned by a fellow El Al collector in Geneva. I haven’t been able to find another one.”
Currently, Goldman is dedicated to digitizing his collection.
“These days, computerization of a collection is extremely important.
“I now have tens of thousands of images of different items and I share them with other institutions.
“You never know what will happen to hard items, but at least this way I get to spread them out for many people to enjoy.”