Professor emeritus Perry collector of antiquities, artifacts
As a child, John Perry collected rocks and stamps.
Now he has more antiquities and artifacts than he could possibly count.
From luristan bronzes to Egyptian canopic jars, Perry is a passionate collector and educated historian.
“It keeps one young and active,” he said of his interest. “I feel that I am still growing everyday. I’m constantly learning and growing and developing. I’m a very passionate man about these things. It’s great for health and it is absolutely productive for society.”
Professor emeritus at Lake Tahoe Community College, Perry started a foundation in 1984, designed to encourage the study of history and humanities. He donates his collectibles to the foundation so the scholastic community, as well as the general public, have the opportunity to appreciate their splendor.
“I’ve learned there is a great satisfaction in buying and giving, so I give to the Perry Foundation,” said Perry, who taught the first class at Lake Tahoe Community College in 1975. “I buy largely at New York auctions so the things are already legitimate in the country, or through estate sales that have internationally published photographic catalogs.”
Perry said he started the foundation as a means of sharing his passion and knowledge with the public.
“I think these things belong in the public trust,” he said, referring to the foundation display set up at Lake Tahoe Community College. “Antiquities should be put in a perspective such as this and used for view by the general public.”
Collecting is serious business for Perry, who said he has many modern pieces in addition to antiquities.
“This is a huge part of my life,” he said. “I travel all over trying to keep current with the things that interest me. I adore shopping for artifacts and art. I partially retired so I would have more time for this.”
In addition to an extensive academic career, Perry said he gained much of his knowledge through his travels.
“I’ve studied in more than 70 countries, partly courtesy of Uncle Sam and the United States Navy, but that was only 20 countries. The other 50 I did on my own.”
A fourth century B.C. ceramic wine pitcher from Southern Italy, a 16th century B.C. luristan bronze spear from Iran and an Art Nouveu Dragonfly vase from late-19th century France are just three pieces in Perry’s enormous collection of art and antiquities.
“I have some early arrow points that go back to 14,000 B.C.,” Perry said. “The oldest piece shown in the exhibit (at LTCC) is 6,000 years old.”
Perry said he is dedicated to the foundation and to the community college.
“Teaching and sharing something you love with people is a real joy,” he said. “If it can’t be that, frankly, I don’t want to play the game.
“It’s a terrible thing to waste an opportunity to use knowledge and as long as I am capable, I feel I must go on making a contribution. Certainly there is an obligation to society and I try to give back.”
Perry said his active involvements at the college and in the foundation keep him mentally alert.
“The more you teach it, the more you learn,” he said. “If I weren’t teaching and building collections this would be a much different life for me. I think it keeps me healthy.”
The public is invited to view the Perry Collections at Lake Tahoe Community College in rooms B103 and 105. Appointments are encouraged. Call (530) 541-4660.
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