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Maybe it’s an addiction, perhaps just an obsession. But I don’t care. I am a collector and proud of it. I have collected shoes, earrings, post cards, plastic promotional toys and signed copies of first edition books. So in a heartbeat, I’m at home in the office of Jennifer Altman, a shareholder at Miami law firm Zack Kosnitzky. Her office is packed with a wide and wild assortment of plush toys, mugs and even vipers — plastic, printed, stuffed or otherwise. (“Viper” is a nickname bestowed on Altman, a commercial litigation and business torts lawyer, by victorious clients.) “My office is a really personal space,” says Altman, as she guides me on a tour of her various collections. But what really catches the eye are the snow globes, scores of them, everywhere in her crowded office. The Tazmanian Devil snarls from one corner. Betty Boop flirts under glass from another. A Merlin-like wizard with dragons sits in a globe on the edge of a small table, and the pope in a glass globe — straight from Rome — presides over a shelf. Each globe has a story, and every item in the collection was a gift from a client, colleague or friend. For instance, the stunning Neptune globe — a frothy pastel mix of fantasy, myth and recorded music — was a gift from uber lobbyist Ron Book, a fellow attorney who has given Altman a total of five elaborate globes. Others are from her law partners Stephen Zack and Michael Kosnitzky. A pair of matching Hawaiian snow globes are from a client and his wife, who, while traveling on vacation, each — without consulting the other — purchased the same tropical scene for Altman. She has them all. “When you look at them, you remember the person who gave them to you,” says Altman. She points to a golden angel in a snow globe, a gift from Pat Conrad, who sits with Altman on the board of the Children’s Home Society. Her collection started with a puzzling gift from her mother, an inexpensive globe featuring the Washington Redskins football team. “When my mom passed away, I brought it to my office,” says Altman. Shortly thereafter, friends and associates began giving her snow globes as presents. “I look around my office and I’m reminded of how lucky I am all the time,” says Altman. But clearly, she needs a bigger office. Steven Peretz of Hollywood, Fla., a partner with the law firm Kluger Peretz Kaplan & Berlin, has a large office in royal green, with an elaborate decor and two maps under glass. Peretz collects antique maps of Florida, some dating back to 1584 and worth thousands of dollars. “I have just always been fascinated with different kinds of maps,” says Peretz, noting that the early maps offer a unique mix of art, science and history. His maps trace Florida’s history as the state shifted from Spanish to British, back to Spanish, and then to U.S. control. Some are comical. For example, one French map from the U.S. colonial era depicts French Louisiana as 95 percent of North America, while Florida and the rest of the British colonies are squeezed into the remaining 5 percent. Peretz began collecting maps of Florida about 15 years ago and now owns about two dozen antique maps, excluding a $4,000 map purchased from a dealer in Chicago. That one never made it to his collection because it was lost by a shipping company. Although it was insured, Peretz still mourns the loss. “The world is a little less rich for having lost that map,” he says. “That was a cultural loss, not a monetary loss.” Culture is a French cuff for Mel Rubin, an attorney and mediator who has 738 pairs of cuff links. His vast collection ranges from tacky to tasteful, and nearly everything in between. From India, Africa and all over the world, he has cuff links made from carved wood, ivory, mink and embroidered fabric. Others are plastic, clay or tin. One pair winds up to play “Stardust,” and a Bugs Bunny set serves as a discreet watch. “Everyone thinks I’m fixing my cuffs, but I’m checking my time,” Rubin explains. He stashes his collection on several wooden trays and has something for everyone. For a writer like me, he produces cuff links made from old-style black typewriter keys – a different letter on each sleeve. For Daily Business Review photographer Aixa Montero-Green, he flashes a set fashioned from old camera nobs — circa 1970s. Although he is now a grandfather, or “zaide” in Yiddish, Rubin clearly recalls when he received his first pair of cuff links during his teen years from his Uncle Ben — a New York radio announcer who was a real European-style bon vivant. As a young parent, he shared his cuff link collection with his children, and now his granddaughters love to mix it all up as he grits his teeth and smiles. “They absolutely love it,” he says, adding that as soon as the little girls walk in the door they ask: “Can we see Zaide’s cufflinks?” They dress his sleeves in various sets, ranging from the yellow teddy bears to flashy gems. I can really relate to their attraction to trinkets, for I have developed a midlife infatuation for pearls, rubies and emeralds. And under the delusion of hidden wealth, and with a little help from my parents, I have begun to collect a few pieces of fine jewelry. (Thank God for lay-away plans.) But the real gems in my life are family, friends and co-workers. I just like people and, to be honest that’s what I really collect these days. I hoard their stories, memoirs and insights. I just love that stuff.

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