By Andy Shain / www.postandcourier.com
COLUMBIA — It’s time to rock at the University of South Carolina.
A Folly Beach couple, John and Margaret Downs, has donated 400 pieces of memorabilia from Kiss, including instruments played by the band and original artwork from guitarist Paul Stanley, to the state’s largest college.
The collection, appraised at $302,960, will become part of the library’s 20th and 21st century popular music holdings, a university attorney told trustees Tuesday. It’s the school’s first major rock ‘n’ roll acquisition.
USC’s board approved accepting the gift, though one trustee asked about costs to insure the memorabilia and to build protective cases.
John Downs had already donated a bass guitar from Kiss leader Gene Simmons to the Smithsonian. When he and his wife downsized their home, Downs wanted to find a spot for his collection.
“You open a door to a closet and there were 20 basses in their cases,” he said.
Downs said his Kiss memorabilia donation was inspired by a Post and Courier report about USC accepting 180,000 comics and books from a collector in Ohio valued at $2.5 million that included first editions and first appearances from the Avengers, Justice League, X-Men, Iron Man, Spider-Man and the Hulk.
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