Howard and Linda Knohl are among the world’s leading collectors of art, antiques and exquisite novelties, and their story is as captivating and inspiring as the masterpieces that fill the halls and walls of Fox Pointe Manor; the name of their home in Anaheim Hills, California.
The Knohl’s were both born and raised in New York City during the end of the Great Depression. Their lower middle class families struggled to survive during these challenging years. It was this struggle that impressed upon them the importance of family, responsibility and hard work. They learned that friendship and humor would always enable them to get through any and all forms of adversity.
Although both shared similar childhood experiences, it wasn’t until 1960, while Howard was studying at New York Medical College that he met and fell in love with Linda. She was enrolled at Brooklyn College, where Howard had recently graduated. Less than one year later, penniless but hopelessly in love, they married and moved into their one room apartment in Brooklyn. Six years and two children later, the couple experienced sudden upheaval; Howard was drafted and the family was sent to El Paso, Texas. In the ensuing year their strength was severely tested. Howard was sent to serve in Vietnam while Linda remained with the children in El Paso, alone and without the support of friends and family.
When Howard returned from Vietnam the couple decided rather than return to their native New York City they would relocate their family and begin a new life in California. They arrived in Southern California in 1969 and following a brief stay in a condo, the Knohl’s purchased their first home in Los Alamitos. It was here that they expanded their family again, adding two more children to the mix. Dr. Knohl began to establish himself as a leading radiologist while Linda worked as an interior designer. With fewer financial constraints, the family was able to enjoy some of the things they had not been able to experience previously. Cultural expressions such as music, theater, and travel now became an important part of their life. While traveling abroad they spent time in concert halls and museums, and began to appreciate art and the history of civilization.
The first interest in collecting art began to surface in the mid-1970s when they purchased the first pieces of their current collection. Most of the early acquisitions were very small and included a combination of lithos, stone cuts and wood cuts by artists popular in the mid-20th century. A passion for collecting was born!
In the fall of 1976 the Knohl’s built their current home, and for years the only thing that graced the walls was love and more love. Through the years the size of the home grew to its current level of over 11,000 square feet, with most ceilings reaching between 20-30 feet in height. The walls stood empty until the mid-1980s when Howard and Linda began to collect art and books with historical value. Eventually they limited their book collection to English language first editions printed before the year 1700, and over time this collection has grown to become one of the largest privately owned collections in the world, comprising of more than 4,000 titles. Their art collection focused on paintings from the 14th through the 19th centuries, with themes mostly generated by historical events. In an attempt to integrate the collections, they began to select paintings that depicted themes and scenes from the books already included in their book collection.
Clocks of historical value from all over Europe and the United States were added in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In time the collection expanded to include germane ivory and bronze pieces. In the mid-1990’s matchsafes became a central focus of their collection, both for the historical value as well as in appreciation of their beauty. These pieces, almost unknown today, were utilized ubiquitously around the world to hold and strike matches for smoking purposes. This collection, with more than 21,000 pieces, is currently the largest known accumulation of matchsafes existing in the world.
In the last ten years the Knohl’s have added several exquisite areas of art forms, including cobalt demitasse sets from the 17th through the 19th centuries and walking canes from around the world. The canes include those that are used for dress purposes as well as others that have more important uses. Most recently cheroot cases and yads were added to the collection.
Recently, the focus has been to create a collection of integrated art forms which are historically related. In the past three years the Knohl’s have added over 40,000 pieces of large format sheet music, including 5,000 pieces of “Black Music” performed by African American artists during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to the intrinsic artistic value of the music itself, each piece is enhanced by covers which are unique works of art in their own right and have proven to be wonderful additions to the permanent Knohl collection.
No one knows what will capture the Knohl’s attention next; but what is certain is that their first public exhibition, THE QUEEN’S GALLERY, a comprehensive collection of over 60 paintings by leading artists of the Victorian Era and more than 400 personal and decorative objects from the British Empire, will provide a wonderful glimpse into the Knohl’s extensive private collection.