Patricia Munn of Southampton wants to get the lead out — specifically, more than 10,000 lead miniature soldiers bequeathed to her by her late husband, Orson. On Monday’s episode of Fox Business Network’s “Strange Inheritance,” at 9 p.m., she and her children, Linda and Orson III, grapple with how to honor Orson’s wishes for a collection worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“They really want to fulfill his dream of building this toy-soldier museum,” says Fox News correspondent Jamie Colby, host of the show, now in its second season, that looks at how families handle heirlooms passed along after death. “They want to do it in Southampton, where he was a community leader and served as a town trustee” from 1967 to 1986. “But they were told it would take $10 million.”
“It’s a matter of finding a place large enough to display them and having a curator for the collection,” explains Munn, 87. Lead toy soldiers date to the 19th century and often contain extraordinarily precise details of uniforms and arms, and are quite valuable collectors’ items.
“He started collecting at about 5 years old and hand-painted a lot of them,” Munn, 87, says of her husband, an investment banker whose great-grandfather founded Scientific American magazine. He continued collecting up until his death in 2011 at age 86.
Munn came to the show’s attention, Colby says, when the host was “having dinner with my mom . . . and the people at the next table were folks she knew. They were renting a house in Southampton and told us the people who owned it had this large collection of toy soldiers. I was fascinated. I gave them my email address, and that night I got an email from Pat. It was very articulate and specific and had enough information that I sent it to our story development folks, and the facts checked out.”
The episode was shot in Southampton in June. And until the fate of the collection is resolved, the Munns will soldier on.