In The Wrath of Kahn (TWOK), there are at least 2 references to Kirk's fondness for antiques. Spock states that he's aware of this fondness when he gives him an old edition of A Tale of Two Cities; McCoy tells him to get away from his antiques and get his command back, and I think there's a reference to this as well when McCoy gives Kirk his reading glasses (along with a reference to Kirk's medication allergy).

I grew up watching the original series (some during the original run and all, many times, in reruns) and had seen all of the animated series when TWOK came out — and had endured Star Trek: The Motion Picture several times as well. I remember when I was watching TWOK in the movie theater for the first time being "jarred" by the lines about antiques. While it was not out of place, I don't remember any reference to such an interest in any preceding Trek at that time.

It's quite believable that, as he aged, and was no longer on a ship, that Kirk had time on his hands and needed a hobby or to become drawn to out-of-date objects — since he may have felt past his usefulness, so it's not that such a reference is wrong or out of place. But I have long wondered if I missed something along the way.

Excluding books (which the producers rarely counted as canon), was this interest of Kirk's ever mentioned before TWOK? And, as long as I'm asking, was it in any of the very few Trek books that had been published before TWOK either?


2 Answers 2


According to a de Forest Research memo for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan from October 14, 1981:

Kirk has NEVER collected antiques. Perhaps a line might be planted that he has developed a new interest. (One of the problems with the Kirk character is that he was never consistently written. He was always what the writers needed THAT week.)

The quote was found here. The poster said:

UCLA has many of [de Forest's] memos from the original series in the Roddenberry papers. The one from TWOK is in the Nick Meyer papers at the University of Iowa.

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    Think this clearly fits into the pattern. Also, if you compare several episodes and movies there are lots of different levels of "knowledge" regarding the past. For example, in Spectre of the Gun Spock and Kirk are immediately able to judge the surroundings to resemble 1880's wild west, including details about history. They act in a similar way in other episodes essentially showcasing alternate realities (knowledge about 1930's mafia stuff or the Nazi regime). On the other hand, they've got lots of issues in The Voyage Home, where they at once forgot about money and other things.
    – Mario
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 10:59
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    I would add that taking rare and valuable antiques on board a starship in the rough-and-tumble 23rd century is not such a bright idea. (The 24th is different: Picard's Enterprise takes children on board - clearly it is considered less dangerous.) Once on a starbase, Kirk could safely collect them. Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 9:45
  • I don't know why I didn't check this as the answer when you first posted it, but I did it now. Apologies for the oversight.
    – Tango
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 16:42
  • I prefer the work of Shatner de Willum to that of Kellam de Forest. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 19:33

It's notable that Tale of Two Cities is literature, not simply an antique. References to Kirk's interest in literature comes up several times. Examples: In "Where No Man Has Gone Before," Gary tells Kirk he's had time in sickbay to read some of the "long-haired" stuff that his friend had been recommending. In "The Ultimate Computer," Kirk quotes John Masefield: "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by" (http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/John_Masefield). In "Space Seed" Kirk and Khan briefly chat about Milton, and Kirk even quotes from Paradise Lost."

This may partially explain the nature of that particular antique.

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