Annals of (possible) libfixes: -abelia

In the April 20th New Yorker, a fascinating story of a lost, and eventually found, Tlingit totem pole, in the Our Far-Flung Correspondents category: “The Tallest Trophy: A movie star made off with an Alaskan totem pole. Would it ever return home?” by Paige Williams.

In the midst of this, a portmanteau, Barrymoreabelia, combining Barrymore [John Barrymore, the actor in question] and memorabilia: ‘Barrymore memorabilia’. I suspect that the element -abelia has been “liberated” as an affix of its own — a libfix — but this is very hard to test, given the existence of a plant, the flowering shrub abelia (which I’d been meaning to post about, but this isn’t the occasion).

Some background from Williams’s piece:

Southeastern Alaska contains hundreds of islands cut by a vast network of channels and fjords. The biggest island, Prince of Wales, had the most totem poles, and the village with the greatest number was [the Tlingit village] Tuxecan. In 1916, a researcher counted a hundred and twenty-five poles there, and described them as strikingly elaborate and diverse in their imagery.

… One particularly regal pole loomed over the southeastern corner of a large house on the beach. Nearly thirty feet tall, it had three crests. The topmost figure was a bird with folded wings. Below it was a human, which held a large finned sea creature at the base of its tail. The bottom crest was a fierce, furry animal — a bear or a wolf — sitting high on its haunches. One day, in the nineteen-thirties, the totem pole went missing. All that remained was a sawed stump.

A photo of the pole:

Caption: John Barrymore, left, joked that “tribal gods” might “wreak vengeance on the thief.”

Partway through the story comes this quote from John Blyth Barrymore:]

My grandfather was quite a collector. Upon my grandmother’s death in March of 1979, my father, John Barrymore, and I began to enjoy a greatly improved standard of living supported by selling off the Barrymoreabelia we had pirated from her estate

followed by this comment from Williams:

The totem pole survived the Barrymoreabelia diaspora, at least temporarily.

Michael Quinion’s affixes site has one related entry, for –ana, discussed in a posting of mine from 1/17/11. More exactly, -(i)ana ‘things associated with a person, place, or field of interest’ (as in Shakespeariana). But the site has no entry (at the moment) for –abilia or –bilia.

[Later news on the –abilia front, on ADS-L on 7/25/16 (highlighting mine):

From George A. Thompson:

From a story on off-the-beaten-path collecting, on the front page of the Arts section of today’s NYTimes:

“It started out innocently enough with a plastic banana in a Ziploc bag on the door of my apartment when I was in college,’’ wrote Scott McCarney of Rochester. “Before I knew it I was publishing a newsletter and collecting bananabilia.”

And from Larry Horn:

International Banana Museum, Mecca, CA:

“The Banana Museum puts a smile on peoples’ faces every time,” says founder Ken Bannister. Since the early ’70s, he’s gone bananas for the tropical fruit, amassing more than 18,000 items of bananabilia, from a banana-shaped putter to a seven-foot-tall banana popular for photo ops. He sold the world’s largest collection of a single fruit to a new owner in 2010—the equally enthusiastic Fred Garbutt—who serves banana smoothies and dresses in banana-themed clothing at the newly installed nonalcoholic bar within the museum.

Haven’t yet seen an example in –ibilia (like the actual word sensibilia), but there might be some inventions out there.]

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