Rupert M. Barkoff, chairman of the
franchise team at Kilpatrick Townsend &
Stockton, could probably set up his own
franchise, since he owns roughly 6,000
cigarette cards and 550 snow globes. But
he didn’t set out to collect either.
The cigarette card collection began in
1982 as an inheritance from his mother.
He was drawn in by their rarity and their
beauty. “They’re breathtaking,” he says.
Originally made to keep a pack of smokes
from crumpling, collectible cigarette cards
were especially popular in the 1930s.
They came in sets of as many as 100, and
included themes such as flowers, animals,
modes of transportation and kings of
England. “Just name it,” says Barkoff.
“You rarely see them over here in the
The collection of snow globes,
United States,” he adds. “Occasionally I’ll
see a mounted collection somewhere. In
England you don’t see them that much,
but they’re much more common than they
are over here.”
Since ’ 82, he’s more than doubled his
mom’s collection, to create what’s become “a
family heirloom” that is carefully catalogued
in albums at home. The one set on display in
his Atlanta office features 25 airplanes.
meanwhile, began as a competition.
“I had an associate who had picked up
a couple [snow globes] for his then-young
child. I picked up a couple, and it started a
nuclear arms race. … It became a level of
fanaticism for me.”
RUPERT M. BARKOFF IS AN INTROVERT BY NATURE, BUT WHEN HE’S PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING HE GOES ALL IN
BY JESSICA TAM
Barkoff travels a lot for business, and snow
globes can be found in almost every airport
shop around the world. For a long time, he
owned globes from 49 states. “But I couldn’t
get to North Dakota,” he says. Then, thanks
to a contact with the North Dakota Securities
Commissioner’s Office where Barkoff knew
one employee who handled franchise
registration work, he received the prized
North Dakota globe in the mail.
He also owns snow globes from 25
countries. None of Barkoff’s snow globes
were purchased on the Internet. That
would be cheating. But he adds, “One of
the problems if you do it yourself is you
can’t carry them on an airplane because
of the fluid. You can only bring them if you
check luggage or buy them after going
through security.” He’s now purchasing
them for his 10-year-old grandchild.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Barkoff
Not bad for a self-described shy person.
was fanatical about commercial aviation as
a child—hence the specific cigarette cards
in his office. “I knew every flight that was
coming into the New Orleans airport,” he
says. “I knew every type of plane of all the
While he got his start in franchise law
representing franchisee associations for
such chains as Kentucky Fried Chicken and
Jiffy Lube, today the majority of Barkoff’s
practice is dedicated to a multitude of
franchisors, including Pool Werx, Waffle
House and River Street Sweets. He also
law, and teaches the subject as an adjunct
professor at University of Georgia School of
Law. In 2010, he received the ABA Forum
on Franchising’s Lewis G. Rudnick Award
for lifetime achievement. It had been
awarded only once before.
“I’m an introvert by nature,” he says,
“but when I get passionate about
something, like cards or my legal practice,
I can overcome my ability to be a person
that likes to sit in his shell.”
So are there any other missing links in
his snow-globe collection? It turns out, a
big one: China.
“I was there about three years ago and
Barkoff’s collection of cigarette cards
I must have looked in 50 or 70 places
and didn’t find any,” he says. “You’d think
China would have thousands there—and
it’s ironic, since many are made there—so
it’s a notable gap.”
The chase continues.
began in 1982; he now owns roughly
6,000. “They’re breathtaking,” he says.