(1918-1999) was an American West Coast artist, but he also received recognition as a collector of potato mashers.
He told a UPI reporter in 1984 that he started his collection not because of any special connection to potato mashers, but simply because he wanted to have a "unique collection." But he gave a more detailed explanation of the origin of his hobby in an interview with Wesley Joost and Jon Randall
One of my skills is cooking so I had a normal interest in potato mashers as a tool. Every one was different in some way, and they were all designed by someone who had a different idea about what was the best way to arrange the wire striking face and wooden handle. That intrigued me. When I was furnishing the guest house I frequented the markets and Salvation Army. Nearly all of them would have some kitchen gear. I was attracted to them because they were all beautifully functional and simple and never had been standardized like the Dover Eggbeater.
Randall also admitted that he didn't like potatoes themselves — just the mashers.
As of 1984, he had collected 384 mashers. I don't know how many he owned by the time he died. But he claimed that this was the biggest collection of potato mashers in the world.
The Idaho Potato Museum
also has a large potato masher collection, which they acquired as a result of a Boy Scout's Eagle Project. So I emailed them to ask how big their collection is. A representative (Tish Dahmen) responded that they have "280 mashers on display then another box full."
She reckons that Randall's collection was larger, and unfortunately she has no idea what became of his mashers. But she added: "if you discover its whereabouts, please know that we’d be happy to house and exhibit it if his family or estate wants to donate to us … we will be happy to accept it!"
Finding a permanent home for a potato masher collection seems like a worthy project, so I'm working on it. There was once a Byron Randall Museum in Tomales, CA, where Randall lived and ran a bed-and-breakfast. Perhaps the museum acquired his collection. However, the museum doesn't have a website. So I don't know if it's still in existence.
I've contacted the Tomales Regional History Center
to ask if they know where Randall's potato mashers are.
Idaho Potato Museum Masher Collection — via California or Bust!
Milwaukee Sentinel - May 4, 1984
The Pittsburgh Press - May 3, 1984