The Psychology of Collecting

From time to time I ask what you’d like me to write about. That’s how the whole investment series came into being: I had so many requests, I gave in. I hadn’t done a lot on investing before because EVERYONE ELSE does investing.

Recently I had a request to do a piece on the psychology of collecting. I’ve been a collector myself: stamps when I was small, books, hippos, house-plants. The idea intrigued me… I love writing about new things and I hadn’t thought about this before, so I set to doing some research to see what’s what.

People have been collecting all sorts of things forEVER, from precious stones to baseball cards. There are even names for collectors: lepidopterists collect butterflies; philatelists collect stamps; arctophiles collect teddy bears. I once new a couple who topped their wet-bar with matchbooks from all the restaurants they had been to. Some people collect stuff that seems quite odd to other folks. A guy named Graham Barker has the world’s largest collection of navel fluff. And if you’re into moist towelettes, Michael Lewis is your man.

While most people collect the “normal” stuff like hockey cards or coins, people can make almost anything into a collection: empty perfume bottles, salt and pepper shakers, old postcards. I new a girl who never threw away a rubber band: she kept adding them to her ball. I know another who did the same with her tinfoil. When it got too big to handle, she’d start another one.

So why this compulsion to collect? And how far will we go to extend or complete a collection?

Some people like the hunt. When I collected hippos, half the fun was finding one I didn’t yet have that fit with the type of hippos I collected (whimsical hippos). Some psychologists suppose that people are trying to fill a void, create a sense of self. Some collectors get a real thrill out of arranging and rearranging their collections. And some folks get really excited when they come close to completing a collection.

Freud believed we collect to make up for our sense of loss over watching our poopies go bye-bye. Hey, Freud had an obsession with poop. And one does have to scratch one’s head when some people take “collecting” to the extreme we’ve seen on those “hoarder” TV shows.

Since collecting is often most associated with positive emotions – the pleasure of adding a new treasure, the excitement of seeking an addition to the collection – some people can take their collecting to an extreme, even putting themselves at financial risk (never mind all the dusting required) in order to get another pleasure jolt.

Some people collect to learn: they use their stamps, their coins, or whatever history pieces they are focused on to learn more about something they’ve very interested in: geography, flowers, a specific period of time. Some people collect to say (in a sing-song voice), “mine’s bigger than yours.” Some people collect because they’ve been convinced by smart marketers that their “collections” will be worth big money one day. Remember Beanie Babies? How about Precious Moments? And some folks collect because the very act brings order and predictability to their world. Their collections make them feel safe because no matter how out of control the rest of the world is, at home among their collection, they’re in charge.

Sometimes we outgrow our collections. Sometimes we carry our collections around with us long after we’ve stopped acquiring new piece because we invested so much time, effort and money in the collection. And sometimes we divest: we let go of the stuff because we realize that actually doesn’t mean what we thought it did. But sometimes out collections have such memories attached that we hold tight to them, using them to bring us a sense of continuity.

I started Alex on a collection musical boxes and snow globes when she was a babe. I’d give her a new one for each birthday and Christmas. The early ones broke quickly because I never admonished her for playing with them and, well, things break. But she still has quite a few of them. I was surprised when I went to visit her at university to see one of the musical snowglobes a friend of mine had given her on her desk. She wound it up for me. A little bit of home.

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Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Gail Vaz-Oxlade wants YOU! Join MyMoneyMyChoices.com to get smarter about your money and help others get smarter about theirs. Isn’t it time we eliminated financial illiteracy? Come find me on Google+ and on Twitter.

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56 Responses to “The Psychology of Collecting”

  1. I think it must be the thrill of the hunt for me. I collect old 50s 60s vintage pyrex. I use the stuff too – it doesn’t sit on a shelf gathering dust. It’s my excuse to get out to garage sales, and church rummage sale and experience the thrill of finding old pyrex for $1 or $2….I died and went to pyrex heaven over the holidays with a four box lot found on Kajijji for $25 filled with old vintage pyrex with some of the pieces selling on ebay for more than I paid for the whole lot…

    Now, the problem is I have too much and have to sell off some – or reno the kitchen – or buy a bigger house…lol…

  2. I suppose I collect books. Or rather, I buy them whenever I have the chance and never refuse one if someone is giving them away. Other than that, I try to collect empty space.

    I scrapbook but I used to “collect” some nice paper and just let it sit without using it. I gave that up and now only have things in my scrapbook cupboard that I use. My husband inadvertently collects socket sets. Every time they’re on sale at Canadian Tire he is convinced we don’t have one and buys one. We now have 4. Possibly 5 if there’s one in the truck.

  3. avatar Rebecca W Says:
    January 14, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I wish House Hippos actually existed……

  4. I think some people (myself included) collect as a means of introducing tradition(s) into their lives.

    I can’t say I have any massive collections, but I have made it a tradition to buy my husband a nice button-down shirt every time I go on a major international business trip. It started before our wedding (he wore one for the wedding!) and now I don’t worry about getting him something “good” while I should be working- I know I can just get him a shirt! And he gets something *useful) to commemorate this sometimes-crazy part of our lives.

  5. avatar Melaniesd Says:
    January 14, 2011 at 9:08 am

    House Hippos… Wouldn’t that be cute! Little tiny ones to take in the bath!

    I collected unicorns when I was younger. Glad that passed… The only collection I have as an adult is Baileys Irish Cream memorabilia. I only collected the “Yum!” series which were designed to be winking tea cups. Little did I know, in the USA they issued much more than we had in Canada. Thanks to Ebay I have every piece now. The little grinning faces make me smile when I look at my china cupboard.
    I also had a collection of my grandmother, and great-grandmothers teacups but I decided to only keep my favourites because I never use them and they took up too much space. Having the teacups doesn’t make me closer to them, it just gives me more to store & dust.

  6. When I was a teenager I collected unicorns. At the time it was a way of distinguishing myself from those around me – to make me feel like a unique individual. But by the time I hit my early 20’s, those unicorns meant a lot less to me. I still kept them though, till I was probably in my mid 30’s. Then one day, while decluttering my junk, I tossed them all away, and it felt great to get rid of them. It felt like having them kept me from growing up emotionally. Today I have no specific collections of anything. I have no desire to collect anything, nor do I have the extra money to throw towards collecting.

  7. I collect two things right now: magnets and Christmas ornaments. For each new city I travel to I pick up one of each. They make great conversation pieces and each has a story behind it!

  8. I collect unicorns still however there is not an overwhelming amout of them. I have one curio cabinet of them and no two are a like. 99% of these are from when I was a kid. I have added maybe two in last ten years, one from my son as a gift and the other I purchased in Las Vegas over a year ago ( just as an side note the trip didnt cost us anything- I won it from a radio station) …….greatest trip you could have.

  9. I used to collect postcards and napkins as a kid. My mom and dad both travelled all overso every where they went they sent me a card for my stash. I left the collection begind when we relocated to Canada. I had a huge duffle bag full.
    A lady I work with collects little bottles of sand. So when people go on vacations they always bring her a bit of sand. She actually has a really interesting collection.

  10. I used to collect books, but have started getting rid of them because they take up too much space. I am keeping my Stephen King books though. LOL… I also collect Christmas ornaments. I purchase at least one new one a year. This past Christmas our new ornament was from Disneyworld. So now when I put it on the tree each year I will be reminded of our wonderful trip. I think collecting is about memories and things that make us happy. If they are just taking up space then you shouldn’t be collecting them.

  11. I collect several things…. and I’ll put on my psychology hat for ya….

    1. Stamps Reminds me of stamp collecting with my brothers and going to the CNE and picking out stamps at the Hobby building. This collection I have been contemplating selling as I do not “love it”.

    2. Coins Love of history, love of the artwork, you name it. Coins generally hold their value. My favourite is tokens, which are not issued by a country but by a merchant when coins were scarce or as an advertisement. They speak to all the things I love and surround me… I work in marketing/advertising, I am creative so I love the different designs, and I love history. I don’t collect any of the new coins really (although sometimes I get them as gifts). I add to my coin collection constantly and enjoy looking through them. Feels like I’m touching history.

    3. Toby Character Mugs I started collecting them when I was very young, around 8? Sometimes, I catch myself referring to them as “my friends” …. don’t think a psychologist would have a hard time with that…. I have also steered the collection more to historical figures (abe lincoln, churchill etc). This collection I have outgrown as well, although I still occassionally receive them as gifts. I am going to search through them and get rid of the ones that I don’t “love” (which are probably a third) — as space is at a premium.

    4. Books But I reread those… so not sure if that counts really as a collection.

    5. Crafts I tell myself I use them all, but really, it’s half a collection. And it’s about the new aquisition and new toy to play with.

    6. Christmas Decorations This is an indulgance — each year I pick different colour themes or a theme and go to town. I like to buy at least 1-4 decorations during the boxing week (used to be more, but I have alot now) — one year we had a Buffalo Bills tree. The tree next year is going to be sci fi! Can’t wait.

    Of my immediate family – Oldest brother collects stamps, coins, nutcrackers, books, my middle brother collects stamps, coins, trains and my sister collects comics, toys (an amazing amount, lego, marvel, action figures, scooby doo) her house is overrun, but amazing fun – my mom collects royal doulton figurines, china plates and little doo-dads all over the place. My father collects nothing.

    I think a psychologist would have alot of fun with my family — frankly, we’re all just a little shy of hoarders.

    My bf has OCD, it’s not so much what he collects, but what he throws out — which is very little.

  12. My husband and I collect magnets for every trip we go on. Even if it’s a cross border shopping trip to the US, we have a magnet! HA HA. Our collection stands at about 30 magnets right now and takes up a good portion of our fridge so hopefully we’ll figure out some other system to display them. The fridge front just looks cluttered!

    That’s about all we collect. I’ve been watching a lot of those hoarding shows and after I finish an episode, I suddenly feel the urge to purge and I start cleaning my house. That’s how I keep the “collections” in check.

    House of Hippos would be cute! Seems to be a very popular thing to collect – I had a friend’s mom fill an entire dining room hutch with little statues of them. I loved going over to look at them after school :)

  13. I’m with Big City Beer Budget and Shelly. Whenever we somewhere special as a family we try to get a Christmas ornament to remind us every year of the trip. I wasn’t able to find one at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics but I am sure I can put something together. We also collect magnets from where we go too. It is a super cheap souvenir and the kids know they are not getting anything else :) The collection started because my grandma collected magnets, and when I would go over to her apartment I would spend hours arranging and rearranging them, playing “pacman” with one or “school” with the letters etc.

    The problem is our new fridge is not magnetic and I have this whole box of memories that I can’t display :(

  14. I’ve collected Christmas ornaments for many years, many from Europe but some from North America too. It started with wooden ones, for my feather tree, from Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia. In the last few years I’ve added glass ones from Vienna and Prague and felt ones from Budapest. I also have vintage glass ones for my tinsel table tree. The good thing about collecting Christmas ornaments is they are easy to carry home and they bring back such good memories of places visited every time you decorate for the holiday.
    I’ve also collected bears and milk glass hens on nests, but now a lot of the bears have been donated as they took up too much room and were dust magnets. I’ve kept the ones bought out of the country for now.
    I think when you collect you have to look ahead as to what will become of your collection. Only a few collections will be of value to others. An aunt of mine had over a thousand sets of salt and pepper shakers. As kids we loved to look at them.
    When she passed away in her late eighties none of her three children wanted any of them.

  15. I collected Beswick china horses when I was a kid. I loved horses and that was the closest I could come to having a horse. I saved my birthday money and my christmas money to buy them. Sometimes my parents added to my collection. I still have them in a curio cabinet in my family room. I have over 20 of them. I don’t buy them any more but I still enjoy them. My daughter is horse crazy as well so she will get them when I’m gone. She has her own small collection of Breyer horses that she plays with. The only thing I collect now are Kathy Reichs hard cover books. She comes out with a new book once a year and I enjoy reading it once the kids go back to school.

  16. I have every Nancy Drew book (including the cookbook) – before they changed her up. Some are even the old blue covered ones. Wouldn’t you know it, my 2 girls never looked at one. I often wonder what I should do with them.

  17. I was trying to think if I collect anything….And remembered that I’ve collected Easter seal stickers since I was a kid. Don’t ask me why, but I have some dating back to the early 80″s!

  18. I really liked unicorns as a kid, and somehow that got translated into that I was collecting them…. unfortunately I was actually VERY picky about which ones I actually liked. As an adult I have 2 left… a very tiny porcellain one in a soft ivory colour with big doe-like eyes, and an even smaller plastic one that reminds me of my best friend.

    I do have a “collection” of small stones. Not special except that I picked them up when somewhere special. I have a small reddish pebble from in front of the Roman Colleseum, a grey pebble from my favourite campsite on a lake not far from home, a rough chunk of marble I picked up from a walk on my honeymoon. To anyone else this small box of rocks looks worthless, to me it takes me back to these places instantly.

    Everytime I find a butterfly that has “expired” on it’s own, I bring it home and add it to a pretty mirrored box that I have. I keep them so that I can take my time really looking at the wings, they are amazing. It creeps some people out to open that box, even though they are jsut butterflies. I’m not sure it’s a collection though, because I don’t go looking for them.

    And a small box of coins from around the world. As I come across people that have “been places” I ask if they have any coins from there. If they do, I ask for one. Just to show my kids how money is similar and different all over the world…. and ’cause it’s pretty.

    Since my “collections” are in small, decorative boxes, I guess I collect boxes too LOL

  19. I buy a Christmas ornament each year for my kids of somewhere we went in the previous year, ar some significant event. This year they both got Olympic ornaments.

    Erin – I couldn’t find any ornaments either, but I found mascot charms online on the Birks website on clearance for $20. I bought photo ornaments at Michaels for $2.50 and put a picture of each of the kids at the Olympics in the ornament and then attached the charm.

  20. avatar Melaniesd Says:
    January 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Erin, you can buy magnetic paint. Perhaps make a picture collague with your magnets? You could make a ‘frame’ on the kitchen wall with mouldings and paint the inside with magentic paint. That might look really cool! OR, get a piece of metal that can be mounted.

    I guess I do collect more than I though, I have a collection of shoe Christmas ornaments for my girlie “shoe” tree, and each year I buy a few more Christmas ornaments. I suppose I didn’t consider them a collection because they are only displayed seasonally.

  21. What about the psychology of purging? (And I don’t mean food). I know some people who hate accumulating stuff. Or there are people like myself, who used to have a lot of stuff, but then started to get rid of it. Now it’s almost an addiction to see what I can get rid of!

  22. avatar NorthernBCMom Says:
    January 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    All you Christmas ornament collectors, I’m totally with you. We also buy a Christmas ornament each time we go on a trip. I love digging out the ornaments every Christmas. We not only get to decorate the tree but we also reminisce about all the wonderful places we’ve been.

    @Tracy – I love your idea for an Olympic Christmas ornament. I also attended the Olympics but could not find an ornament. Great idea. Thanks.

    I love that Gail’s blog inspires us to think about different subjects each day and then the comment section gives us a place to share ideas and help each other!

  23. I have a collection of the original Polly Pockets (the ones that actually fit in your pocket) from when I was a kid. I have the first two they ever sold in Canada that was given to me by my grandmother and about 30 more. I love them. I look at them from time to time and they bring me memories from when I was a kid. I kept them in wondeful shape little to no missing pieces. I haven’t decided if I should sell them or give them to my little girl when I have one. For now they are in a box so they don’t take up much room.

    I also have coins. Not for any particular reason other then I think money from different places is neat. Any time a friend or family member went to another country I ask for a coin. Makes me feel like I got to go too!

    Lastly I’m a photographer so I have a tendency to collect other peoples work for my walls. I buy a lot and when I get bored of them I either sell it or give it to someone else as a gift.

  24. Skinny Santas. I found the first one, a funky, glitter covered, tin number with striped socks, in a bead shop that was going out of business and now every Christmas I unwrap my collection and try to add a new one. My favorite is the skinny Santa in his bathrobe and slippers. I think it’s the hunt for something specific and unusual that I like. And standing all together at Christmas they’re an odd, slightly skewed glimpse at my continuing childhood!

  25. I don’t “collect” anything! What is the psychology on that? I don’t like multiple items around and have never felt the need for pursing a whole collection of anything.

    lol-house hippos in the tub! wt…?

  26. There was a 25 volume series written in southern USA during the period of 1870-1900 or so that I collect. I collect the entire series, and interesting multiples of books I have (ones with interesting artwork, first editions, etc). It’s hard to find well preserved copies and there’s still a few I’m missing. My sister and grandmother introduced me to them as a kid, and I love hunting for them. Although the content is problematic by today’s standards, I love that they were written by a woman at a very interesting moment in time. They aren’t really worth anything, and there are so few of them that it’s not a very expensive or time-consuming hobby. Other than that, I’ve never been a collector of anything, although if I was, it would definitely be antique books.

    That said, if anyone has old books from the Elsie Dinsmore series (they almost all have titles like “Elsie’s holidays at Roselands” or “Elsie on the Hudson”, etc) and you want to purge, I’ll totally buy them from you! :)

  27. Jessie, I’ll take a loo. My grandma who just passed away’s name is Elsie and I am sure I saw one of those books when I was cleaning out her cupboard:) She also had all my books as a child stacked in there..

  28. avatar mylilypad Says:
    January 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    @ Kathryn: I’ll take ’em, I’ll take ’em!!

    I collect Nancy Drew books too, but my collection is not as extensive as yours. I started reading them as a young teen, and by the time I figured out I had outgrown them, they became a collectors item!

  29. I also increasingly feel the need to purge my home of as much as I can. I don’t know whether this comes with growing older and just wanting to make cleaning and organizing easier, or is it a result of watching the various types of shows on hoarding. First was Clean Sweep and a few others like that which I enjoyed, and now there are the horrible ones which are so hard to watch but make you want to see how things turn out. These are certainly a warning call for out of control collectors. One poor woman had enough dolls to fill her house and smother her if they ever fell over.

  30. Ersh…. Comic books! And I still have 2,000 of them sitting at my parents’ house all ordered, boxed, and properly bagged. Luckily they are actually worth some money. Sadly, to get the best of that money they’ll all need to be appraised by title. …And to get the full value of the rarest ones, sent away to an appraiser at cost.

    …Then it switched to Sex Pistols recods when I was 17. …Then to DVDs in my 30s. I “coolected” but luckily never to the point of obsession or financial trouble.

    I think it’s just nice to look at a cluster of things that belong together. I still enjoy running my hand across a nicely organized row of comics, LPs, or DVDs.

  31. I collect thimbles from places I’ve been and my friends have added to my collection when they travel. I also have a small collection of interesting cards/stationery and bookmarks. I try to keep collections to things I really love and items that will not take up huge amounts of space. Items have to appeal to me and have an emotional connection. I don’t buy just to collect and I don’t buy with the thought of resale value.

    I started buying music boxes for my Mom and after she died I divvied her collection up between the grand-kids and kept the first two I bought her for myself.

  32. This post got me thinking that I actually do collect several things though for example items I use for doing crafts (scrapbooking supplies,material for sewing, yarn for knitting) I never really thought of as a collection but I suppose it is as I tend to buy items when I see something I like on sale weather or not I will use it right away so it is sort of a collection, though I do eventually use everything. I collected stamps and coins as child. Now I would say I collect books, especially old ones, whille I dont actively look for old books if I come across them I alway buy 1 or 2. I would also say I collect pictures, I have been working on a family history and which in turn lead to me borrowing all the old family photos from my aunt (they were my grandmothers) and I scanned them all, I have started doing photo books as I figure who the people in the pictures are, so it has become a sort of side project. I also make a point at the end of every year to print my digital photos and make albums, but with the advent of digital cameras we take so many more pictures! And in my albums I keep any event tickets or postcards from places we go.

  33. The only real collections I ever had were fostered by my grandma. When I was about 9 I decided I liked ducks. Every Christmas and birthday I would get something duck themed. The trouble is, I grew out of the duck-thing and couldn’t bear to tell my grandma so I got them for several years after. At some point in early high school I probably mentioned to my grandma that I liked lizards, so then I got lots for Christmas/birthday/Easter/etc from her. Again, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t like them enough to collect them. She just loved giving them to me. After she passed away, I got rid of all the lizards, but kept a couple of the most special ducks for the memories. It’s funny how guilty I felt getting rid of them, even though I didn’t want to collect them in the first place and they didn’t reflect who I was as a person.

    Now I don’t collect anything, but I do have a huge pile of my art by my kids that I don’t know what to do with. I can’t keep it all, but it’s hard to get rid of something made by my kids. Eventually the pile will get so big I’ll have to purge and keep my favourites.

  34. When I was little I collected soaps from hotels. That was when the soaps had wrappers that indicated the name of the hotel. I actually had some from very old hotels that had since been demolished (my aunt supplied those) and from the States and Europe. I loved that collection and I kept it my room in a couple of boxes. Fast forward to when my children stayed at my parents in my old room, found the boxes and proceeded to unwrap each soap. Now all I was left with was a box of individual naked soaps!
    Now I seem to collect cross stitch patterns, magazines or kits. I have enough possible projects to last a couple of life times but that doesn’t stop me from picking up something I think will be fun to complete.
    I also love books but I have become more critical of the ones that I keep. I often go back and re-read the books so there are certain authors I don’t get rid of. I have a box that I put store books in for the next charity book sale event. I often re-donate the ones I bought at the sale the year before after I’ve read them.

  35. avatar ~Stephanie Says:
    January 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I have my grandfather’s frog collection that I inherited. I gave him quite a few and I am very glad to have them . They are not displayed right now because I don’t trust my kids :) Otherwise I am trying to de-junk my house. This summer Isold my Nora Riberts collection but kept my JD Robb’s!

  36. gail, it’s funny, i was JUST talking about this last night to my mom. i was kind of wishing i collected something, as we were taking down her santa collection. she has a BUNCH of different santas and it’s fun to take them out every year, i always buy her one to add to the collection. but then after thinking about it, i realized i do collect two things. one is mugs – i try to buy a mug from every city i go to. they are a usable object (right now i’m living at home but when i move out i won’t need to buy any mugs at all!), and it’s fun to think about las vegas, or italy, or london, or all the other places i’ve been to while drinking my coffee or tea. i also collect funny/amusing greeting cards. i have hundreds of them…the only problem is that i never want to give them away!

  37. avatar Tennis Fan Says:
    January 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I basically only collect Christmas ornaments from places I visit. I love it because there is a story for all of them. Beyond that I have a two bookcase limit for my books or they would completely out of control. When I travel I don’t buy the junk souvenirs I buy items that can be used in decorating my house of use.

  38. @ Alison: Re: “but I do have a huge pile of my art by my kids that I don’t know what to do with. I can’t keep it all, but it’s hard to get rid of something made by my kids. Eventually the pile will get so big I’ll have to purge and keep my favourites.”
    well, you could scan them or take pics of them, and your child could be in the photo too if you wish, proudly showing off their work… one parent I know tried to go into their child’s school whenever his work was posted, and took a pic of him with it so she didn’t have the clutter of saving the work itself. Digital pics don’t take up much room, and still preserve the memory :)

  39. I collect antique books. Nothing of value, just interesting content. On whatever topic interests me, which bizarrely enough, is generally centered around insurance.So I’ve got tons of old books on life insurance. And health and dental stuff (ie. health and dental insurance). And fishing. And finance/investing.

    I’ve been scanning my books and putting them online for others to read (if they’re old enough, they’re out of copyright so it’s cool). It’s a lot of work, but I’ve had some of the books used by TV shows doing research.

    That way, I’m not the only one who gets to enjoy them – I’m hopeful others can use them perhaps for research. I’m revamping all the book sites right now, so the sites are in pretty rough shape, but here’s some examples:
    http://www.olddentalbooks (health and dental books)
    http://www.antiquestockmarketbooks.com
    and I’ll have about 20 antique books on the history of canada up shortly (maybe over the weekend) at http://www.acrosscan.com.

  40. Apparently I collect yarn. It’s something of an accident, actually. I became interested (or re-interested?) in knitting shortly before my youngest was born, so I asked an aunt if she had some yarn to donate (since we were now on the Gail plan 😉 ). Oh, she had yarn! In a single day I had an entire trunk full! Ever since, my aunts have handed me ball after ball, faster than I can knit projects. They even give me half-completed projects to recycle the yarn from (I love giving the yarn a new lease on life like that).

  41. The local paper ran an article on a gentleman who collects Canadian Tire Money. He’s got bills and coins from when they first started printing the money from way back. He’s got just about every denomination from every year of printing.

    As for me….I guess I like to collect sweets and then eat them! :)

  42. The blog today asks if we have a collection of stuff.
    What can I say? Is it a collection? Do I have enough?
    Carousel horses arrived regularly on many a celebratory occasion,
    Sadly most have journeyed on to recently be sold at auction.

    I’ve kept a few I favoured and now have them on display,
    It’s enough to see and dust them and not have to feed them hay;
    I really love a calliope and rode one this past November,
    It’s enough not to own a big one – I’ll just sit here and remember.

    It’s been my observation of others regarding their accumulation of stuff,
    They really love their collections and giving them up would be tough;
    I think in my mind I’ve found the link, the connection, call it a key,
    I have never started a collection…..the stuff has collected me.

  43. When I was younger I collected several different things–stamps, coins, comic books, stickers, unicorns–as I got older I found the childhood excitement of a lot of had worn off. We inherited a rather large coin collection some time ago, and there’s just so MUCH–it made me realize that over collecting took away the…emotional value?…that the pieces had…so I pretty much stopped and focused on enjoying the ones I did have. I stopped collecting unicorns years ago, since I was very particular about the kind I preferred (elegant, finely detailed ones) and people kept giving me cheap poorly made ones that I didn’t have the heart to throw out. I’m sure my comics back at my childhood home might be worth something to a collector out there somewhere…

    Other end of the spectrum…my mil collected plates from Gone With the Wind. She had 3 full series, which she left to all the kids–except none of the kids have any interest in the stuff, but we all feel guilty. So I have a full set on display in my tiny tiny dining room, and another set in boxes downstairs. I sometimes wish she had found someone who had the same affinity for them as her, so they would have gone to someone who would fully appreciate them….

  44. Oh Kathryn! You are so lucky! I love those books and have often thought of picking up the “new” old copies of these books for my two girls. If you ever plan to sell them on eBay or similar site please post here so that I can try to bid too!

  45. avatar koolchicken Says:
    January 16, 2011 at 4:28 am

    I’m defiantly a collector, I’ve had various collections since I was a kid. Right now my favourites are Disney pin trading, handbags, and sparkle hair clips, and Pandora beads. For the most part I like to collect things I can use on a regular basis. I hate stuff that just sits. Although I have thought about collecting film cells and I guess they don’t serve a “real” purpose. Bt they take up very little room and would look cool in a floating frame displayed in my game room.

  46. I have a fairly large collection of collector barbie dolls from mattel. I started in high school, so about 13 years, I have about 50+. In the past few years I have only added a few to my collection as they can get veary pricy. I do however get the x-mas ones every year, except for the one year when she was really ugley, I spent my $50.00 on a differnt more pretty one. I also collect disney figurens.

  47. Holy Hannah these people collect a lot of items! I have the opposite issue, I’m a purger and love it! I like things empty instead of full.
    The point of my comment, the thing people fail to realize is that when they die someone has to get rid of, sell, or hand down all of their stuff. My brother past away last February and, you guessed it, he was a collector/hoarder. I have a room full of his Marilyn Monroe collectibles plus hockey cards. I’m not a collector but I got the nod from family to deal with it. Not so fun. What the heck do you do with all this stuff???!!!
    I started cataloging it to start with, I’m halfway done. The thing is, how do I know what is worth something and what isn’t? Will I get taken by taking it to a collector? What’s the value? These are things that people like myself who do not collect and do not like clutter have to deal with when someone dies.
    Unless you are honoring the items by displaying them and keeping them dust free in an area where they make your heart sing I suggest you start purging and save the ones you love from the daunting task of trying to figure out what the hell to do with your stuff!

  48. avatar baby steps Says:
    January 17, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Ahh – Christmas tree ornaments! When I was very young, Tetley Tea (or maybe red rose) included in their boxed tea little birds – with feathers. Not the ceramic animals that came later, but little birds with feathers. We put those on our Christmas Tree. Then suddenly, they weren’t made anymore, but I continued and gave my mother a bird ornament every year. 50 years later, my mother still gets a bird ornament every year, and it is written in her will that I will inherit them. Every Christmas as we decorate the tree we discuss the ‘lineage’ of each bird – where I got it, why I chose it. etc. Some of those original birds are mighty sad looking – going bald, broken or missing legs, moth eaten tails… like their owner, they show the passage of time.

    As for me, I collect angels for the Christmas tree. I have plastic, wooden, knit, crocheted, ceramic, glass, tin, paper, pinecone…you name it, I have it. The only rule – they must be a gift from someone else, I cannot buy it for myself. As with the birds, I can identify each angel, who gave it to me, when etc.

    I imagine my tree when I’m in my 70s – birds and angels.

    My niece has already requested the birds and angels be hers when I pass on.

  49. my husband and I are both in our 60’s, have started travelling a few years ago to Dominican and Cuba with a group of friends, and around the Maritimes. I always bring back a rock, on which I write the date and place, and add to a big bowl in my living room. I have rocks from newfoundland, as well as carribean locations, and always brings back fond memories of the trip –

  50. Well I collect big mugs for coffee and tea from the places we visit and Christmas ornaments because like many others, I love to decorate the tree with memories. But never both. I think as the family historian I seem to collect family treasures…so far this is ok with me.

  51. avatar Richard Stooker Says:
    January 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I’ve always collected books and associated items: comic books and magazines.

    I believe that when I was younger it was rooted in insecurity. What if I ran out of interesting things to read? That was many years before megabookstores and Amazon. Now, after years of lugging boxes and sorting through stacks and buying and selling, and buying still more . . . I feel much less need to have everything I’ll ever want stored in a closet or basement.

    However, I am still compulsive sometimes. I’ve noticed that when I want to learn about a particular subject, I have to restrain myself from buying every book about it.

    I did learn to be skeptical of claims that collecting was a good investment. When us baby boomers were buying old comics, they skyrocketed in price. When large numbers moved on, they plunged.

    I suspect that in coming years toys, games, comics, baseball cards and other items from the 50s, 60s and 70s will go up in value as wealthy boomers retire and get nostalgic.

    But maybe not. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. We might be too busy backpacking in Africa.

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  52. I collect old Aprons.

  53. I have almost the whole set of original Nancy Drew books my mom and aunt read… I love the memories of reading them at my grandmas… Only missing and so that’s what I keep an eye for at garage sales etc…

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