Perhaps it was viewing a collection of funeral memorabilia (see Memorable Memorials)as well as an artistic display of Freida Warther’s buttons located at the Warther Museum and Gardens, that sparked the idea of writing about things, other than thoughts, that I’ve collected.The first things I can remember collecting were cancelled stamps beginning with a 1/2 cent stamp found on an envelope in Grandma’s attic, Lincoln Wheat Pennies, and porcelain horse figurines. The stamps and pennies were treasures that I accumulated just by paying attention to what passed through my hands. The horses were purchased with my own money and proudly displayed, then later passed along to a friend with a similar collection.
Not all collections are displayed. Some are kept in secret places to be discovered from time to time and delighted in once again. Just the other day, I pulled the rubber band off the bundle of love letters my husband sent during our dating days and was reminded of days gone by. Photo collections from our kids’ childhoods are carefully stored in albums, ensuring that the memories don’t fade away. When they were young boys, I subscribed to Family Fun Magazine. Just last year, I leafed through the pile of issues, tearing out a few pages before recycling the magazines. These days I subscribe to Cooking Light and tear out a couple of recipes each month to add to my recipe collection. My other utilitarian collections include crochet patterns and flute music.
The value of my collections is much more sentimental than material. I love to pick up a souvenir when on a trip, and have gathered bells from some states we’ve visited. The Rooster bell with salt and pepper shakers is from my mom’s large collection of sets that she has been parting with.
It’s nice when someone you love has a collection. When Mom was collecting a set of animal salt and peppers for each letter of the alphabet. I experienced the thrill of the hunt, locating a pair of Quails. With a sister collecting clowns, I would buy or crochet one for her from time to time. She has narrowed the collection to Emmitt Kelly Jr. figures, so I keep my eyes open for his sad face at antique stores . With a son who loves Nintendo’s Mario collectables, it has been fun to present him with a hard-to-find figure once in a while. As a kid of the 90s, Kyle also enjoyed the Beanie Baby craze and I gathered a selection of red, white, and blue bears to add to my Americana decor. Interesting fact: those who collect teddy bears are called Arctophiles.
In 1992, we moved from Ohio to North Dakota, a state where Northern Cardinals fear to fly. I had enjoyed watching the bright red birds in Ohio and hatched the idea to collect Cardinal sun catchers and attach them to my dining room window. This was my favorite collecting experience. I’ve disposed of broken or faded ones, but still have a few of the sun catchers. Back in Ohio for 20 years now, this may be the time to choose a favorite one and put the rest in my garage sale. Here are some that remain.
In 1999, the 50 State Quarters Program began. It is reported that roughly half of the U.S. population collected those quarters, either casually or as a serious pursuit. Here’s my complete group of State Quarters which we still display. Finite collections are satisfying and not as likely to encroach on space or sanity.
I currently have an open-ended collection of angel figurines who play flutes. They have special meaning for me as a flutist. They’re a little hard to find, especially angels who know that the flute is held to the right side of the body. All but a few taller pieces are displayed on a china closet shelf in our dining room.
While collecting thoughts about collecting, I read a lighthearted article written by Mark B. McKinley, Ed.D., professor of psychology at Lorain County Community College in Ohio. McKinley describes the evolution of collecting, the motivations to collect, collecting vs hoarding, and hoarding as pathology. He begins with the statement, “Everybody collects something.” What do you collect?