I collect stuff. Actually I collect a whole lot of stuff. I don’t know how it even started, all this collecting, but it is an obsession that I just can’t seem to quit. I don’t collect traditional things like coins or stamps. Nope, I have to collect vintage eye glasses, vintage cowboy boots, old Bakelite jewelry, crystal beaded jewelry, Day of the Dead objects, fiesta dresses, lots and lots of beads, and the list goes on and on.
What possesses someone to start a collection? And what possesses someone to collect something out of the ordinary? I’ve always loved old stuff. I’ve often felt that I was born a couple of decades late. I prefer old rhythm and blues, classic cars, and vintage fashion. Old things feel comfortable to me.
A big part of collecting old things is that you know there is a history to them. Who owned, wore, or made these old treasures? I think of all of my collections as treasures! Part of the fun of collecting something unusual is the thrill of the hunt. Wherever I go, I am always on the lookout for that special addition. Whether I find something in a thrift store, garage sale or on eBay, it is exciting to finally get that missing piece!
A funny thing happens when you get collectors together, they get excited talking about their own collections, yet love to hear about yours even if it’s something they would never collect. I have some friends who have fantastic collections here in Burque. Here are their stories.
Spring is my kind of collector. She has many collections and they tend to be on the fun and funky side of the spectrum. I’ll start by listing a few - paper dolls, handkerchiefs, maps, postcards, Fire King kitchenware, games, bride and groom cake toppers, patterns - all vintage.
Her collections started in an interesting way. Her first collection was album covers. She said that she used the images in her artwork and from there it went to movie magazines of the 50s and vintage patterns. She said she likes the aesthetic of the 50s and 60s. I have to agree. She grew up in the 70s but but her toys were usually from thrift stores and often older toys. Things from the 50s and 60s are nostalgic to her and remind her of her childhood.
I asked if she had a particulate favorite collection or if she had to choose just one thing to collect, what would it be? I knew she was a true collector when she said, “Oh that is such a hard question!” How can you just choose one? Ultimately she said she it would have to be vintage handmade linens.
She doesn’t display her collections but keeps everything in her studio to have as inspiration. She likes being able to revisit and share her things with others.
I asked if there were any new collections on the horizon? She said no, but sometimes collections will have a honeymoon period, that’s all you collect for a while, then it’s time to go on to the next thing. I think, at least for me, it’s an organic process. Sometimes things just come your way for a reason.
I absolutely will be checking in with Spring to see how her collections are coming along and what new treasures she’s found!
I sent Chris a series of questions about his one GIANT collection and here is what he had to say:
I have one collection. I collect playing cards, and have been doing so since 1985. That year I got my femur broken (a bad spiral break) and was in traction for 2 months. My mom came and visited me as often as possible and we played scrabble and rummy. We filled a spiral notebook with our running scores. For my thirteenth birthday I went from being in traction to donning a full body cast, and was home bound. I spent 3 months in the body cast and had a friend at the time who didn't like getting beaten at cards so we started building card houses. Just after we started, we read an article about two boys in Georgia (I think) that just set the world record for biggest freestanding card houses and thought to ourselves... “We can take 'em.”
My card collection grew from a couple of decks to nearly 100 as we kept going to Walgreens, Osco, and other various grocery stores and picking up cheapy decks at 10 for a dollar in our quest to take the ten-year-olds down. We didn't get the record due to us also learning how to accurately throw cards at each other (and our cool architecture).
From that point on, friends and family have helped swell my collection to well over 3000 decks. I still get elated when I or anyone else finds a deck that I don't already own (even the likes of Barbie, Powerpuff Girls, or Dora the Explorer). I have way too many very cool decks to single any out as my absolute favorite... however, that first very worn out Bicycle deck that my mom and I shared from the hospital gift store means the most to me. Currently I don't have the room or display cases to show off my collection, however my duplicates get used whenever I have friends over for poker night and I always get compliments on my fantastic collection.
How you start a collection and what you choose to collect is different for everyone. I'm curious about your collections! Please share your obsessions!
Adelita's exotic beads from around the world
Adelita's Bakelite bracelets
Spring's wedding cake toppers
Chris' Las Vegas collection
Chris' giant deck of cards!