By Sherry Harris

From Northern Virginia — one more warm day before the cold settles in

IMG_3973I love to collect things. It started as a little girl with marbles — purees and cat eyes were my favorites. I sold most of them at a friend’s yard sale in second grade. (The marbles in the picture I found in my grandparent’s basement. They are all nicked up like they were well used.) Then around third grade I started collecting angel figurines. In sixth grade, for science, we had to do rock collections. I even liked that. During college my sorority mascot was turtles. I had a lot of turtles.

As an adult I’ve gone through a cobalt glass phase. I’ve given most of it away but kept IMG_3969some of my favorites.

A vintage tablecloth phase. Every once in awhile one of them seems better suited to some friend or the other so I’ve whittled down that collection.IMG_3972

IMG_3970IMG_3971And I’m overly fond of tables and chairs. The chair to the right was my mom’s from her childhood. Did I mention benches? I’ll talk about art another day. For Christmas there’s my Santa Claus collection.

Writing this is making me worry about myself. Thankfully, two things keep me from becoming a hoarder — a husband who’s a minimalist and a lot of moves. Being an Air Force wife meant different size living spaces at different assignments and weight limits for how much we could move. Bob would have killed me if I went over the weight limit.

IMG_3976I think we’ll be downsizing soon but I want to keep collecting something. A friend of mine suggested collecting the letter “H” a few years ago. They fit in a bowl. They are fun to search out in antique stores, thrift shops, and at yard sales. They’re small enough  Bob doesn’t mind them or at least not out loud.

I’m not sure what drives me to collect things or why it changes over the years. But I’m guessing I’m not going to quit anytime soon.

What do you collect? Has it changed over the years?

26 Thoughts

  1. Have you read about Mary Todd Lincoln’s collections? Gloves, lace curtains and ottomans were among her most interesting acquisitions. Question? How many does it take to be considered a collection? Me, I collect teacups, cigar boxes and tiny dog figurines..

    1. I have one old cigar box from my grandparent’s basement — the marbles are in it. Interesting question about how many does it take — more than two? When you realize you love something and want more?

  2. Ah, a kindred spirit–I thought I was the only one who collected chairs. I find them at yard sales and flea markets, and I call them orphan chairs, so I have to bring them home and fix them. And then there’s my vintage cookware collection… My philosophy is, if it gives you pleasure to look at and handle the item, keep it; if you haven’t seen it in five years and it’s a dust-catcher, find someone else who will enjoy it (or give it to a library or church or grange sale (we have all of them in my town) and let them deal with it).

    1. I loved the orphaned chairs, Sheila! I found one of my favorite chairs on the side of the road in Bedford, Massachusetts. It’s quite delicate with a dainty shell carved at the top.

      1. I found four at a barn of a junk dealer in Carlisle (yeah, not exactly a slum–near Bedford). He called them “married chairs” because there were two pairs that almost matched but not quite. It only took me ten years to finish recaning the seats (and glueing them back together so someone could sit on them). but I think they’re mid 19th century, and I paid under $20 a chair.

  3. Who knew you could collect a letter! I don’t really have any collections going except for cloth. Beautiful cloth from West Africa, mostly. In plastic boxes. It’s my cloth bank. Oh, and I have my international doll collection. Unfortunately it’s in a box now, too. Need to get that out and display them. Dolls from Japan, Greece, Spain, China, Brazil, plus a few childhood dolls and one of my mother’s, of a black girl.

  4. Hi Sherry! Love your collections. I find nothing strange about anything that anyone collects since I am related to people who have an antiques shop (although your friend who collects dining room tables….hmmmm…..where does she put them?)
    Moves in the military have definitely helped me rein in any urges to collect, but I still have my Barbie collection safely tucked away.

    1. Some day we need to take a road trip to the antique store! I was a guy who collected the dining room tables and he lived in another state so I never saw the collection. Barbies — I’m down to one.

  5. I’m a recovering collector. I used to collect teapots, miniature houses, pebbles, fancy hats, recipes, plants for the garden, terra-cotta pots. At this point I try to stick with collecting books and seashells I find during walks along the beach.

  6. I use to colect anything Raggedy Andd and Andy, but ran out of room. Most of the poor babies are backed away in the basement. When I was very young I collected comic books (which I have sold off) and non-sport trading cards (which I still have). Recently i have started recollecting Nancy Drew books because I sold my collection as a young girl at a yard sale. I started collecting autographs when I was 18 (47 now) and I have had fun watching that collection grow. I have some very memorable people such as Betty White and some people many have never heard of such as a group called Vocal Trash. But I love every last on of them and they don’t take up a great deal of room. I keep them in ring binders Most are signed photos, post cards, bookmarks) but I do have many book signed by authors. Speaking of…Sherry would you or any of the other wonderful authors here care to add to my collection? Doesn’t have to be a signed book) 🙂 Happy collecting everyone!

    1. Your autograph collection sounds very interesting! I had a pair of Raggedy Ann and Andy’s when I was young. My book doesn’t come out until next fall but I’d love to sign a copy for you then.

      1. My original Raggedy Ann was my best friend when I was a little girl. Thank you for the offer to sign your book for me! It will be a wonderful addition to me collection!

  7. I collect horse figurines. I started when I was very young… my first collection. I would put them on the crossbeam around my bed. When the snow came and filtered in through the cracks in the wall it made playing with them more fun. I had to restart my horse collection several times, because my mother kept throwing them out. I stopped collecting for a long time–I think because of that. I was afraid to like horses or anything she might not like. I started collecting them again when I realized what was wrong with her was not her fault. But my love of horses and little figurines can never be separated from that peculiar hurt.

    1. My sister collected horses too Reine. But snow never filtered through the walls and she got to keep them as long as she wanted. I can’t even imagine. Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. So many great collection stories here. I have a friend who collects, and uses, anything with a cow theme. Makes gift buying for her so easy sometimes. Everywhere in her house you’ll find something with a cow on it.

    I collect odd coins – have the entire state quarters collections (at least 2 sets of each state). A year ago I began collecting gold dollars and putting them in a clear plastic piggy bank at work – was surprised the other day to see that it’s probably more than $50 in there. I buy every gold dollar that comes in, and my volunteers always alert me when there’s one in the cashbox.

    Autographs are another item, including books. I guess I’m most proud of the James Doohan (Scotty, on Star Trek: TOS) autograph although I’ve also got an autographed copy of George Takei’s first book about his life growing up in a Japanese internment camp in the US.

    I am amazed with my sister who can just throw things away – “Oh, that’s old, you’ll never use it again.” It’s like cutting off a piece of yourself, so I can understand how easily people who are emotionally fragile become hoarders.

    Books – those are my downfall. I really can’t throw them away. If I loan one out, I write down who has it, when they borrowed it, and I get antsy if it isn’t returned fairly soon.

  9. Thumping myself on the head with the heel of my hand and shouting CUPCAKES! How could I forget! I collect cupcakes. My kitchen is done in a cupcake theme and most of the ornaments on my Christmas tree are cupcakes. I love collecting them, baking them and eating them!

      1. Oh, that sounds good! Probably coconut with coconut frosting but I’ve rarely met a cupcake I didn’t like! A friend of my daughter brought over cookie dough cupcakes with a chunk of cookie dough inside. It is right up there with the best too!

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