Monday, April 9, 2012

Taking Up a Collection

It's not what you may think. I'm not asking for money or for old clothes, but I could use a few good ideas. I've noticed that many people seem to enjoy collecting things, so I'd like to take up collecting, too.

My mother-in-law, Reggie, was an enthusiastic collector of frogs. I'm not sure how her fixation started, but she coveted frogs of all shapes, sizes, and materials. It made gift-giving easy, since she always welcomed another frog. It amazed me how many collectible frogs exist in the world. Once I became attuned, I saw them everywhere. There isn't an antique, gift, or garden shop without at least a frog or two.

Perhaps inspired by his mother, E. briefly collected elephants. Delighted, Reggie gave him a small bejeweled Indian elephant for his birthday and he acquired a few more on his own. But soon his attention drifted back to his larger passion, cars. Unless you're Jay Leno, though, there are only so many of those you can collect.

For some, collecting is a serious and fulfilling pursuit. One of my friends collects maps of the Arctic, another is an insatiable gatherer of shells, while several are devoted book collectors. My cousin's husband loves coins and can be found at many numismatic shows, happily perusing his favorite coin categories and trying to fill in gaps in his collection.

Another friend became such an avid collector of rabbits that he decided to open an antique shop to sell his overflow. Before long, though, he closed the shop. For him, the joy was in the collecting, not the selling.

The possibilities for collecting are endless—dishware and pottery, porcelain figurines, Star Wars paraphernalia, baseball cards, snuff boxes. One friend, a frequent flier, has acquired a rather large collection of airsickness bags.

So far, all these wonderful examples have failed to awaken a collecting passion in me. I've been wracking my brain for something fun and engaging. I like animals, but I prefer the live variety. Amassing a large number of rubber duckies wouldn't take the place of a breathing, quacking duck for me. My grandfather was a stamp dealer, but the idea of a stamp collection leaves me cold. Besides, at the rate the postal service is going, snail mail and stamps will soon become obsolete and there will be nothing new to collect.

I'm not much of a shopper, so I doubt I'd enjoy poking around stores for interesting objects. And I'm not fond of yard sales and the like, where some collectors find hidden treasures. Even used bookstores don't hold much allure for me. All those moldy books just make me sneeze.

My decorating style is minimalist, so I wouldn't really want a lot of tchotchkes taking up shelf space, which could be a problem if I decided to collect, say, Limoges boxes. My mother collected glass animals—she had cats, swans, dolphins, and other glass and crystal creatures. They looked pretty in her mirrored cabinet, but they wouldn't work in my spare living room.

Clearly, I need help. All thoughts are welcome. In fact, I'd love to collect all your collecting suggestions, maybe even compile them into a book. Now that's an idea!

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Click on them to enlarge them.


  1. Thanks for mentioning Neil. ;) And you are better off not collecting stuff. I have never unpacked my stuff from my move 5 years ago. I just bought new stuff. Eventually stuff becomes a burden that requires care and feeding (dusting) and one day you may wake up and decide to simplify your life and sell all your stuff on ebay. The best things to collect are experience and memories. Just my opinion.

  2. You could take up John/Jock's vomit bag collection since he's not traveling internationally that much anymore! (You must have tried hard to forget this collection!!!)

  3. Here's an Austin museum of collections that I just read about. I like the idea of collecting something that no one else does.

  4. I think I agree with Liz. All of my life, I've been a collector. After seeing The Glass Menagerie I began collecting tiny glass figurines. Since then I've collected old books, depression glass, brass pieces, agates (in fact all kinds of things picked up on beaches...obicular jasper, polished sea glass, strange shaped driftwood. My latest (and I think my last) addiction has been to journals...all shapes, sizes & fashions. If I lived to be 200, I would never be able to fill them all. However, at this point, I would never be able to rid myself of a single one. Oh, I forgot, I also collected boxes for a while. Bonnie