Thursday, April 15, 2021


 I touched on collections in my post on thrift stores because I often notice a group of things on the shelves that I figured were donated from someone's collection. Most of us collect something during our lives. As a kid, I collected coins and stamps and due to my love of reading I collected Louis L'amour western books. I never got too serious about the coin collection but did fill up a penny book or two. As a kid, I didn't have money to go to a coin store to fill in the gaps. My collection included coins I found in change or that my dad had given me. I was more serious about stamp collecting. I had several stamp albums and a lot of newer stamps that my parents had bought me or that I had soaked off of letters. I had a large assortment of old letters and postcards found in our house when my parents first  bought it. Most were dated in the 1920's or so. I continued to collect stamps in early adulthood when I worked as a mailman. Every once in awhile I would pick up a letter with old postage on it on my route. The letter would have multiple old stamps with 3, 5, and 7 cents stamps to make up the newer postage rates. Several times I knocked on the doors of the customers and offered to buy their remaining old stamps. Most of the time, the husband had passed and the wife was just using the stamps at face value and they were happy to sell them to a me to add to my collection. I continued to buy a few stamps over the years at stamp shops and then lost interest a few years back. I still have the collection and have promised them to my son.

Currently, my wife has a small collection of depression era dishes but that is about our extent of collecting at the moment. We have a few items here and there that are antiques or we received when my parents passed. I don't consider any of that a part of a collection, although they would fit into reasons #1 or #2 listed below. I found that there are nine common reasons people collect things:

    1. Family and emotional meaning- photos, greeting cards, flower petals, seashells and other memory items

    2. To connect to their childhood- sports cards, comic books, dolls, miniature cars and other things

    3. Knowledge and Learning- books, magazines and newspapers

    4. Historical Collecting- historical memorabilia, autographs, artifacts

    5. Pleasure and Enjoyment- art, wine, music boxes, posters, concert tickets and shirts

    6. Collect as an Investment- rare and vintage items, stamps, coins, toys, rare whiskies

    7. Social Interaction- flea markets, swap meets and auctions

    8. Recognition and Prestige- having the best and most valuable collection

    9. Thrill of the Hunt- joy and excitement of finding a treasure for the collection

When I was younger, my grandmother had a collection of dog figurines. I don't know how it started but once she began, everybody began to bring her a dog for her collection. She had a line of shelves in her living room with every type of dog figurine you can imagine. Some had writing on the bottom notating when she received them. I don't know whatever happened to her collection, but I assume it wound up in an estate sale or a thrift shop. I had an aunt that collected clown figurines. I think one of my sisters collected cat figurines when she was younger. 

Collecting can get out of hand, just watch an episode of "Hoarders". Some people have entire rooms to house their collections. Some people have huge garages to house their car collection or sign collection. I remember some time ago seeing a news story on a woman's salt and pepper shaker collection. Her entire house had glassed in floor-to-ceiling cases holding her collection. They were on every wall in every room and down hallways. It was a huge collection! What we collect is often important and holds value only to the collector. I can admire your salt and pepper shaker collection, but I sure don't want to own it myself.  

I'm sure many a collection has been reduced or liquidated in retirement as some may downsize and not have room for their collection in a smaller home or apartment. Some collections may have been liquidated or given away due to change of interest. Some collections are probably in boxes in attics, basements and storage units. Retirement provides the opportunity to dust off old collections and for some to get back to enjoying what they have put on the shelf for lack of time or money. 

What do you collect and why? Does your collecting fit into one of the 9 reasons listed above? Have you done more collecting in retirement than before since you have more time to devote to it? Did you once have a collection that you regret parting with? Do you have a collection that has taken over your house or your life? How about unusual collections, anyone have something uncommon?


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