Is Collecting in Your DNA?

tea-cart.JPGWhat is it that makes a person a collector?  A recessive gene?  A childhood lack or longing?  An obsessive personality?  After pondering this question, I’ve decided it’s probably all of those plus other reasons I’ll never understand. 

My grandmother was a collector.  Oh my goodness.  The precious lady never threw away so much as a scrap of fabric, a piece of paper or a bread wrapper   I’m sure her frugality and saving nature was a product of her time.  From her I inherited the ability to stretch a meal that would feed four to making-do for twelve in the blink of an eye and without a trip to the grocery store.  I have learned to force myself to throw away cards and papers and magazines–however I keep binders filled with the articles and pictures I will use.  Eventually.  Someday.

vintage-linens.jpgMy mother’s nothing like my grandmother.  She saves cards, books, mementos and letters, but has never had a problem getting rid of old toys, dishes or clothing.  However I have a couple of aunts who are collectors.

I ‘ve learned to weed through clothing and books and the kids’ old school papers and I have only one remaining box of cards and letters–okay, maybe two.  When we moved from the house where we raised our kids, I made them go through the boxes of school papers and drawings and look at them all before we pitched them, and I gave them all their report cards, etc.

cup9.JPGTwo years ago I did an office makeover, with all new furniture, cabinets and desks.  It was a huge job and I spent days going through filing cabinets, throwing away papers I’d moved twice and didn’t need.  I even reduced bookcases from FIFTEEN to nine–and gave away all of the books that were on them!

teacups1.jpgNow, if collecting is a gene, does that mean my children and grandchildren have it?  If it’s a compulsion, that does mean they’ll have seen enough in me and go another direction?  My oldest two daughters are minimalists, and the fact is an amazement to me.  When they’re finished with something, out it goes–furniture, wall décor, kitchen things–you name it.  Their homes are beautifully decorated and welcoming, with no excess clutter or displays of unnecessary items.  At one time my youngest daughter was the most like me.  Her bedroom at home was full, and anything the other girls or I were getting rid of, she wanted to keep it.  And she did.  But after having her own child and making several moves, it was easy for her to start pitching.

china-cabinet.JPGMy daughter-in-law is an extreme minimalist.  She likes things plain.  She says it calms her.  The year we moved here, I was in the middle of deadlines, planning a trip for RWA, and didn’t have time to do all the painting I wanted or hang things or unpack everything.  I was getting depressed because I didn’t have my “stuff” around me.  When I mentioned that to my daughter-in-law, she glanced around and said, “I like it. It’s peaceful.”

Just watching HGTV and seeing new paint colors being rolled onto walls gives me a thrill and the urge to redecorate.  Now mind you, I love new paint and I adore and must have color, but I don’t actually do all the “work” myself, oh no.  My darling husband is the best painter in the world.  He has been known to balk at faux techniques or anything fancy, so I have to help out there, but I’m basically the packer, advisor and gopher.

table2.jpgWe’re in the middle of a kitchen remodel right now, and it wouldn’t be so awful if I didn’t have so much stuff in boxes to work around.  But I’m getting more display space!

hatbox.jpgI’m not alone in my love for “stuff”.  I have a couple of friends who join me.  Sometimes we travel to antique weekend in Walnut, Iowa.  Oh my goodness.  Vendors and sellers from all over the Midwest come together for this yearly occasion.  The streets of the town are lined with campers and canopies and tents–business area, as well as the shady tree-lined neighborhoods.  The homeowners either set out their own wares or they sell food or drinks.  Kids pull wagons selling water and pop.  The legion hall and the school are filled with booths and tables.  We walked and browsed from early morning to late afternoon and didn’t see it all.  It was interesting to see what other people were buying.  One man bought a “four holer”.  It was a long old board with four holes that had once been the seat in an outhouse!  That was the topic of conversation everywhere he dragged that thing.  Why he wanted it or what he planned to do with is I have no idea.  I guess I do draw the line somewhere.

santatree.JPGMy friend Chris collects anything Snoopy, as well as wood handled cookie cutters, kitchen things, and red, white and blue, as well as German dollhouses and furniture.  My other friend, Carol, picked up doilies and fell in love with a pitcher and bowl set–she likes Victorian things.  I found a cup and saucer with red roses, a teapot made in Japan, a doily edged with pansies and a red and white potholder to add to my collection.  Also bought a floral teapot and a cup with no saucer.  I have extra saucers–you can pick up the pieces really cheap and then mix and match.  Now, obviously I didn’t need any of those things.

kitchenshelf1.jpgPart of the thrill of shopping flea markets and antique stores is “the hunt”.  Only die hards, like the breed we see in throngs in Walnut, will drive out of town, park in a field with parking attendants on horseback, and fight crowds in the blazing sun to look at every last thing to make sure they didn’t miss something wonderful.  And that’s the thing–once I’m there, I have to see it all.  Every last thing–every nook and cranny–every piece of glassware and each pie safe and all the old dolls and stoneware and–okay, I do skip over the vintage tools.  Hey!  There is something I don’t collect!  If I left without seeing it all, there would be a nagging question in my mind that I’d missed the one thing I couldn’t live without.

charm-bracelets.jpgAmong the things I collect are Beanie Baby monkeys, dogs and cats, Angel Cheeks, vintage chenille bedspreads, quilts, aprons and red & white crocheted potholders, white Pfaltzgraff dinnerware, Blue Willow dinnerware, vintage spice tins, white cream pitchers, pitchers, teapots, teacups and saucers, small plates with rose patterns, books, cookbooks, recipes, dolls, Josef figurines, Royal Copley planters, Royal Copley roosters, old photographs, Depression glass, deviled egg trays, vintage framed art of little girls, framed art of roses, hurricane lamps, vintage cologne bottles, old medicine tins, antique canning jars, vintage jewelry, not-so vintage jewelry, sterling silver charms, Christmas elves, Santas, Shiny Brite ornaments, Dickens Village houses, old board game markers, advertising tins with vintage girls, hat boxes, vintage doilies, painted metal serving trays, 40s and 50s tablecloths, glass bowls and old cookie cutters.

joseffigurines.jpgSome of you just don’t get it, I know.  You’re in the category with my daughters.  I admire you.  I do.  But I know there are some of you nodding your heads and thinking, yep, that’s it, right on the nose.  That’s me. 

What is it your passion to collect?  What do you find irresistable?

And if there’s someone reading this who has decided they don’t want all their good stuff anymore–call me.  I’ll be right over!

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42 thoughts on “Is Collecting in Your DNA?”

  1. Ah, Cheryl. You have me nodding my head this morning and grinning from ear to ear. Maybe it is genetic-

    I remember my great grandmother collected salt and pepper trinkets. She once gave me and my sister matching cat ones.(Unfortunately mine lost it’s tail in a dusting accident).

    My grandmother had a lot of things around her, but it was my grandpa who tended to find things at the fleamarkets and bring them home.

    My mom and aunt have it more severe. They don’t just collect things- they are “pack rats.” My mom collects copper molds, old fashion kitchen untensils like ice cream spoons, Christmas decorations, things with Thomas Kinkade paintings on them, fabrics, etc. My aunt gets anything she finds interesting and her house is overflowing with odds and ends.

    My dad collects old wood working tools- Stanley planes and antiques that he finds at auctions and the fleamarket. He also collects a variety of books. My uncle on my dad’s side collections old boardgames.

    I don’t like clutter, but I’m surrounded by it. I would like to be able to find a place for everything and have everything in it’s place but that’s extremely hard to do when I have two kids under 10 and a husband who tends to leave things where he drops them. LOL

    As for my collecting gene- I have a soft spot for oriental porcelain masks along with oriental themed decorations. Books, Beanie Baby cats(though I haven’t gotten any in years). Perfumes- my dresser is covered in bottle after bottle of perfumes I never use, but can’t bear to part with. I love cat trinkets and butterflies and those blown glass frosted roses and hearts. Christmas decorations. I used to be bad about collecting ink pens- I LOVE unusual ink pens and even better if they write good. Movies and music.

    My husband collects Oakland Raiders and Kentucky Wildcat themed items, old Playboys and comic books and baseball caps(most of which he never wears LOL)

  2. You’re a gal from a family after my own heart, Taryn.

    My cousin’s husband collects anything Lions, including clothing. His closet is nothing but Lions wear. They have a bedroom just for his stuff with bedspread and all.

  3. I enjoy seeing all the beautiful collections. It’s fascinating to me what people will collect – butterflies, tea cups, baseball caps. I wonder if there’s a book about what collections say about your personality.

    I used to be more of a collector. Then, a few years ago, I decided to liquidate most of my belongings. FOR ME, and I stress’for me’ – it was very liberating.

    Great blog Cheryl!

  4. I actually do collect things. I’m sure it sounds weird but I collect Buffy the Vampire action figures, tins, really anything Buffy. I also collect books, only keeping my favorite ones(which is pretty much all of them. I had to clean out one of my linen closets to hols all of my books. My husband also collects transformers. For along time I never threw anything out, but I have learn to do a spring and winter cleaning. If I haven’t used it in a year or just don’t need it out it goes.

  5. hmmm, I’ve never sat down to figure out all I collect, though I know my list is nowhere near as long as yours! My Gramma was a tosser, Grampa a packrat. so I guess the evened each other out. Mom gathered the things she loved around her, but other than dolls and books I don’t think she considered herself a collector. Now, my brther on the other hand…comics, hotwheels and anything Batman.

    let’s see, a grouping of three is a collection, right?

  6. There are some really good books on collecting, Sher. And gazing at the pictures is a thrill for us collectors. Reduction can be liberating, indeed. And there’s a point when you become more and more selective — well, maybe for some people anyway.

    Buffy isn’t weird at all, Rebekah. Look at how many Mickey collectors are out there. Lots of the authors I know collect Lord of the Rings action figures. Now weird? There was a guy trying out on Americal Idol a couple weeks ago who actually admitted he’d kept all his fingernail clippings for I don’t know how long. Now THAT’S weird!

    Spring cleaning is a MUST! It’s a good time to assess what you can live without.

    I did laugh about your “linen” closet, however. Who needs sheets? We have BOOKS! LOL

    *lizzie, three of anything is a bonified collection. Two is just two. And objects should be grouped together, otherwise the effect is just one of clutter. I’ve actually given a workshop on storing and displaying for an organization I belong to, can you believe it? Of course you can.

    You didn’t mention dashounds! (Is that how you spell it?)

  7. Cheryl, you collect such beautiful things. It makes me wish I did but I just hate dusting so much I tend to try and keep things stripped down.

    I don’t do much collecting except beloved books that I reread. But I’ve got a problem getting around to throwing anything away. I’m not a pack rat, I’m a procrastinator.

    So for the last few weeks…I’m an empty nester, just me and my husband, so why do was have three bedrooms with CRAMMED closets…I’ve been trying to throw away old clothes the girls have obviously not liked enough to take along.
    I’m telling you I have thrown away a CLOTHING STORE this last month. And I mean burned up…no used clothing store or Goodwill is close enough to be of use to me.

    And I’m not done yet and you know what? Those closets are STILL crammed. I’ve been emptying them and then refilling them with odds and ends lining shelves and the edges of the room that didn’t fit in the closets.

    I’ve GOT to stick with it, get tougher. Those rooms should by rights, be EMPTY.
    I’m tackling MY closet this week. Nothing survives that I haven’t worn in the last year.


  8. Oddly enough, very few people in my family collected anything. My mother had some beautiful blue delft from her grandparents who came over from Holland but unfortunately none of it is left. I’d love to collect more, especially when I see all your beautiful pictures, Cheryl! It’s very inspiring! Now I just need a bigger house. LOL

    And good luck with your purging, Mary! It feels great when you’re done, but it can be difficult to stick with it. Sometimes I just get in a mood where “everything must go!” and that’s the best time for me to organize.

  9. Cheryl I am one of those Mickey collectors as you know. I have Mickey in everyone room but one and that is my little bathroom upstairs. I also have a problem with candles and candle sticks it seems like you can never have to many. I have books also many but I did organize them when we moved into the new room because I want that room spot-less and everything needs a place in there. I have a million pairs of shoes as my husband says. I have a thousand cross stitch kits how on earth will I ever finish all of them or even open them all up? Like Taryn I love pens have enough to open a store up. LOL
    And I still have my collection of Lions NOT Tigers I have them in the living room some now I still have all the others in a box in the basement. I did part with about 4 truck loads this last Spring but it seems like the basement is still full and I am starting to run out of room again. I wished some days that I didn’t collect anything because it is cleaner and or easier to clean without all the stuff plus when the little ones come over well lets just say I don’t get to sit down. So maybe some day I will let it all go, not anytime soon. I told my husband if something happens to me good luck getting rid of it all.
    Out of my two girls only one really collects and she collects I Love Lucy she probably one has all the stuff because of me. But she will not collect anything else she doesn’t like junk is what she calls it. Shame on her, I remember when they were little and I decorate the chin cabinet for all the holidays well they didn’t want me to for Halloween because I do it in September because it takes so long to set up well both of their birthday’s are then they thought their friends would get mad and say it was stupid well there friends loved it. So I guess I forgot I do collect all the Holiday things I can decorate with for the china cabinet.

  10. Mary, I admire your closet purging. I do have rules about my closets. If a pair of shoes comes in, a pair MUST leave. And that is very difficult, so I’m much more selective about which shoes I buy and in how many colors, because I like the ones I already have so much.

    My office closet looks as though Eric Stromer was here, but alas, it was the dear hubby who build me shelves and cubbies specifically to fit my storage needs. It’s pretty cool. My binder shelf overfloweth.

    I have a few pieces of Delftware, Julie. It is lovely.

    Brenda, Brenda, you make-a-me-laugh. Personally, I think you should do something about that lone Mickey-less bathroom.

    I know what you mean about if something happens to me. I’ve specifically told the kids who care which items are valuable, so they at least won’t rent a Dumpster and trash it all!

  11. My mother collects Euro coins. There are so many different kinds from many countries to collect. And I collect hologram and cat stamps and I think I may have some Lions stamps, too. I also collect recipes, dictionaries, Calvin and Hobbes and Asterix comics and there’s one Disney comic I’m trying to find… And because I don’t like to throw anything away, I have also all this stuff I’d love to get rid of by trading or selling them: all those stamps I don’t want to keep, few pins, pretty phone cards, a box full of romance books in Swedish…

  12. Good idea about telling them which ones are valuable, I think all of it is valuable but I have at least one daughter that would throw it all away she would not want to go to all the work of selling it.

  13. Oh yes forgot about the bathroom I think I will leave it Mickey less there has to one room in the house right??? Well maybe I could change my mind I still need to get you pictures of my room.

  14. Guilty as charged! I, too, am a collector. Items
    collected: carousel horses, sports memorabilia, remnants of a once-larger Beanie Baby collection,
    turtles, eagles, cookbooks, plus a few items which
    keep trying to burst out as collections! Most
    unusual items collected: a section of the Houston
    Rockets/Compaq Center playing floor, a Nolan Ryan
    sports card showing him throwing a football, and a
    replica of the Harris County Domed Stadium AKA
    the “Astrodome.” Newest collections begun: “Junior” autosports items, and author-autographed books!

    Pat Cochran

  15. Minna, the Lion’s stuff my cousin’s husband collects is the football team LOL You definitely have interesting collections!

    Patricia, I think everyone in the US has pitched their Beanie Baby collection. You can’t go to a garage sale withut seeing a full tote or two at every house. What a gimmick that was, huh?

    Hey, I like the autographed book collection. I have a couple shelves of those myself.

  16. I’m a collector, I collect books, fabric, pigs, and thimbles. If you sew at all you will colect fabric. Sometimes I will piece a quilt so you need lots of fabric. I think my son still has every toy that was ever bought for him. He want get rid of them. Now I am running out of room in my atic, What’s a lady to do?

  17. me,me,me. I can’t throw anything away. I do think it has something to do with how you react to things. My mother threw away anything and everything – even my things. But my grandmother who lived with us liked to keep things. My nephew and b-i-l are collectors. And one of my two daughters lol. My best collections are books of course (all keepers), cups, playing cards, tree ornaments. Everything else I know I really shouldn’t like clothes and papers and everything else. I guess they’re my security blanket!

  18. If only I could get rid of some of that stuff I’ve saved… I just don’t want to throw it away, unlike my i***t brothers who took to the dump a spinning-wheel and a 100 years old sewing machine. There’s always someone who collects stuff you don’t need, be that cards, coins, Christmas decorations or sewing machines. Sometimes the problem is -as I have found- finding the people who want the stuff you don’t need.

  19. Hit the wrong key.
    I collect old glassware, I have china from occupied Japan, Hummingbird plates, cups, and sun catchers.
    I also have about 80 coffe cups my boys brought me from around the world(they were in the Navy).
    I have a stash of fabric that would make any quilter drool and boxes of yarn.
    I have moved most of it twice and didn’t even think of getting rid of any of it.

  20. I don’t collect much, but I can’t bear to part with my mini beanie babies which I painstakingly collected by going through the McDonald’s drive-up window again and again. I have a whole set, still in their little bags, and I remain convinced they’re going to make me rich some day.

    Okay, maybe not 100%, but I ain’t gettin’ rid of ’em!

    Beautiful pics in your blog, Cheryl!

  21. Hi, Cheryl

    I collect teapots, carousels, Elephants, and can’t stand the thought of getting rid of a good book.

    I LOVE eeyore.

  22. Jeanne, my mother got rid of my things, too. Perfectly good things. We lived in a teeny weeny little house with no closets, so I can’t really hold it against her!

    Oh my goodness, Minna, you must have wanted to clobber your brothers.

    Estella, I read the first post only and thought it was hilarious that way! Like you showed up at Collectors Anonymous. I would LUV LUV LUV to see your Hummingbird plates. Do you have a picture?

    I hear ya, Pam. I still drive through McDonalds to get the Madame Alexander dolls. Last time I managed to get the whole Wizard of Oz set. :::whew:::

    Ooh, Sherry, another teapot lover! Yes!

    Goodness, the collectors showed up today!

  23. I used to collect teacups and bells but now it’s just teacups. Doilies too but only the ones I make, that way I can hand them down to my kids and call them “heirlooms”. 🙂

    Cheryl, Your collections are beautiful. Your house has never looked cluttered. I wish you lived closer to do all my decorating. I’ve talked my hubby into putting up beadboard and a chair rail in the dining room. We need to get rid of the new house-looks like everyone elses look.

    Great Blog!

  24. Do you do thread crochet, Betsy? Lovely. I have vintage doilies, of course. LOL We put beadboard in our powder room for the cottage look. I have my tin advertsising signs in there. My kitchen is getting a chair rail. I haven’t decided yet on tile or beadboard for behind the counters. Guess I’d better get to thinking about that. Tile is more practical.

  25. What a great topic, Cheryl! I’m a packrat, and I especially love my books. As for the rest, I would love to have less of it, but I have a hard time throwing things away. I feel like so much of it is still useful and I just need to find it the right home. In the meantime it piles up in our house, driving my DH bonkers… 😉

  26. <p>Hi, Fedora! Thanks for stoppin’ by.</p>
    <p>Several of you mentioned hating to get rid of perfectly good things. I found a wonderful solution to that. It’s called Freecycle. This won’t apply to Mary or anyone who isn’t near a city, but if you’re in the city, go to Freecycle. com and then type in the name of your city or nearest city. We have three in our metropolitan area because it’s so big.</p>
    <p>Freecyle is a Yahoo listserv set up with moderators. People post things they want to give away or things that they’re looking for. You choose someone to gift your item/s to and they come and pick it up. I’ve given away clothing, lots of good shoes, toys by the boatload, dishes, all kinds of things. In return I’ve recieved some great stuff myself. I got a Pella door with blinds between the glass – casing and all — that someone had sitting in their garage, never used. My hubby cut a bike door in the side of our garage — a rather fancy one, I might say. I got shutters from a pizza parlor — LOTS of shutters –trampoline springs to replace some that were shot, all kinds of things.</p>
    <p>It’s a lot in mail, in fact right now mine is bouncing because I haven’t checked it, but something to look into if you’re inclined.</p>

  27. Wow, Cheryl—how beautiful!!!!

    I wonder if the “collector” gene skips a generation 🙂 My mom collects angels and drongflies and DISHES…she has so many different sets of charger plates and glass plates in a variety of colors, and china–her cubbards are litterally about the fall from ceiling 😉 Me, I’m lucky to have one set of matching dishware, and figure if it can’t feed me and pay my bills, I likely don’t need it. And if I have to dust it….uh, yah, it’s gotta go 🙂 Though, now that I’m a western author, my mom has started collecting cowboy boots for me–I now have boot vases, salt & pepper shakers, bookends, candle holders…my hubby’s afraid we’re gonna be buried under boots *LOL*. My youngest collects turtles–of which his grandma has bought 80%…the others he buys himself and he keeps them neatly arranged on shelves beside his bed (about the only thing neatly arranged in that room ;-))

  28. Cheryl,
    Not only is it genetic but it grows with each generation in my family. Grandmother: Frugal, Mother: Collector/Pack-Rat Me: Hoarder 🙂

  29. I thread crochet Cheryl. I’ve made two huge round tablecloths for my girls for Christmas last year and one for me. Lots of work but they are beautiful. You can buy the machine made doilies and tablecloths so cheaply that most people don’t appreciate the time and effort it takes with homemade ones. They also last forever unlike the store bought ones.

  30. Stacey, I LOVE your mother. I so GET it that she buys things for other people’s collections, too. I even call people and take pictures to send with my phone to see if someone wants what I just ran across.

    LOL Shannon!

    Oh my goodness, Betsy, here I was picturing little doilies to put under a vase and you’re making tablecloths! I’m in awe. Please send me a photo!

  31. Another collector here! I collect fast food premiums, key chains, tins, bookmarks, magnets, postcards, collector’s plates, anything with cats, anything with crosses, anything with roses, quotes, and what else? I can’t think any more. Oh, and business cards.

  32. I collect everything!Which drives my husband NUTS! I collect clothes.dishes ,lamps..basically household items to give to shelters.My personal collections are green bottles ,shamrocks,postage stamps,(because
    they are interesting not so much for the value) fabric,salt n’ pepper shakers,beads,buttons,baubles and So much more! Post cards, kids drawings,Angels.Sentimental stuff I collect for others.The shamrocks will always be mine since I was born on St. Patrick’s Day!

  33. Thanks for this. I have watched over the last 3 years my two uncles and grandfather’s stuff go into dumpsters and then me dumpster diving for the items I thought were nice. I have saved china plates, my great grandmother’s treadle sewing machine-it works so well-my daughter is learning to sew on it just like my mother and her mother did. The kids in the neighborhood tell me my house is just like a museum only you can touch the stuff. I guess it is. I love history and family and my house is now packed full. I have decided that when my kids are grown and have their own place that I will let them take what they want. My whole childhood I was told, “when I am gone you can have that” Well, most of “that” went into 7 dumpsters over the last 3 years because my relatives saw no value in hiring an estate liquidator. Just watched the newest dumpster show up at Grandpa’s on Saturday-my uncle’s wife said it’s nothing but old junk-well to her it is but the vintage linens, camping gear, porcelain, silver, china, books, furniture and other things would be a treasure to those many of you who wrote here. Thanks again.

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