A Collection Is Born

Posted by Brette in Collecting

map napkinsI’m guilty of having several collections and I just decided to start a new one (shhh – don’t tell my husband!). If you’re a collector, you probably have some interesting stories about how your collections started.

Some collections are inherited. That’s how I became interested in Depression glass. My grandmother collected it and I inherited a lot of it from her. I add a few pieces now and then.

Some collections are gifts. My grandmother started buying me bone china teacups when I was just a child. I’ve honed that collection to be teacups that represent holidays or seasons.

Some collections just start themselves. You realize you have several items that go together. Display them together and they become a collection. This is how we began buying paintings on our trips. Over the years I had purchased a couple just because I liked them. I realized they were a very nice thing to have and a lovely way to remember the trips. Now we try to buy one special painting that depicts the landscape on each trip we take (although we are about to run out of wall space, so I’m not sure if this collection will hit a dead end soon!).  Something similar happened with my sheep collection. I have one sheep I bought as a child in Maine. I stumbled on one in Montreal years ago that I loved and realized if I dug out the original Maine sheep, it was the start of a collection.

Many of my collections begin when I find something I really like. I always ask “What am I going to do with this?” when deciding whether to buy something. I had a moment like this recently when we spent a long weekend in the Adirondacks. In a tiny shop in Keene Valley, I found a vintage-style tea towel with an illustrated map of the Adirondacks. I’ve been hooked on the vintage style map ever since seeing a set of drinking glasses with a vintage map of Yellowstone that I didn’t buy this past summer. I saw this tea towel and fell in love with it, but I asked myself “What am I going to do with this?” I hit on the idea of building a collection of these and using them as quirky dinner napkins. I bought the towel and am now on the hunt for others from other locations we have visited. And thus a collection is born.

Sometimes you start a collection and it peters out. I’ve had a couple of failed collections. I had a few pieces of artisan made glass fruit. I realized after a while that I didn’t really like it. The same thing happened with fortune cookies. I started a collection of some metal ones. They were hard to find and they are all pretty similar, so that collection went to the back of the closet, at least for now. I inherited teaspoons that my grandmother collected on her travels. I’m just not a fan of those, so my mom took them.

How did your collections start?

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6 Responses

  • Sue says:

    Your collections are much nicer than mine. But since you asked . . .

    My frog collection started when I was a kid. I got a stuffed frog for Christmas one year. Then a year later, when I broke my leg, I was given a little get well figurine that was a frog. Then I bought some cute little ceramic frogs that were a quarter each, and suddenly my family decided that frogs were my thing. That was 40 years ago, and the frog collection is upwards of 1000 pieces now, if you include t-shirts, towels, socks, etc. But most of the figurines, posters, etc. are in my office, aka the frog room.

    I have a collection of antique books that started when my mom gave me an old family Bible that my great-grandfather brought with him from Germany and my grandmother gave me some old school books that belonged to my great-grandmother. Most of the books I have are old school books and youth novels, but I have a number of valuable books, too.

    I used to collect postcards, and my friends would send them to me from their travels. I’d hang them up on my cubicle wall at work. Plus I’d buy a bunch whenever I traveled. But that fizzled out when I started working from home and had no where to put the postcards. That started simply because I always like getting mail and I like traveling.

    Now instead of postcards, I buy souvenir pens from everywhere I go. That started because on a trip, I saw one with a frog on it. And I like pens.

    And that’s more than you ever wanted to know about collections. Aren’t you sorry you asked? 🙂

  • Maggi Rasch says:

    So many collections over the years…& I loved them all. It started as a teenager when we summered in Canada. Irish Belleek porcelain pieces that I still proudly display. Just loved how delicate it was. After I read your post I went & checked out my Biscuit Jar…& discovered a $100 bill I stashed months ago & forgot about. Thank you, Brett!!!

  • Maggi Rasch says:

    My more current craze has been Armetale serving pieces. They are heavy & sturdy so I guess I did a 180*!! But because of their weight, I am never afraid to use them & they make a lovely presentation.

  • Brette says:

    I had to Google this since I had never heard of it! They look lovely. I can see why you are into them! Where do you buy them?

  • Brette says:

    LOL! Well, you’re welcome! I like Belleek also. I have a couple pieces of it that I bring out for St. Patrick’s Day.

  • Brette says:

    My mom collects floaty souvenir pens – the ones that have a liquid center with things inside that float and move.

    It sounds like you have a lot of frogs! The antique books are neat. I have a couple that I dug out and put in my new guest bedroom. What will future generations have – antique Kindles?

    Thanks for sharing – it is really interesting to hear how people’s collections get started.