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Collections: Personal Museums

Today I want to pick your brain about collections and collecting things. Do you collect objects, and if so, what do you collect? What do the objects in those collections mean to you?

I opened up my “cabinet of curiosities” to you in past posts. However, this is a bit different. By a collection, I mean a focus on collecting more than one object of the same type.

The people in my family and social circle collect (or have collected) everything from coins to old cookbooks to stamps to bird objects to rooster/chicken objects to depression era glass to coasters to plates.

So what’s in your personal museum? I have had many collections over the years.

Growing up I collected horses. I had about 30 horse statues—that was a lot back then—and many books and pictures and related paraphernalia. The truth is that I loved the representations of horses more than the actual horses themselves, the real horse being more intimidating. I don’t have most of these items from my childhood horse collection anymore, but I have acquired a horse or two (or three) over the years. Apparently horses are symbolic of freedom.

One of my childhood horses I did keep

As I grew up, my collections changed. For a while I collected frogs. Now here’s the thing when people notice that you are collecting something: they start buying it for you as gifts. So I ended up with a lot of frogs. Then I stopped collecting frogs. So now the conundrum: what do I do with all the frogs that I no longer collected? And why, at one point did I desire so much to surround myself with frogs and then later outgrow them? Whatever they represented to me was something I outgrew.

I have also had collections started for me. I was gifted a spoon one year, and for some reason that started a spoon collection. I ended up with a rack for hanging my spoons and several more spoons. For many years I left one space empty, in case someone gifted me another spoon, because I never wanted to start a new rack. Recently I thought that I might as well finish it—most people don’t know about this spoon collection, so who’s going to give me one anymore—and I almost bought another spoon to fill that final space. What stopped me? Well something did, and when I got home I realized that I had already filled that spot with my parents’ special sugar spoon. <Phew> Saved!

The other collection I had started for me was one of eggs. I still remember getting my first egg, from a family friend up in northern Ontario. What do eggs represent? I have read different interpretations: creation, perfection, fertility…This is another collection that I still have, but when my German relatives visited last year, I put them away, and I have never put them out again. Perhaps, since it’s been over a year, it’s something I have also outgrown. Or perhaps I just need to declutter something else to make space for that collection.

I have many other objects that I don’t really consider a collection, such as my teapots, as there are not enough of them to consider them to be a collection. Or maybe it’s just that they are scattered everywhere, and I don’t realize I have enough of them to make a collection, because I have never seen them together. At what point does something officially become a collection? Is there a number? Anyway, I do love tea, and I admit that I always have too many types of tea because I love to try new types. Perhaps I should start inviting more people over to share my tea. Or maybe I should start a tea exchange group, where we could exchange the teas we only wanted to try and then got stuck with, because we really didn’t like them after we tried them.

For a while I collected semi precious stones, but this interest has faded as well. They are still scattered around my house, though, and I do continue to wear them as jewellery. I feel very connected to the earth, and this represents that aspect of it.

Do you collect odd things? One thing I always wondered about is the collection of banana stickers that we have on the back of one of our cupboards, the one that holds our cookbooks. I have no idea who started it, one of my brothers, but which one and why is the question. However, it’s actually neat.

Not all the stickers come from bananas. I can see ones that are from mangoes, oranges, and even spaghetti squash. I also see that in the last few years my daughter has added several, mostly from movie tie ins. It’s interesting to see some of the slogans used over the years, such as “The Perfect Stocking Stuffer” and “The World’s Perfect Food” from Chiquita. I see there’s even one from the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. 

I discovered that our collection is no where near the largest banana sticker collection in the world. That’s over 7000! Apparently there have even been conventions for banana sticker collectors. There’s even a banana label catalogue!

Do you have a collection of objects that is a little bit more odd? Here is a photoessay of some examples, such as pine cones and pop cans, I came across. As well, the video at the top of the post shows some of the stranger collections, including the largest banana sticker collection.

So what’s going to eventually happen to your collection? Are you going to pass it onto someone else? Apparently millennials have no desire to collect things—they prefer instead to collect experiences—so most children are not happy to inherit their parents’ stuff. If you are a millennial reading this, what are your thoughts? I am wondering what will happen to all the photo albums that have accumulated over the years. Do you have photo albums? One of my most precious objects is my childhood photo album, and it is one of the top things on my list when I play the game “if your house was burning, what 10/20 things would you take out of it”. Now with new technology a lot of people collect their photos on their computer or online. I admit that I stopped putting together photo albums. My most recent photos are all on a device, but perhaps I should curate them. They are a big mess! I do have one form of social media where I share photos, and that is Facebook. I accumulate pictures there, and the pictures I accumulate are almost all of my travels, one of my favourite things to do. It makes me happy to see them again when they pop up as memories. It’s even better than my souvenirs, which I rarely look at.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about collections in general but particularly about your own collections and what they mean to you.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2019 Linda Schueler