Tag Archives: personal objects

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


Objects Tell a Story, Part 2 or Opening up my Cabinet of Curiosities

Have you ever heard the term “cabinet of curiosity”? Precursors to museums, they were collections of objects, often rare and eclectic, displayed in rooms or cabinets. These objects could be natural or manmade. 

My husband often calls our house “a museum”, so I think a cabinet of curiosity accurately describes my object collection.

Inspired by my last blog post on objects, one of my friends wrote about one of her objects and about generational trauma. It is really a powerful post, and to read it, you can click here.

Also I read an interesting article about how by going to an estate sale, you can build a picture of the deceased through their objects. “And if you remove yourself from the picture, the stuff you surround yourself with tells a story about you. It is a physical autobiography you write by living,” the author notes. To read the full article, click here.

In my last blog post I talked about my family objects. This one is going to be about personal objects instead.

Personal objects are a bit different than family objects, or at least family of origin objects. They have a slightly different meaning, as you bought them yourself or they were gifted to you personally. Sometimes with family objects you have no idea where they came from, and you don’t know the meaning something holds for a person. I discovered the latter if I tried to get rid of something from my father’s collection. “You can’t get rid of that, because…,” he would protest. Well, at least then I would find out the history behind the object

Here are three of my personal objects that have significant meaning to me:

  1. The Wooden Horse

The last time my mom went to her homeland, Germany, before she passed away, she brought me back this wooden horse on wheels. I didn’t think much about it. She simply told me that my uncle, her younger brother, had made it. I only met my uncle a handful of times, and I don’t know much about him, except that he was an accomplished carpenter. She knew that I loved horses, so she must have figured that I would be the best recipient for this particular piece.

The horse took on more meaning when my cousin, my mother’s youngest sister’s son, visited from Germany last summer. I had it on display in the room where his sons were staying. He asked me where I got it. I told him the story, that my mother had brought it back to me from Germany. He told me that it looked exactly like the one he used to play with when he was a boy. In fact, he was sure it was the same one.

Wow! Had he not visited, I would have never known that bit of family history, a piece that connected us even more.

2. The Cat Necklace

When I was dating my future husband, he asked me to pick out something as a gift from him from The Museum store. After considering all the items in the store, I settled on this cat necklace.

He later told me that he was very touched that I had considered his financial situation and picked out the least expensive item in the store. (In fact, he asked me to pick out something else too. And I did, a watch, but I don’t even know if I still have it. It was less meaningful for me.) I don’t think that I was consciously considering his financial situation, but I generally am fairly frugal when it comes to paying for objects, especially when it comes to other people’s money. But let’s face it: I love cats! Yes, that was probably the main motivating factor. Anyway, it still indicated that we were compatible, consciously or not.

I don’t wear this anymore, as it has a little bell in it (and that would prevent me from sneaking up on family members—yes they do complain about it! But please don’t tell them that they could bell Linda with the cat…). The necklace hangs in the living room as a reminder of our early years.

3. The Chinese tea pots

I love drinking tea. I also love tea pots. I collected a few when I lived in China. 

These tea pots are made from special clay. The interesting thing is that they will absorb the flavour of the tea that is made in them, so it is advisable to stick with one type of tea for every teapot.

I have given more than one friend one of these teapots. I also gave one tea pot per table away at my wedding.

These tea pots come in so many different shapes and sizes! The possibilities are endless. Check these ones out. The one in the middle that has a dragon on the front has a phoenix on the back. The dragon and phoenix represent the emperor and empress.

I would love to hear about your personal objects.

Bonus: If you simply cannot get enough of objects and their history, then read further.

I have been skimming the book “A history of the World in 100 objects” by Neil MacGregor. The book describes the significance of certain objects to human history, beginning with 2 000 000 BC up to 2010. I was particularly interested in which object he chose to represent our most recent history.

MacGregor mentioned several objects that had been considered, including an object from Antarctica, a cooking implement, and the smartphone. In the end, a solar-powered lamp was chosen. The lamp was chosen for several reasons. For example, “Solar panels circumvent the need for massively expensive infrastructure…” and “As this low-cost, clean, green technology is made available to greater numbers, it could bring enormous opportunities to the poorest people in the world.”

What do you think? Would you have chosen a different object? 

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2019 Linda Schueler