Monday, 13 April 2015

Choosing to collect.

I love collections.

I know people who collect frog things, owl things, cat things, odd coffee mugs, souvenir spoons, buttons, cook books, stamps, patches, garden gnomes - almost everything you can think of. And this is not just a female thing - men will collect everything from beer mats to cars.  People enjoy their collections, which satisfy personal needs and help with bonding to family and friends. If you are a collector of post cards you are more likely to receive one from Aunty Val when she goes to Fiji, because she sees them in the gift shop and immediately thinks of you. She might also buy an owl figurine and a snow globe for the cousins who collect those.

I think to be a collector you must have a streak of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).  I have a touch  of that - if symptoms are matching the pegs colours on the washing line, unease that books in a series can't be shelved by height AND author and resorting my button box annually ... size or colour or shape is the big question.  It's just one box.

The experts say people collect for emotional value, not financial. Collecting can provide us with a sense of security, help us cope with anxiety or connect with a person or time that is important to us.  Savage collecting can be a hunt, a quest - a never ending pursuit.  This does not include people who collect to resell for profit, that is business, or hoarders, which I am often called. Hoarders will hang onto anything, empty cat food tins, newspapers, string (well string is good to keep), but not items to treasure or display - and so not really a collection.

And collections do not include stashes for hobbies - piles of fabric, boxes of thread and ribbon or stacks of wood and containers of nails and fixings needed by quilters, wood carvers, toy makers, crafters and artists.  So, my fabric stash is not a collection.

I was given a stamp album when I was about 10 years old. Even in those days I didn't get many letters and had to buy stamps to put in the book until the great aunties cottoned on and started sending me envelopes of their used stamps, but so many were the same and then I found you really should research the different countries and mount the stamps by issue date ... and it just wasn't my thing, at that age. I still find it hard to throw a stamp away, so I cut it carefully from the envelope and slip it into a box to keep, until I find a charity that uses them. That leaves me free to resort the button box.

I started a collection of small dolls when I was about 12 and by my late 30's I had 70 dolls from all over the world - representing over 50 countries. I didn't travel, but other people did and it gave them the idea of bringing home a doll for me and some of the dolls I had dressed myself.

When I reached the point of packing a house and three children to move interstate, I had to shed some things. The dolls represented a carton to carry and my daughter was not a doll person so ...  

I presented my collection to the library of the Primary School my children had attended. The librarian ...ummed and ...arred and obviously didn't want them - how could she not want them, they were lovely and all came from different parts of the world.  I just left the dolls and walked away and tried not to wonder what became of them.

The world is full of beautiful things I would like to collect including, but not limited to, children's books, modern art, period costumes, chairs, tote bags, small decorative containers, rag dolls, and pottery.  Collecting is time consuming and expensive. I had to make a decision to avoid collecting. 

Years after the big move, and a few smaller moves and children growing up and away, I found the Matryoshka doll my mother bought back from Germany in 1974.  It was the one small doll I kept from the box donated to the library.  I've always loved these Russian nesting dolls and really wished I knew more about them. So, I'd found something I could collect and research and treasure and display - something people could identify with me or have in common with me.   

Google brought a whole cyber world of information and history and on-line Matryoshka shops to browse and Babushka kitsch to buy. Some Matryoshkas are signed by the artists who painted them, some are made with stick on faces. The prices vary from about $10 up to $100s for dolls that are works of art.  I now have a collection of doll sets that I love, dolls I've bought on special occasions, some imported from Russian, some bought by family and friends travelling overseas and one special set made by a lovely friend.

Beside the dolls is another collection of related items that are not dolls, including salt and pepper shakers, measuring cups, egg poachers, drinking glasses, coffee mugs, storage boxes, canisters, nail files, scissors, wrapping paper, gift bags, tea towels, fabric pieces, sew on patches, soft toys, key rings, lip gloss holders and more  - the world has gone mad over Russian Matryoshka, aka Babushka, nesting doll stuff - and I am happy about that - because I collect them.


And, this is another Russian Doll,
for anyone who remembers  ........


  1. I loved reading this. I confess that I am a hoarder and a collector. I collect Australian stamps and zebra things. I find it really hard to throw things away that I know could be so useful at some time in the future. Lynette

  2. From Debra - I also have many collections but at the moment they come in handy for sharing with the kids and using in my teaching. When I finish teaching I am sure I will find another reason to hang on to them...


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