When you find something, like a piece of china or a baseball card, that you really and truly love, there’s often the urge to find another … and another. Pretty soon, you have a whole collection and you’re scouring yard sales, stores and websites to find yet another piece, buying boxes and building shelves to hold it all, and probably annoying your family with the money you’re spending and the space in the house you’re appropriating.
What they collect
Take the woman who collected 10,000 pairs of salt-and-pepper shakers, not just picking up a pair on vacation every year, but actively seeking out the most unusual shakers she could find and enlisting her husband to build cases in every single room of her home to show them off. As collections go, salt-and-pepper shakers are pretty pedestrian compared to the 1,360 toothbrushes that a Russian man collected, which also landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records, or the 14,502 sugar packets, with the oldest dating back to 1950, collected by someone in Germany. (The sugar collector will probably need to meet the toothbrush collector one day!)
Why they want it
What drives people to collect anything, much less really strange things like toothbrushes, sugar packets or even belly button lint (no kidding!)? It’s been hard for even psychologists to pin it down for certain. For some, it’s about the investment potential, although very few collectors ever sell anything they collect. For others, it’s about the hunt and finding that next perfect addition to their collection. Still others collect pieces because they like the connection to history. There’s also the collector who simply likes to immerse himself or herself in a subject; collectors have been known to spend as much time researching what they’re collecting as collecting it.
Ways to dismantle it
But once you have this mammoth collection of whatnot, it becomes a nightmare when someone has to get rid of some or all of it, whether it’s you when you move to a retirement community or downsize, or your kids when you pass away. Find out now if there’s someone in your family who may be interested in pieces or all of your collection. Also check out eBay or Craigslist, and if you’ve been collecting some sought-after item, there’s a good chance someone else is looking for it too. If you’re having an estate sale, be sure to showcase your collection at the sale. When my stepmother’s mother passed away a few years ago, she brought some of her 500 teddy bears (Did you know teddy bear collectors are know as “archtophiles”?) to the funeral service and suggested people take a bear as a memento of her mom. I thought it was a beautiful tribute.
Share what you collect and what you plan to do with it.