You receive ceramic owls for every birthday and Christmas. You’ve become known for your affinity for cacti or your multiple shelves dedicated to your framed butterfly displays. If this describes your penchant for possessing particulars, you may be a collector. Whether it’s a hobby or a full-blown obsession, collections can extend beyond the everyday items to the weird and sometimes wonderful.
The psychology behind collecting is varied and interesting. For some, it’s a demonstration of loyalty, for others, it’s about the honour behind finding a rare item. Delving deeper, we may perceive that the items take on the spirit of the people who once owned them. At it’s most affirming, collecting can be an existential exercise with the sense that we live on indefinitely through our possessions.
If you are a collector, you’re not alone. Statistics show that about a third of the UK population collect something. There are the popular objects like stamps, bottles, cards, dolls or comics and there’s a whole other kettle of quirky.
To kick-off with a timely theme, a woman called ‘Pikabellechu’ has the world’s biggest Pokémon collection – with a figurine of every single beast – that’s whole lot of fictional creatures. Like most collectors, she says she doesn’t just ‘have’ a collection, she ‘lives’ it. If you’ve ever been to a cafe and found yourself subtly putting a handful of sugar packets in your handbag, you may have the beginnings of a collection to rival sucrologist Phil Miller who began stockpiling sugar sachets in 1978.
While these collections may not fall into the category of your run-of-the-mill stamp fan, they’ve by no means even touched on the stratospherically strange. I’m willing to bet that when you eat a banana, you peel off that little oval sticker and throw it away. No so for a former greengrocer who’s built up a collection 30,000 stickers strong. Sadly, a recent ruling that stickers can now be replaced by laser tattoos means this collector’s days may soon be over.
If you’re a traveller or an accommodation afficionado, you might consider taking on the world’s largest collector of ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs. A Swiss accountant first began his collection after spotting a spelling mistake on one hotel sign. Today, his collection boasts 11,111 items from all around the globe. In fact, the collector often changes hotel mid holiday with the intent of adding to his collection.
Collections can inspire, confound and create community – so, if you’re passionate about plastic penguins and your ‘fascination’ has gotten the better of you, it might be time to call it a collection and store it with Grace.