Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Classification Guide to Modern Collecting. According to Me.



What is it about a good collection? I'm obsessed. 
I prefer to always be tracking something.
I'm only happy when I'm sniffing a needle from a haystack.

I like to think collecting gives structure to my inherent greed.
It feeds my unruly urge to stalk and hunt and bring home a prize. 

For that reason, I find throw-back Granny collections to be most wallet-friendly. My M.O. is to get all handsy with collections that are 1) thriftable 2) inexpensive 3) easily found, but not too easily. 

(Practicality of the collection is a double-edged sword and is both open to interpretation and immune from explanation.)

Among many others, I've had the vintage sprinkler collection and the thrift-store coffee mug collection. But a ledge can only hold so many sprinklers and a lady can only drink so much coffee. (In the case of this lady, the limit is zero cups per lifetime. I hate coffee, but you don't have to hate me back. I take my tea extra-dark and caffeinated, if that's any consolation.)

For reasons unknown to mankind, I've recently stumbled upon an odd assortment of vintage bath towels. I love them so much. I want to wrap myself up in them and parade around like a woman draped in a fine fur.

The main problem is the fact that they're roughly the size of an extra-large hand towel.
(aka, a normal sized hand towel for the claw hands.)

(Are you a newish reader and you don't know about the claw hands? If so, it means I've dropped the ball and I'm truly sorry. It also means it's time for another trip down claw hand lane.)

Here's an important question: How many items are needed to consider something a collection? I'll offer my input. For a while, I just had that one white, floral towel in the middle of the stack. At that point, I just thought it was a cute towel. The end.

Then, I added the violet/green, slightly threadbare towel. At that point, I started to think I should begin a collection.


So when I stumbled on the green towels (4! Matching!) and the blue Greek-key-esque towel, I noticed them. I made them mine. It was meant to be! Serendipity, even! Voila. A collection was born.

The tipping point for collections is obviously a clear three.
And knowing this opens up a whole world of possibilities.

Based on this strict, numeric criterium, I collect clumpy mascaras, striped shirts, soft cheeses, and hotel shampoos.

Winning!

There's just no telling where this towel collection will take me. I'm atwitter.

It's already causing me visceral pain to think of all the towels I've passed up over the years out of sheer ignorance of their awesomeness. By Summer's end, I predict I'll be able to knit a "cozy" for the entire house, an amazing, technicolor dream coat of warmth and protection for the season ahead. I also predict I'll have paid a total sum of $22.

So let it be written.

In parting, I'd like to share a quote from one of my recent reads. I saved it because it reminded me so much of the most important parts of my life, but in hindsight, who's to say vintage towels and twenty-five cent coffee cups aren't among them? I took the liberty of modifying the quote accordingly.


"'Your family collection isn't your choice,' her father had said, to quell a tantrum, many years earlier, and without wanting to, she kept discovering what he had meant." - A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra*

Amen.

What are you collecting right now? What's the strangest collection you've ever happened upon? Can a girl have too many collections? What's the best addition to a collection you've ever had the good fortune of discovering?

Tell me everything.


*Amazon Affiliate link

52 comments:

  1. I don't collect anything. Except books. And not old, vintagey, beautiful books. Just books. Although the budget now requires the library for most of what I read, I do ask for books as gifts. Currently collecting (reading) all books related to Chartlotte Mason style learning (because I am that nerdy mom).

    I did not come from a home where my mom collected or decorated, and therefore I feel at a complete loss in knowing what I would even want to collect or use in my home to make it homey.

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  2. The violet/green towel? Awesomeness. Love it! Currently I'm not actively collecting anything. Dust bunnies? Muddy cleats? Shout bottles? Obvs I need an intervention. Thanks for the inspiration! xo

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  3. I share your collecting disease. In fact it's terminal. I collect Sunday school offering banks. My best one is a cast iron cross that says "He gave, so we give. There are building fund and missionary ones. I haven't found a new one in a couple of years...but I'm always looking. Bargain old hankies. Buttons. Old Bible Story books. Jelly jar glasses. Old office supplies pencil sharpeners, rulers, a wooden paper cutter those are one only and for use. I'll stop now. I have great envy for your sprinklers.

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    Replies
    1. Your banks sound lovely. I too collected vintage hankies after seeing a quilt coverlet in a magazine years ago. :)

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    2. I'm officially pining for a church bank collection.
      I've never even heard of such a thing!

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    3. Me either! I love that...Collection Banks. Who knew?

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  4. Oh my...you are talking to a sentimental saver right here! One time I went to an estate sale and bought a shoe box filled with tiny bottles and bitty resealable bags of seeds saved over the years from her garden, poppies and columbine, even little tiny seeds from a strawberry...not sure you can grow them that way...anyway for $2 I couldn't walk away from what was once this woman's treasure. I have collected too too too many things. I have wooden bowls that both my Dad and his friend turned and gave me as gifts, plus a few thrifted smaller ones, vintage tablecloths and various linens, tea cups, plates, it appears I have an afghan collection unintentionally ha!, books. Bird nests, shells, in my defense I went to school for Early Childhood Education (where they train to you save everything! lol). Like you, I like the unique what not and the thrill of thrift. Truly though, I am in the process of letting go.

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    1. It's so hard to toe the line between letting go and...hoarding? Is that the right word for our affliction? :)
      But I find that I let go and then add, and then do it all over again. These are simple pleasures, and I have to see them as a good thing.

      I would have scooped that box of seeds STRAIGHT UP! You did good, Lady!

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    2. Um, yeah, sometimes...
      My daughter asked one time "Are we Clean House or Hoarders?" lol "Um Clean House honey, Clean House!" (you know the show with Niecy Nash?..."Take me to your foolishness!" :)

      Idols of the heart can definitely swing the gamut, stuff...minimalism...stuff. I want to love Jesus the most. And I really like what you said in a comment to someone that you are trying to hold loosely to things. That is wise.

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  5. When I look at your towels I smell my Nana's linen closet. That is a special, good smell. Not at all moth-bally. Being wrapped in her towels or blankets felt like a hug. I miss my Nana...

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  6. I collect old metal trays and wooden drink crates. The wooden crates are my favorite - I use them for books on our coffee table, plants outside, and spices in my kitchen! And they're so cute to put drinks, napkins, and utensils in for a party. I just talked myself into buying more. :)

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  7. I only collect things that are useful, never dust-catching decor items (I hate dusting). I have a small collection of silver napkin rings (my favorite ones have other people's initials or names on them!) and I seem to have a problem with thrifted trays (wood, metal, wicker, you name it!). I paint the trays and use them all over the house. My daughter will graduate from college in May, so I can officially buy thrift items...for her :) I love your cool vintage towels! The old ones are softer and broken in. By the way, I just started A Constellation on your recommendation.

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  8. I feel you should know I have a small collection of Sunfire Teen romance paperback books. I read them in secret from the public library as a middle schooler, thinking they were so Adult, a few years ago, I saw them on ebay and ordered it and compared to what I currently read they are quite conservative. They all have the girls name as the title for instance "Roxanne" and the girl is coming of age, usually during a very well know historical time period or event and must choose between to romantic interest. They are still so enjoyable to me, I plan on continuing my collection and then handing them on to my daughters someday.

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    1. Listen, Sister. I used to be an avid reader of 'Teen magazine and saved EVERY issue. Then I went to college under the assumption that my mom wouldn't throw ALL of my *treasures* away.

      Alas, she tossed them. So I bought a "lot" of mags, making sure they were the same ones I owned, and they live in the basement until Ruby is at least 15. :)

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  9. I have been collecting afghans. Gorgeous crocheted afghans. The love and patience it takes to make those is overwhelming to me. I found a full size red one which
    decorates the top of my sons bed. Ive found them at thrift stores for 1.oo and smaller ones for .25 cents. Tupperware. Old original tupperware. Ive been blessed lately to find old furniture and have a friend help me refurbish. A solid walnut console dresser with a hand carved metal in the center and the 2 leaves make the handles. One personal collection ive had for years is hymnals. I have one from our family pioneer church in White , Nebraska. Pioneer hymnals and i have some hymn sheets from the 1800s. I can close my eyes and imagine whose signing.

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  10. For a while, my kids were collecting care bears. It was actually fun hunting for them. I am presently collecting Happy Birthday mugs.

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    1. This feels like the right time to add that one of my local dearest collects vintage church plates for her actual dinner plates. You know the ones...with the picture of the building etched on the front and a commemorative year. Genius!

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  11. I think there is an aspect of spiritual gifts to collecting or noticing things. Seriously. The gifts of helps, mercy and encouragement all are about "noticing" things. We're all called to do those things but there certainly are people who contribute to the body with those specific gifts. Scripture says "a hand will act like a hand." of course there's balance to all parts of life. But there is a joy in noticing. Be it the perfect old sprinkler or the person at church who needs a hug or a meal. And I love love love finding collectibles that I know are perfect for a friend.

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  12. too many collections?! never.
    and you know i am going to find you some rad dish towels now!
    i came across an evtire collection of small state plates at our thrift store. like... 15 little saucer size state plates. super ugly. but i couldn't leave them there! i mean.. it was a whole collection. so now they are mine.
    ha ha ha

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  13. Those towels remind me of the ones that my grandmother used to have!

    When I was around 11 I collected paper napkins. Colorful, pretty, and funny ones from birthday parties, cocktail parties, sometimes from restaurants with logos. I knew that it was weird and didn't tell anyone about it. I found them last summer and my 11yo daughter was so excited and took them. We were just talking about them tonight as we were at a friend's house, and she had some cool polka-dot/striped ones. My daughter brought one home.

    Just recently discovered your blog and love it.
    Thank you.

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  14. I like a nice collection of throw blankets, but how many does a girl need? Seriously!

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  15. When I was little I collected Lip Smackers chapsticks. I had 68? And I would put a dot of each one on sometimes (it took awhile). Peanut butter smelled the WORST and watermelon had this weird gritty texture. Then there were the glittery ones...

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  16. About 10 yrs. ago my Dad bought me a cookie jar that I loved! He saw the "delight" and so that became his thing...buying me cookie jars. He would bring me a box here and there full of cookie jars and then other family members added to the collection. Within 2 years I had 98 cookie jars! NINETY-EIGHT. I had a large wall lined with shelves that I stored the majority of them on and one night a strong storm started up, a couple loud thunder booms and bam, down crash the cookie jars! I just laid in our bed for a moment then started the massive clean-up job. As of today, I do not own one cookie jar nor do I want to ...

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    1. This story. I mean, it was like a movie!
      You told it well.
      RIP, cookie jars.

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  17. You are so funny! This had me laughing out loud as I sit here nursing my baby! I'm with ya on the collection philosophy. For me it's vintage thermoses, Irish coffee mugs and 60's gold wall art. Love your blog!

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  18. Bowls, milk jugs, blue and white dishes of any kind. Annnd, I hate coffee too!
    xo

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  19. I have a friend who tells me that, "Two is a coincidence. Three is a collection." So I think you hit it right on the head. I collect books. Lovely beautiful books. Books. Books. Books. Oh, and pink depression glass and mixing bowls and kids. I like the last collection the best :)

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  20. Bluebirds of Happiness. . .old ones (they have dates on the bottom). . I do not want to buy one in Hallmark. Plus I want to find them at antique shops, estate sales, yard sales for about $1. .not the $15 at Hallmark. These are turquoise blue glass birds. . my grandmother had 2 at her house when I was little. When she died, I got them. Then I found one at a yard sale to make my third. . and thus started my collection. I have 16 now. . here's a picture of them in my living room when I only had 10: http://www.susoutter.com/2011/08/my-colorful-gypsy-chandelier.html Sweet blog post.. thanks.

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    1. Love your collection and your colorful home!

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  21. I just wrote a post about some of my collections. I collect everything ( lol) according to hubby . I love vintage goodness but I also am a beauty junkie so now I have a beauty collection !!!! My kids love my vintage Santa collection .my favorite is my vintage tea cup collection and don't get me started on my chandeliers, lol!!!! Oh yeah my family just reminded me of my religious statues collection

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  22. I've been accused of collecting kids, but it was by mean people. : - )

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  23. I am a collector of too many things. I don't have one large collection of anything, but many small collections. These include teacups, vintage cow figurines (from my granddad), music boxes, and tons of things from my childhood. It's a problem...

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  24. You just make my heart smile!

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  25. I collect vintage Santa mugs. All of them have come from Goodwill, Salvation Army, and yard sales. I have about 25. They are perfect for this minimalist clutterphobe because they are packed away for 11 months of the year and we all enjoy them for the month of December! And they are FUN FUN FUN!

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  26. Postcards, things with birds (plates, decorations, jewelry), little containers (jars, tins, bowls), wooden elephant statues from Africa (if anyone I know takes a trip I ask to have one brought back).

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  27. i'm thinking my grandma had those very green towels at her house when i was growing up - so now i love you even more! ~ beauteous finds. love the fact that something doesn't have to make sense to be special to us. it just is, so it is!! and speaking of collections - based on the looks of my kitchen counter right now you'd say it was m&m's. but they were on sale at target and i was just in the states {transplanted to canada} and their chocolate taste different there - better!!! and the pastel easter colors are my favorite ones. so i bought nearly every bag and now.. for the short weeks they last, based on your definition of what a collection is - i'm collecting them!!!! ; )))

    fun, fun post!

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  28. Antique thimbles are my thing. I have several from my aunts, grandmas, great-grandmas, my husband's grandmas, etc. They were all sewers and many of them have long passed. But I love thinking about those wonderful ladies using them, creating new things and stitching old things back together. Yes, I get a little weepy over the thimbles.

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  29. I collect (hoard) vintage Christmas stuff like its going out of style. My favorites are the little hot pink, blue, green, or white houses with old mica glitter from my putz Christmas village. Love them!

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  30. I collect vintage cameras, old metal chairs and anything with birds on them

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  31. I collect vintage cameras, old metal chairs and anything with birds on them

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  32. Considering I am a minimalist at heart (no, really, I am), I fight my collecting urges all the time. I collect jadeite dishware, ironstone dishware, jugs (particularly japanese porcelain), glass/crystal candlesticks, side tables, picture frames, embroidered linens... Gak, no wonder I am constantly purging as well. :)

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  33. Are you finding these vintage towels just at thrift stores? I look for them but never seem to find any. I love your collection! I collect vintage globes, afghans, old wooden chairs, and at the moment, any white dinner plate. Our dinnerware someone purchased for us as a wedding gift from Pier 1 started breaking like crazy and it's only been 6 years. So i decided to start looking for all white, mismatched dinnerware. So far it's been so fun!

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