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Collecting Collecting

Resources for Speakers - Anecdotes About Collecting Collections and Hobbies

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Men and Their Collections

Auckland Airport bought a collection jukeboxes - guy said he had to sell because had no room for any more - mate suggested that if bought another one his wife would leave him, then he could get a single bed, then there'd be room for 3 more down the bedroom wall.

WW2 Rolex

He had ordered the Rolex Speedking direct from the manufacturer under an arrangement whereby Allied officers held prisoner by the Germans were not expected to pay for the watch until after the end of the war. This was a considerable risk for Rolex as there was no guarantee Britain would defeat the Nazis. The watch is being sold with the original letter from Rolex dated February 22, 1943, which states: "Dear Sir, we beg to acknowledge receipt of your order dated 4th August 42, and in accordance with your instruction, we will supply you with .1 Speedking No 4420. This watch costs today in Switzerland Frs 80. But you must not even think of settlement during the war."

Special Lego

A Lego brick has become the most expensive in the world after being sold for 8,000. The 14-carat solid gold brick sparked a bidding frenzy when it was put up for sale on the auction website BrickEnvy, which specialises in Lego. It has the same measurements as a standard Lego brick and can be used with all other sets. Between 1979 and 1981 the gold bricks were given to Lego employees who had worked for 25 years at the company's main factory in Germany.

President James A. Garfield's killer Charles J. Guiteau bought a revolver with an Ivory grip over a cheaper wooden grip because he thought it would look better as a museum piece after the assassination.

Antique Roadshow Collecting

Woman on Antiques Roadshow with folk art birds - about 15 or 20 of them on a display frame - she said she'd called her mother asking if she knew anything more about them and mother had gone Oh you haven't kept those old things have you?" - apparently made by a deaf and dumb craftsman 150 years ago - appraiser said that he had sold inferior birds, individually, for about 7 - 800 dollars - had never seen a flock together on a stand and that probably worth $25000 - he then nearly fainted when she said she had 3 more like it at home

Antique Roadshow Collecting Titanic Memorabilia

Very bad Titanic painting, but on reverse a copy of the menu from the day of sinking

Antique Roadshow Collecting

Guy on AR said his wife had rung him and gone "Come quick, and bring me some money" "How much did she want?" "$15000 - turned out she'd found a garage full of dolls being sold at $100 each - guy had brought in 2 of the 150 dolls to show - 1st one $1000 and second $6-7000 so just those 2 dolls worth half what she'd paid for lot

Antique Roadshow Collecting

Woman on AR brought in garden statue to be valued - naked greek god type of thing - appraiser idly asked which view of him she preferred - "Oh definitely the back. Men do look much better from the back, don't they (pats bum) you know, without the ..."

Collecting Antiques

A glass paperweight has sold for a record price of £42,000 - far beyond its pre-auction estimate of £15,000. The rare, three-dimensional magnum salamander paperweight was bought by a private collector during an auction at Bonhams. It was handcrafted in Pantin, Paris, during 1850-70.

Bust of Nefereti looted from Egypt 90 years ago. Berlin museum refused to give it back. As protest, 2 German students secretly scanned it and released specs on internet, so now anyone can make one.

Stars Collecting

Penelope Cruz has a rather strange collection: coat hangers. She owns more than 500 different types of the organizational tool and the word is that not one of them is metal. Joan Crawford would be so proud.

Stars Collecting

Demi Moore owns so many dolls she has a separate house for them, and in 1996 she insured them with Lloyds of London for $1.5 million pounds.

Barbie Dolls: Not Just For Women

Jian Yang, 33, a media executive in Singapore, told Reuters in September that he was concerned about the diminishing respect the Mattel Corporation is giving Barbie, reducing production in favor of trendier dolls like those modeled after the "Twilight" characters. Yang is apparently protective of his collection of more than 6,000 Barbies that dominate his rowhouse--which he estimates has cost him the equivalent of nearly $400,000 since he took up the obsession at age 13. He said his parents have come to accept his passion but acknowledged that he had a few "ex-girlfriends" who felt "insecure" around his supermodels. Yang also owns about 3,000 non-Barbies and on his last trip to New York, bought 65 more.

Collecting Cocks

Sigudur Hjartarson's life's work is his Phallological Museum in the fishing town of Husavik, Iceland. As the world's only all-penis attraction, it draws tourists by the thousands, eager to see the 276-specimen collection of desicated or stuffed organs from a wide range of animals. However, only in April (15 years after it opened) did the Museum acquire a human penis, donated by the late Pall Arason, an acquaintance who, said Hjartarson, "liked to be in the limelight . . . to be provocative." To an Associated Press reporter inquiring of the "size" of Arason's donation, Hjartarson said only,"You will just have to come and see it."

Cynthia Plastercaster (born Cynthia Albritton on May 24, 1947) is an American artist who gained fame for creating plaster casts of famous persons' erect penises. In college, when her art teacher gave the class an assignment to "plaster cast something solid that could retain its shape", she hit upon the idea casting the temporarily-solid male genitalia, which would then soften and exit the mold. Finding a dental mold-making substance called alginate to be sufficient, she found her first celebrity client in Jimi Hendrix, the first of many to submit to the idea.

Doll House Collecting

Next to a stall selling tiny pseudo-Victorian portraits is a stall selling miniature copies of Hello magazine for £7.50 and miniature pots of Vaseline. After a special request, Platt's Mini Packages started selling tiny packets of sliced bread: "I already sell non-sliced, but this customer wanted sliced", said stall owner Liza Lawrence. It is hard to see what difference a single word on the outside of the 1cm high packet of Hovis could possibly make, considering it's stuffed with toilet roll anyway, but miniature collectors like perfection. "It's all about control," says Charlotte Stokoe, organiser of this year's Kensington Dolls' House Exhibition. "It's about a house with no dirty dishes, that you can control completely, with no kids to mess it up. It's really appealing to a lot of people."

Extreme Collecting

On successive days in January in two towns in Britain, loners in their 70s were reported dead from dehydration in their homes after becoming trapped in monstrous labyrinths of, in one case, hoarded garbage and in the other, hoarded but unopened merchandise. Gordon Stewart, 74, was found dead in a tunnel system he had arranged from several tons of refuse in his house in Broughton, Buckinghamshire, and compulsive shopper Joan Cunnane, 77, was buried under so much merchandise and rubbish that it took rescuers in Heaton Mersey two days to locate her body.

Clever Collecting

A motorbike once owned by Jim Morrison has been unearthed in Los Angeles. The papers for the Honda 305 Scrambler show that in 1968 - a year when his band the Doors were at the height of their fame - it was registered to one James Douglas Morrison, living on Sunset Boulevard. The address matches the one on the Lizard King's driving licence.
The owner of the bike, who had put it up for sale on Craigslist, the online classified ads website, was unaware of the Morrison connection. It was spotted by Dan Ince, who has memorised the vehicle identification numbers of motorcycles once owned by celebrities and combs the small ads looking for them. Ince bought it for an unspecified sum. The bike's rock-star pedigree could bump up its value to $100,000 - well over 10 times the going rate for a 305 Scrambler of that vintage. The Honda, which is being refurbished, will be exhibited at the Pebble Beach motor show in California next month. The weather there is fine and dry - bad news for any driver hoping to become a rider on the storm.

Extreme Collecting

US contest for Most Boring Hobby - 1998 winner a retired schoolteacher who collected caps from vinegar bottles - had over 2000 identical caps from same brand of vinegar

Extreme Collecting

Eccentric Frenchman known only as Crazy Eric, permanently carries 1300 objects around with him - aim simply to be prep for all eventualities - so shaving kit, blow up mattress, spare batteries, change of clothes - originally carried everything in small backpack but got too heavy so designed own clothing with panoply of pockets folds and attachments

You Collect .... Corduroy??

Wearers of corduroy are searching for a child whose 11th birthday falls this Friday, November 11, to be hailed as the Messiah of Corduroy. "We liken it to finding the Dalai Lama," says Miles Rohan, founder of New York's Corduroy Appreciation Club. The club plans a big celebration on Friday, which as 11/11/11 is the date that most resembles the pattern of corduroy (as most of the members probably missed the celebrations of 11/11/1111, we won't point out that Friday is technically 11/11/2011). The club, which has 250 members, meets on January 1 and November 11 each year. Members who attend Friday's special gathering will be expected to wear three items of corduroy, instead of the usual two.

One guy collected store shopping bags - cheap because meant to be thrown away - now he markets his 1/2 million collection as image bank of advertising and nostalgia

The Long Tail concept applies to collectors as well - the Internet allows people to form interest groups for even the most obscure hobbies - for example Melbourne Australia has groups of train and tram spotters, but sub-group of people who just collect timetables. And apparently there is a thriving community of collectors of airline sick bags.

Not trainspotters anymore - now plane spotters, who will gather at airport vantage points to see the first flight of a new model; and richer cousins, who pay up big to get seats on first flights eg Singapore Airlines first flight of new Boeing Dreamliner - some people don't even leave terminal - just want to be on first flight on new route

Also yacht spotters who have websites dedicated to tracking the movements of the world's super-yachts

Former British soldier who paid £20,000 for a 1974 Sabre light tank, which he equipped with rubber treads and uses to go shopping - it costs about £850 to fill up

AFOLs - Adult Fans Of Lego - annual convention in Chicago called Brickland. You don't have to have 1/2 million bricks but you might feel out of place if you don't. Everyone brings their collections of bricks then builds something in hotel ballroom - eg office building complete with guy photocopying his bum

Vice Media located the half-dozen most-dedicated collectors of those AOL giveaway CDs from the Internet's dial-up years ("50 Hours Free!"). Sparky Haufle wrote a definitive AOL-CD collector's guide; Lydia Sloan Cline has 4,000 unique disks; Bustam Halim at one point had 20,000 total, before weeding to 3,000. (The AOL connoisseurs file disks by color, by the hundreds of packaging styles, by number of free hours, and especially by the co-brands--the rare pearls, like AOL's deals with Frisbee and Spider Man. Their collections, said both Halim and Brian Larkin, are simply "beautiful."

Compulsive collectors (of crap) actually have damage to a v small section of prefrontal cortex, with which we normally discriminate between valuable and worthless

Twitchers chasing bird count - Brit twitchers flocked to see a rare breed of swallow that hadn't appeared in Britain for 20 years when a sparrowhawk swooped on it before their eyes

A justification in London Times for bird-watching as a hobby. (He did it from the outside terraces of pubs along the Thames, so at least had his priorities right) Here they are: mallard, pied wagtail, lesser black-backed gull, feral pigeon, swift, black-headed gull, cormorant, crow, wood pigeon, greenfinch. Now you may find all this a bit silly, and perhaps even borderline obsessive. But obsession is not the point: the point is that the wild world enriches our tame world at every point where the two intersect: and if you look for these intersections and work at them with a mild diligence, then your life is, in a small but certain way, enriched.

The bowerbird is only non-human with a hobby: Link

"What was once a gentleman's hobby among a few dozen enthusiasts at the turn of the 20th century, " wrote the New York Times in July, "has evolved into a multimillion dollar industry," namely, collecting strands of hair of famous people. Mastro Auctions of Chicago sells $100,000 worth of hair a year, and in October, a tuft of Che Guevara's went for $119,500 (and John Lennon's recently for $48,000). Westport, Conn., Americana dealer John Reznikoff (who owns strands of Lincoln, Washington, Napoleon, and Beethoven) appraised Britney Spears's locks (after her 2007 head-shaving) at "only" $3,500

Famous London road signs, including those for Abbey Road and Downing Street, could fetch up to 1,000 each at auction. Black aluminium finger signs pointing to landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park are also being sold at Summers Place Auctions in West Sussex, on May 21, as Westminster City Council and Transport for London upgrade their signposting.

Inexplicable: Police in West Vancouver, British Columbia, assured residents in April 2001 that they had stopped a three-year petty-crime spree in an upscale neighborhood when they arrested multimillionaire Eugene Mah, 64, and his son, Avery, 32. Police said the two were responsible for stealing hundreds of their neighbors' downscale knick-knacks, such as garbage cans, lawn decorations, and even municipal recycling boxes, and hiding them at their own luxury home. Mah's Vancouver real estate holdings are reported at about US$13 million, but among the recovered goods were such tacky items as one neighbor's doormat and, subsequently, each of the 14 doormats the neighbor purchased as replacements.

Lighter Collections

Guy in Surfers Paradise, Queensland Australia, who collects jandals/thongs/flip-flops (whatever your country calls them!) off the beach and nails them to his fence - over 4500 of them last count


There is a similar fence near Arrowtown in New Zealand's South Island, but this one features women's bras


A note in the New York Times in October mentioned a website that comprehensively covers everything worth knowing and wondering--about shoelaces. Ian's Shoelace Site shows and discusses (and rates) lacing methods, how to mix lace colors, how to tie (comparing methods, variations, and, again, ratings), lengths of laces (how to calculate, which formulas to use, what to do with excess lengths), "granny knots," aglet repair, and much more--neatly laid out in dozens of foolproof drawings for the shoelace-challenged (because no one wants to be caught in a shoelace faux pas). [Ian's Shoelace Site,]

People With Too Much Money:

The Swiss watchmaker Romain Jerome (which the year before created a watch made from remnants of the Titanic) introduced the "Day&Night" watch, which unfortunately does not provide a reading of the hour or the minute. Though it retails for about $300,000, it only tells whether it is "day" or "night" (using a complex measurement of the earth's gravity). CEO Yvan Arpa said studies show that two-thirds of rich people "don't [use] their watch to tell what time it is," anyway. Anyone can buy a watch that tells time, he told a Reuters reporter, but only a "truly discerning customer" will buy one that doesn't.

Storing Collections

The United States now has 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space. According to the Self Storage Association, one out of every 10 households in the country rents a unit. Across America, from 2000 to 2005, upward of 3,000 self-storage facilities went up every year. Somehow, Americans managed to fill that brand-new empty space. In June, Public Storage, the industry's largest chain, reported that its 2,100 facilities in 38 states were, on average, still about 91 percent full. It raises a simple question: where was all that stuff before?

Storing Collections

Fifty percent of renters were now simply storing what wouldn't fit in their homes, even though the size of the average American house had almost doubled in the previous 50 years, to 2,300 square feet. You say, "I paid $1,000 for this table a couple of years ago. I'm not getting rid of it, or selling it for 10 bucks at a garage sale. That's like throwing away $1,000."

Storing Collections

I heard of a martial-arts instructor in Hawaii who trained clients in his unit, and a group of husbands in New England who watch sports in one on weekends. More than one operator told me they have a unit where, every morning, the renter goes in dressed as a man and comes out as a woman.

Conversation Topic About Collecting

When News of the Weird last mentioned Andy Park, of Melksham, England, in 2002, he was in his eighth straight year of celebrating Christmas every single day of his life, with not only seasonal decorations and cards mailed to himself but a full holiday meal including turkey and champagne. However, as he told the Daily Mail in November, "The credit crunch is getting to me big time," and he has been forced to cut back a bit on the presents he gives himself. Nonetheless, every morning since July 14, 1994, Park continues to arise and open his presents before starting on his full meal and mince pie. He also watches the Queen's Christmas speech on video. Yes, he admits, "People do think I'm [nuts]."

I dunno - I could never make up my mind between Old Masters and Young Mistresses
Beware the hobby that eats - I collect sunsets - they're usually beautiful and they don't have to be dusted.