I’m not sure what it is about the human condition that compels someone to collect things. Maybe it’s a need to connect to the past; maybe it’s for aesthetics or an outward display of personality; it might even be the need to fulfill childhood desires that were never realized. It could also simply be showing an interest in something appealing. Most likely however, it’s a combination of one or more of these reasons. Although I collect many things, I don’t consider myself a hoarder – hoarding is the excessive acquisition of items and the failure to use or discard the items. I just have a lot of interests, so finding space for things can be a challenge. These are the types of things I collect:
Glass floats and nautical-themed items. When I was a teenager, my great grandfather was killed in an accident. When it came time to settle his estate, the relatives all bickered over who should get what, since there was no will. Despondent at the loss of my great grandfather and the bickering, I sat on the curb in front of the house, unsure of why I had come. My grandfather brought out a box. “These are things nobody wants,” he said. “Why don’t you look through it and see if there’s anything you’d like.” I did, and found some nice Japanese glass floats in macrame hangers that my great grandmother had made. Though those floats were destroyed by my brothers when I later went off to the military, to this day glass floats and other nautical items remind me of my great grandfather, as well as speaking to the Pisces within me. Living only a couple of hours from the Pacific Ocean gives me lots of opportunities to acquire these…some are the size of a silver dollar, while I have some that are over a foot in diameter.
The second thing I began collecting was Snoopy/Peanuts items. After I had left the military, my friend Kelly encouraged me to find collect something I liked, and I had like Peanuts as a kid. Before there was eBay, the only way to really find stuff was in Goodwill or yard sales. I began buying up lots of Peanuts gear over the years, but have since scaled back the collection…I now only buy a few statues and figurines a year. Last year I took 4 boxes of stuff to Goodwill to thin out the collection.
Beer Tap Handles (also called tap markers or pulls). Many tap handles are plain, made of wood or resin with a label. At a garage sale one day, I picked up a Coors Beer Wolf tap handle, and a collection was born. I try to focus on figural taps, although I have bought a few just for the label. Sometimes I buy group purchases of tap handles, and I have no problem getting rid of ones that don’t suit my tastes. I have a tap handle blog, where I take pictures of each tap and provide some history about the brewery, as well as eBay price info. You can find that blog at www.beertaps.blogspot.com.
Old radios. I admit I’m a sucker for old radios, with their glowing faces, glowing tubes, and gorgeous art deco mahogany or cherry cabinets. I’ll also throw Victrola and Edison cabinets in the category as well. If they need a little bit of work, that’s okay, I enjoy that too. One of my Victrola cabinets is from my grandmother, and one of my radios is from my dad, which gives them sentimental value.
Board Games. I like them, all kinds – from classic games with a themed twist – like Star Wars Life – to cthulu-based horror games like Arkham Horror – to obscure and rare games like Voice of the Mummy (it talks!). I don’t know why I’m so fascinated with them, more so than card games or video games…I just am.
Fantasy-based Statues. These range from Lord of the Rings and Narnia pieces produced by Weta, to Magic the Gathering statues by Randy Bowen, to Disney-produced Indiana Jones items (based on the Temple of the Forbidden Eye in Disneyland), to Red Sonja. I find that surrounding myself with these items provides mood and theme when I’m writing.
Steampunk. I love Steampunk gadgets and devices, and I’m building a Steampunk time machine. I have only a few Steampunk pieces so far – a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea waterglobe from Disney, as well as some brass navigational pieces.
That gives you glimpse into my various collections. Sometime later this year I’ll post more extensive pictures of the collection…