Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Collect Things

I have collections. I collect hats, and handbags. I collect buttons, and vintage stocking packages, and kitsch midcentury plastic brooches. And old suitcases (to store my collections in!) and 1940s & 50s magazines. And postcards, and photos, and papers.

And it occurred to me just now, as I sifted through my case of ephemera, that essentially, I collect other people's memories. Tiny pieces of ordinary people's ordinary lives - people I never knew. I collect the theatre programmes and bus tickets and film wallets and paper coasters and cigarette cards and tourist maps and handwritten notes and purchase receipts and greetings cards that, once, someone decided not to throw away. I collect the adventures their luggage accompanied them on (my favourite suitcase - the one on top of my wardrobe, covered with faded and flaking labels - went to San Francisco, and Hawaii, and Japan, and Australia). I collect the smiles bound up in the cheap costume jewellery kept for its sentimental value, and the potential of the buttons bought for sewing projects perhaps imagined but never started. I collect the walks in the park, and weddings, and days out, and shopping trips that the handbags and hats and gloves were worn for.

It's not just "stuff".


  1. Hey there.
    It's been a while.. nice to "see" you're back.
    I collect colorful paper napkins, and buttons.. and I honestly believe there's nothing wrong with it. :D
    My aunt collected old Movie Theater programs, and never picked up the box when she moved away - so, I guess I inherited that too. :)


  2. Both my husband and I collect stuff too - him USAAF and me hats, clothes, magazines bags shoes and jewellery all from the 40's, along with china, vintage glasses, and pictures - we need a bigger house???

  3. I love thinking about the past lives of my vintage items. I also love when you come across things by surprise. I recently found a letter inside a vintage handbag and it was lovely thinking about the person who had owned it and knowing more about them. I've also found sheet music inside a vintage chest of drawers and a 1930s wedding invitation inside a desk. As well as bus tickets tucked into magazines. Thats what I love about vintage every little thing tells a story.
    Your collection looks lovely. xxx

  4. I am the same! I am happy to part with my cash to "save" - as I see it - someone elses treasured memories. These things must have meant something to someone at some point and I like to think that I am the custodian of the items I collect.

  5. You are so absolutely right, I am just the same. :)

  6. Me too! I also collect vintage paper ephemera, stamps, coins, old books etc., although not so much of late. :( I agree, the history behind the object - and being a custodian of that history - is half the attraction! Something I have a job convincing the rest of my family of when they look askance at my collections of "old junk that no-one wants any more", tell me to stop "looking towards the past" and subtley suggest that if I carry on I'll likely end my days as some hermit-like crank lying crushed and undiscovered beneath a fallen tower of papers(!).

  7. This put the biggest smile on my face <3 <3

  8. Eloquently, beautifully written post. I too have frequently felt this way, too, and feel both humbled and joyful to be able to cherish and keep elements of some peoples' lives and memories alive. There is no greater joy for me than being able to preserve the past in any capacity, and collecting certainly qualifies, in the most tangible of ways, there.

    ♥ Jessica

  9. How lovely, I couldn't have put it better. Part of the joy of my collections for me is thinking about who might have owned them previously and what they may have done or seen. I collect old wedding photographs, buttons, embroidered tablecloths, cake plates, interesting old books, hankies and knitting patterns. I see them as treasure, my husband thinks it is a "load of old tat"!


I'd love to hear your thoughts!


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