Monday, 10 January 2011

Collecting: sussed

Just before Christmas work was crazy. Then on one busy day I received an e-mail that was so unexpected that it pierced through the craziness like a laser and filled me with absolute joy.

The e-mail was from a Spanish gentleman and, in endearing broken English, he politely asked whether I might be kind enough to send him a pen. But not any old pen - it had to be a Guardian-branded pen. You see, this chap collects pens, but *only* if the pen is branded with some kind of publishing-related logo. You can check out his dedication for yourself on his meticulously-organised website, where he displays photos of every pen he possesses by country.

I dutifully popped a pen in the post, and forgot about it until this very day, when he e-mailed me to let me know that my pen had been received, logged, categorised, photographed and uploaded to his ever-growing 'Inglaterra' category. I felt strangely proud, and his pen-aticism got me thinking about the notion of 'collecting', and what drives people to do it.

I've never been much of a collector. The only time I can recall ever collecting anything was a couple of hundred or so badges, but that was only so I could get my collectors' badge at Brownies. I detest clutter, get a weird sense of satisfaction whenever I throw something away and I offload my unnecessary yet usable possessions to enthusiastic recipients on Freecycle as often as I can.

However, on the other HAND, I must confess a strange urge which I have so far kept at bay: to keep a log of all the hand dryers I have ever used in my life, and to create the definitive list of ALL hand dryers. You see, collecting actual hand dryers would be a bit OTT, and indeed HOTT. But over the years it has always astounded me how SO MANY brands and makes of hand dryers are out there (this Flickr group is great). So many, in fact, that I often wish that I had started to jot down the makes and models in some kind of book when the seed was first planted in my strange, warped mind. But I didn't, and now it's too late to start, surely? 

Flickr image - Amy Watts
I realise this is a bit of a niche area to TAP into, but I think - when it comes to collections - the more specific the better. That's why I admire our pen-collecting friend, because it has to be a certain TYPE of pen.

If you do a Google search for 'weird collections' a lot of eerie stuff comes up, most notably the dude who has collected all of his belly button fluff and stored it in jars, by decade. But there are also some pretty neat (and by this I mean both cool AND organised) collections out there.

Isn't it just wonderful how the world seems to balance itself out in terms of those of us who hate clutter, and those of us who thrive on it, and that Freecycle allows us all to co-exist in perfect harmony....

If you're still reading, I applaud you. How about you? Do you collect anything weird, or do you know anyone that does?


Siany said...

When I was a kid, about 10-11 I think, I collected antique embroidered silk postcards. Seriously. Mostly Spanish ones, with the Flamenco dresses embroidered in silk, but I have a fair few of those (90, maybe? Not bad on little girl pocket money), some over 100 years old now. I still look through the silks section if I walk by a postcard stall in a market. Can't help it.

The most I ever paid for one was £28 (all of my birthday money), it's from the 1930s, embroidered in gold thread and it's so very beautiful. And probably worth a heck of a lot more 18 years on.

I just thought they were pretty one day, and bought a couple. And that's how it starts.

hayjane said...

Aww, fab. Have you ever thought about getting them valued? Or are they too precious to sell?

Siany said...

I have thought about it (every January since going freelance and doing my tax return, ahem). But I love them. I'd like an heirloom to pass down to someone.

I'm also excited to get them out again because I'm curious about the messages written on them now - I didn't much care when I was 11, but I want to read what people were writing about seventy years ago.

Amy Watts said...

Thanks for using my picture - you should visit that hand drier if you're ever in Edinburgh.