A retired business owner, my passions are cooking, photography and eating. I use all three of these when I write for recipeyum.com.au which is on HubGarden
Published October 31st 2016
COLLECTING For a person who has never collected in their life, some collectors would appear to be hoarders.
Vintage hunting dog salt and pepper shakers
There is a huge difference, however, as most people who hoard will save anything and everything, even things that are totally useless, broken and have no value or visual beauty.
The following clip is made by a hoarder herself:
And this clip is from the daughter of a hoarder and is quite sad:
But to the sincere collector, there are often several things he/she will collect, and for me, as a past collector, my motto was "if I cannot display it and look at it every day, then I will not collect it".
This makes perfect sense to me, as why collect an item, whether it be valuable, rare, or beautiful if you are going to keep it in a box in a spare room. There is no point having it, if you cannot enjoy it all the time.
Collecting, for me, started as a hobby when I first retired at a young age and went on Ebay to buy and sell items. Through this, I met my first "cyber" friend who bought something from me.
I was selling odd things I would pick up at garage sales and swap meets and my new friend told me to look out for salt and pepper shakers as they were "hot" at the moment.
By pure chance, I then bought a collection of old salt and pepper shakers and was doing extremely well at selling them on auction. After a while, I realised that some of them were exquisite and made with such intricate detail, and there started my collecting days.
BUTTONS My friend in America was an avid button collector!
Buttons I asked! How can you collect these? Then she sent me photos and I was awe struck by the exotic, intricate designs, materials and different shapes of antique buttons.
I had never seen anything like these, so my hunt began for old buttons. This led me to markets all round Perth, however, there was not a lot of buttons to be found until one day I went into an antique store and found some gorgeous old buttons.
This led me to have a lengthy conversation with the stall owner who also collected old buttons.
Different glass buttons
What a surprise - someone else collected these "strange" things! After a few visits, we decided to start a Perth Button Club which the lady ran as she knew far more than me about buttons.
Vintage Face buttons
I was not so interested in the history of them as in their beauty and the workmanship that would have gone into making them.
Gay Nineties or Jewel buttons
I learnt about the different types of buttons that were made through the ages and these included:
Paintings under glass
Mother of Pearl
Gay Nineties (Jewel)
Brass picture buttons
Realistics and many more
I started off with glass, as these seemed the easiest to find in Perth. However, I was very envious of the photos my friends (plural by now) were sending me of their gorgeous buttons.
Various types of insect buttons
Therein started my next adventure - a trip to the U.S. to a "Button Convention". Each year there is one big button convention and people from all the clubs throughout America attend this, both to buy and/or to sell their buttons.
My dream was to find a big jar full of buttons and go through them looking for the good ones. My dream quickly came to fruition as the second night there, I won a huge glass jar of buttons.
I greedily took them to my room, followed by a band of laughing ladies who were aware of my dream and wanted to watch me. I thought I had died and gone to heaven as I sat on this large hotel bed and scattered the buttons around me. Needless to say, the Americans were quite fascinated by me, as to them, it was no big deal as very old buttons were freely available everywhere.
The first day I was so awestruck that I just stood in the huge hall and stared at the hundreds of sellers each with boxes upon boxes of carded old buttons, the likes of which I could not have imagined. I could do nothing for a few hours and then I went berserk with my original online friend helping. I bought, and bought, and bought.
People also sold buttons from their room
There were hundreds of the rarest buttons, some of which were $80 US each at the time, but I was not deterred - I had a credit card! At that stage, I did not know which ones to focus on, so I focused on anything I liked and ended up with hundreds.
I went on to go to another smaller Button Convention a few years later, but by then I had already moved on slightly.
SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS
My next "craze" was as my friend suggested, salt and pepper shakers. After selling some at extremely high prices on Ebay, I realised how fascinating some of these were and how much they were worth!
Vintage Camel salt and pepper shakers
I had no trouble finding these little vintage ornaments in Perth, and soon had built up a nice collection.
Japanese one piece dog salt and pepper shakers
They were popular with buyers from the US as the ones we got here were mainly English and quite rare for over there. Once again, I made some friends who collected these some had dedicated rooms full of them. I was a small collector having but a few thousand in the end, whereas some of my internet buddies had up to 10,000 different ones.
In this area, I eventually decided to concentrate on old German ones, bellboys, black Americana, dogs, nodders, Amish, people sitting on wooden benches, camels and rare ones.
Goebel German Salt & Pepper shakers on a tray
Of course, I strayed sometimes and got things that were not in these categories, but it is fun looking for items and a great adrenalin rush when you find them.
I have a few teapots!
I soon set up display of these around the house by buying cupboards and old display shelves and these were called by my then partner, my "junk"" (though when we divorced, they suddenly became very valuable!)
Needless to say, in America each year they have a Salt and Pepper Convention! So off I went and this time the sellers sold from their hotel rooms and once again, I was in awe of how many there were and the different types.
Very small section of one vendor's salt and pepper shakers
By then I had bought several books on the subject and it was delightful if I found one I had wanted and had seen in a book.
I met many great people, had a fun time, especially the night when we dressed up as our favourite salt and pepper shaker!
Dress up as your favourite salt and pepper shaker
I came home with a suitcase full of salt and pepper shakers, all carefully wrapped and unpacking them a few weeks later was like discovering them all over again.
Then on to the next ...
CHILDREN'S ILLUSTRATED BOOKS
Next came my love for vintage/antique children's books with illustrations, and I do not know how I came upon these.
I think, once a collector, it is easy to stray from the original and find other things that are equally fascinating.
My love of children's books led me to buy a lot of those I had had as a child, and particularly an almost complete set of Enid Blyton, including the old and now banned, Noddy books.
Almost complete set of Noddy books with Golli
I found books were then also easy to buy in Australia and were relatively cheap.
Some rare, antique books
I concentrated on anything that had coloured or black and white plates and there were some absolutely incredible artists around who illustrated these books. The majority of these were English, with some Australian, and a few Americans.
By outstanding artist Mabel Lucie Attwell
I collected Pinocchio, Fairies, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and many other books by quite well-known artists from the 30's to the 60's.
My book collection now spans about 2 full bookcases and I eventually went on to collect other illustrated books including:
Dragons and similar
Alice in Wonderland
May Gibbs books
I came across these by chance and started to collect them and the majority were bought from overseas online.
Goebel German vintage bottle stoppers
After buying about 30, I realised that the German ones were far more detailed and better made, so I sold all my others and concentrated only on this particular type.
These bottle stoppers are all ceramic and have a pourer through a hole or two in the nose, hat or mouth of the stopper.
Pourers are in the nose, mouth or hat
I then had to display them, so set out to find someone who made me a lovely display unit for these.
Specially made display for bottle stoppers
To this day, I have not filled it up, so I am therefore perhaps not a hoarder! A hoarder would have covered this with a mound of other things.
I then also collected German egg timers which I also rarely found here in Perth.
Vintage Egg timers
This is my smallest collection of anything and they are displayed in one of my cabinets with some of my salt and pepper shakers.
I then started collecting and selling insulators! Yes, the ones that are on electric poles and ended up with about 40 different ones. I paid for my collecting meanwhile, by selling those items that I did not collect or did not particularly like.
Glass insulators - Photo: Pixabay.com
I also have a small, but delightful collection of antique buckles, all of which I bought in Australia at a Button Fair in Melbourne.
Small buckle collection bought in Melbourne
And then I had to move back to the city and downsize slightly, so I sold a lot of my salt and pepper shakers and kept the best 200 or so.
By now, Ebay Australia had started, and it was getting almost impossible to find anything at swap meets, so after a few years, I decided I could not fit anything else in anyway, as I had enough displays around the house.
I do not consider myself a hoarder in any way. I am able to get rid of things, but I do consider that collecting can be like a sickness as I just had to get up early every Sunday to see what I could find!
Collecting can also be a very rewarding thing to do, but in some cases, it can lead to dreadful hoarding of things that are totally unnecessary and can totally hamper a person's life.
I certainly do not regret the fun I had during the 15 years or so that I collected, and of course, I still have the best reminders of those carefree days, as well as the friends I met overseas.