Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Collecting vs. Hoarding

Why do people collect things? Is a group of things that someone gives you truly "your" collection? Do you have to add to it all the time to keep it alive? Is hoarding actually collecting in a messy form? These questions came to mind recently when a group of online friends tried to guess from photos who owned which collection.
Some people collect because something calls to them; maybe you have 100 pairs of shoes, and 50 are different kinds of black pumps! China roses to be displayed in the dining room might appeal to someone else. Often it goes back to our childhood, and what we saw being collected by family members.
My mother has a great collection of pewter serving pieces and another of milk glass. In the 80s and early 90s, my dad used to collect Happy Meal toys. When McDonald's started having the toys all tie in with films or toy companies he stopped. Some of these sets are really cute and seasonal!
I have a collection of Longaberger baskets which I use for entertaining all the time. I used to belong to their Collector's Club, and I try to have my purchases be the monthly specials, so they are only available for a short time. I also have a collection of Depression-era glassware, that I rarely use. Why? It's pink, which doesn't match anything in my home decor, and it's not really my personal style. Then why do I have it? It was a family collection, and as a teenager I really appreciated the floral, pink, Victorian aspect of the set. To top off the family set, I started to buy pieces to continue the collection, and received many for gifts. Big problem with collecting glassware: it makes guests nervous! People are afraid they are going to break the thin glass of drink ware, and go looking in my cabinets for more modern glasses! So it's 20 years later, and I have boxes of this glassware. Do I get rid of it? Just the stuff I bought and hang on to the family pieces? Who knows! I try to use at least the serving pieces whenever I can! It really is beautiful and delicate.
A collection I really love is my medicine bottles. This brings to mind the hoarding aspect of collecting. The initial collection was a bunch of old bottles found laying around the basement of a Victorian-era family home that we had to clean out to sell. I loved the sepia labels, engraved glass, and cork bottle-stoppers. Over the years my father has added pieces to the collection by finding things in his own basement. Now, why would a house built in 1965 have toothpowder tins and other items from the 1950s in it?!! Because someone is a hoarder and actually moved these items from home to home! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy having these items to make the bottle collection more colorful and interesting. But did he really save these things for 50 years thinking that some day his grown daughter would want to display them in her guest bath? They weren't even stored together, they were just found in random spots when looking for other things!
I guess that hoarding can help with collecting in the long run, but does the hoarder benefit from holding on to all that "stuff"? I've rarely heard of one who has, usually because they will only give up their items to family or friends who promise to keep it as a collection. They rarely will sell any of it, and throwing it out would just be crazy talk in a hoarder's world!

Here is the official hoarder, circa 1986, in his lair!

I think after all this rambling about collecting and hoarding I've made a decision. If I'm holding on to something in a box for someday, it needs to go! There is someone out there who will use it and keep it out and have some great conversation pieces to share with friends, while with me the items will just stay in a box and be sad.
For those who have a collection which you love and add to, I'm sure eBay is one of your best friends! I have 2 other sites that specialize in collectibles. GoAntiques and Collectibles Today. They are also good for getting pricing ideas.If you are interested in checking out some of the things I've found in my dad's basement, check out any of my Vintage Thingies Thursday posts, listed on the left sidebar.

90 comments:

Terrie's Lil' Piece of Serenity said...

Elizabeth, That was a fun game trying to guess what collection belonged to who. I love your baskets. Terrie

beddow said...

I like your conclusion. If it is in a box, waiting for some day. I like it. I have always been a person that has my "stuff" out. I want to be able to touch it and use it. But after RMS for a while I started looking at things that maybe I was keeping for some day though I hadn't looked at it that way and yes, I finally let go of some things. Have only regretted getting rid of one so far. lol

Betty

Terrie's Lil' Piece of Serenity said...

Elizabeth, I'm just dropping by to say, "Good Morning & Have A Beautiful Day." Hugs, Terrie

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

I was delighted to have you visit my blog. I enjoyed reading yours and particularly the one on collecting. I never really collected anything on purpose until my grand-daughter was born. Shortly after she was born I was antiquing and ran across a baby shoe planter from the 1940's. I loved the color of it and since I was born in the 40's and my grand-daughter had just joined us I was really drawn to that little shoe. That was 3 years ago and I have 25 of them now. ~ Lynn

Elizabeth M Thompson said...

I know a couple of people who stepped over the line from collector to hoarder and it is not pretty!

My personal philosophy is: if it needs to be dusted, I don't want it. So I don't really fit into either category.

Femina said...

Dropping by from SITS... I used to collect children's books (mostly out of print or rare) but found that people were using me to offload all the ratty old books that they couldn't be bothered sending to charity. Old and tatty CAN mean valuable but usually doesn't!

Off to visit the rest of your blog...

Leah said...

I'm working on NOT hording and am getting better... a fine line indeed.

Yeah for being the FB!

BoufMom9 said...

OMgosh! We collect the same things! I have a collection of antique medicine bottles and pink depression glass and baskets!!! How funny!

LenaLoo said...

My dad is a terrible horder, as were his parents... I've never been able to go into the garage at my parents house, and they have been there since I was 4... I have found that I started hording stuff too... I think it has something to do with my ADD though... I just work on routinely letting my Mother in law come over and help me "clear out" so I can be mad at her and not myself for throwing away something I later wish I had kept...

trashalou said...

I would probably turn into a hoarder if I wasn't so scared of my sister coming over to 'help' me ;-)

Tara@Sticky Fingers said...

My husband claims that all the stuff he has rammed into the loft is his 'collection' but I can only assume that is true if the word collection has been changed to mean: random crap that you save for no reason

Tara@Sticky Fingers said...

My husband claims that all the stuff he has rammed into the loft is his 'collection' but I can only assume that is true if the word collection has been changed to mean: random crap that you save for no reason

KC Mom said...

I love to collect things but find that I get a little OCD about it and have to back off. Cute post!

mommytoalot said...

Hey there,
Love that post.
I am a er em....hoarder....it drives my husband crazy.
xo

Auds at Barking Mad said...

I love your Longaberger baskets! I had a huge collection back when I lived in Ohio in 2000-2003 and then when I moved to Europe I got rid of ALL of them! Oh how I wish I had at least hung onto a couple.

I think I might be somewhere between a hoarder and collector of other things and this post has sort of hit me over the head like a brick. I have boxes and boxes and bags and more boxes of stuff I haven't even looked at in years. Someone else would probably appreciate it. It's really just all a bunch of random stuff I just haven't been able to get rid of.

HeatherY said...

My mother was a hoarder, I guess. She had everything neatly packed away and out of site so it wasn't completely obvious until she passed away. She kept everything from our lives. She was just too sentimental to throw any of it away.

Astrid said...

Happy SITS day!

I come from a family of hoarders so it's difficult for me not to be one. However, I've learned to rotate through my collections (okay- not really collections but just random stuff) for displaying. Funny...I keep meaning to get rid of stuff but then I go "shopping" in my basement and I find all kinds of neat items. So...I'm having a little trouble actually getting rid of stuff.

I love your basket collection!

Creative Junkie said...

I don't collect anything, unless insanity counts?

I see so many things I'd love to collect but I never do. If we could win the lottery one day, maybe I'll indulge myself!

randalswife said...

My mom is a tosser - just the opposite of horder. Whenever she comes to stay with me she gets rid of things. Most of the time I can appreciated that she has helped me to declutter, but every once in awhile, I think "Aw, shoot, why did she get rid of that??"

Melissa Papaj Photography said...

My mom is definitely a hoarder. She had a collection of everything and anything when I was growing up. She actually had themed rooms. Our living room was unicorns literally from floor to ceiling along with millions of tiny knick-knacks. So, I learned to hate knick-knacks and all those tiny little things. I am very plain jane and the only thing I seem to be hoarding is baby clothes and toys...lol. I really should get rid of them too.

Tracy said...

I love your Longabergers! I collect those also, I think I have around 18 ... I don't pay big prices for mine though, I get a thrill out of finding them in places like thrift stores and yard sales, you'd be amazed at the one's I've found for 50 cents to a dollar!

have a great Tuesday!

Brittany said...

Due to living in a very tiny house, I've had to draw that line between collecting and hoarding. I've thrown a lot out.

LoraBB said...

The surest way to combat hoarding? Move from studio apartment to studio apartment in the city by yourself. Eventually the idea of carrying it all is just too much! Good luck walking that line!

Columbia Lily said...

as the daughter of a hoarder/packrat, I have a strong reaction to hoarding and tend to go pretty far the other direction. But I am tempted by things like glass and fabric, although I use the fabric almost as fast as I get it.

Jenners said...

Happy SITS Day!

I loved this post... especially Chicken McNuggets dressed for Halloween! I agree with you ... it is a fine line between collecting and hoarding. I think collecting is done thoughtfully and is usually put on display. Hoarding might be done mindlessly (anything fits) and might be hidden away. It is interesting what people collect and why. My sister-in-law is a great collector of many different things and I've never quite gotten it but lately I've found some collecting tendencies starting to surface and the other week I realized I collect things that I didn't even view as collections.

Your post has inspired me to write my own post on collections someday. There is a lot to be said on this subject! Thanks so much. I'll give you a "shout out" when I write it!

April said...

I'm the complete opposite of a hoarder...I love throwing things away!

koopermom said...

My mother is horrible! She collects collections. You name it, she's got a collection. I've been trying to tell her less is more, and to cut back on just her favorites, but it's not working. I have a few obsesions, I love strawberries, and decorate my kitchen in them, and collect Precious Moments and I have some crocks and depression glass, but that's about it!

Connie Weiss said...

I like to collect things until I don't have anywhere to put them. If it is in a box...it is not a collection.

I wonder what my kids will do with my 'collecitons' when I am gone....

Oh2122 said...

My Dad is a pile-er.

I fight it every day, but I'm more of a stock-up-er. Plus I have this deep seated New England thing about not being wasteful...

Use it up, wear it out. Make it do or do with out.

Jerrie said...

Great post. I am a collector - I like my *stuff* but I also like to get rid of stuff...Clearing the house is great therapy for me.

My aunt, however, is a hoarder...It is so hard sometimes because she just doesn't see it/understand/care. She always wants help "organizing" her "stuff." aaaaahhhhhhhh!

Vickie said...

Oh, this is another great post. I love to collect things. I too have started collecting Depression ware. Mainly yellow, but I have some pink, even a white or clear piece. Also, I collect Avon's Christmas tree pins. At the end of every year, my mom comes to my house and shows me the catalog and I always pick the trees. I have one from every year since they started the collection piece.

Unfortunatly, I have a hard time throwing things aways. I call myself the mini hoarder. Though my Husband does not find it endearing.

Brandy said...

There's only a couple of things I won't part with but now that I think about it, why not? None of the items have value...I'm just holding them for "one day".

Good post! Now can you help me clean out my basement?

Karen said...

My dad has a bit of a hoarder personality, too. He's not too bad, because he only keeps his stuff in his den and the attic, so it doesn't invade the rest of the house, but he has all of his old books from college in the attic and never throws away an undershirt unless it has huge holes in it. He tries to give me things all the time that he thinks are valuable (but he doesn't need them) and he doesn't want to throw away. Example: last year he gave me a really nice set of accessories for my Palm Pilot, too bad they were from the 1990's and don't fit any current Palm Pilots! Who knows why he kept such a thing new in its package for so long...anyhow, it was fun to see your collections, I love the Longabergers! Have you visited their factory? I have...it's fascinating. You should try to go sometime when you're feeling well. I've enjoyed your blog today, and I love the name of it, so funny! I am/was a teacher, too, and I have a similar personality. It's a teacher/nurse thing, I think. :)

Amber said...

I LOVE your medicine bottles! How awesome! I don't really collect much of anything but maybe I should start!

Kristy said...

I used to save everything, but i'm slowly learning its okay to throw things away or have a huge yard sale! lol Happy SITS day!

mommaof4wife2r said...

happy FB day!!! sooo much fun! ok, i don't keep anything...hardly at all. in fact, i think sometimes i should not toss so quick. i guess i'm an anti hoarder??

Kari Dawson said...

Amen SITSta! If it's in a box, it has to go! A true collection or anything that holds value to you should be on prominent display in your home. If there are too many things to display, you'll have to choose your favorites and donate the rest. You'll always be surrounded by things you truly feel connected to and truly enjoy instead of just "stuff."

Marshmallow Circus said...

I'm sending this post to my mother right now. ;)

Simply Stork said...

ahhh I also love the baskets...I can spot longenberger(sp???)basket a mile away :o)

Happy sits day :o)

~simply~

Blue Castle said...

Excellent post. I struggle with this. I like to collect certain things, but then I get overwhelmed by all the "stuff" and go through spurts of purging my house of unnecessary items. There's a balance and if you can maintain that, then you've done well. :)

I love those bottles too. Great collection.

Irene said...

Do broken toys and tedy bears with missing parts count? Hehe. I do not really collect anything in particular, but my kids certainly hoard their most prized toys-no matter what shape they are in!

Have a wonderful day!!

Jaden Paige said...

I used to be a super packrat, but I have gotten better over time :) Moving a lot helps with that... You soon enough discover that you'd rather let go of a few things than lug them from basement to basement :P

Emily said...

I love the chicken mcnuggets! I totally forgot about those...i used to love the halloween ones!

I have a drawer full of wine corks that I have collected. It started with me being too lazy to walk 10 ft to the trash can so I just tossed it in a drawer and progressed to me convincing myself I can create some cool decorative piece with them some day. 4 years later, there's still no decoration and I can't decide if the corks are cool or just make me seem like a wino... Ha! :)

Tabitha Blue said...

Good conclusion... I'm with ya!! I think it's time to clean some stuff out. :)

Katie said...

My grandfather was a hoarder--big time! Totally useless stuff, papers dating back to the beginning of time. Ugh!

Mimi said...

I am a piler, pack-rat. I come from a long line of the same & now my 2 sons have picked up my habit. Oops!

Loved getting to know you better on your SITS day!

ScrappinAway said...

Oh how funny, I have those Chicken McNuggets! I collect children's books. I guess deep down I have always wanted to be a librarian, but life happens and right now I am SAHM and enjoy that. But maybe one day my collection will inspire me to go back to school for a different degree!

hellosweetworld said...

My mom is definately a hoarder.....though she'd like to think a collector. Hehe....

Michele said...

I have a similiar medicine bottle collection. I find it so interesting...relics from the past. I wonder what stories went with these bottles. But, they are in a box!!

cornnut32 said...

my mom has a whole bunch of those halloween mcnuggets. we've had them for years and years, and she still pulls them out every halloween! this year my baby got to play with them...i remember playing with them as a child as well.

Katie Stacey said...

I love this post. I have a hoarder in my life and it is really frusterating to see how the stuff has taken over her life and pushed people away. I'm with you, if I haven't used it in 6 months, I throw it out!

The Boss Lady said...

Hahaha, my MIL is the biggest Hoarder EVER. You can't even step foot in her garage, and she has old newspapers piling up in her bedroom because she can't let go of them.

I throw everything away. :)

blueviolet said...

At one time, I had all of the McDonalds dalmations premiums. Remember those?

Jen said...

I think I just collect clothes and shoes I'll never wear! Such a bad habit!! :) I guess maybe I fall under the "hoarder" category!

Erin said...

I think there's a fairly thick line between hoarding and collecting. I see hoarding being almost compulsive, a need, a must. Collecting is sharing and more importantly honoring items, and treating them with respect.

I think I've watched one too many episodes of Clean Sweep...That organizational expert Peter Walsh is a genius.

Dream Girl said...

While I can't say I have a collection as of now, I am the type to hold on to little aspects that remind me of certain times and events... (A napkin from the plane towards my first Spring Break, sand from my first trip to CA, a reciept from a Starbucks in NYC...etc) I wonder if If this is the start of something else... great post though, I think there's nothing wrong with keeping something if it has some sentimental value to you. =]

Laurel Plum said...

I come from a long line of hoarders and pack rats, but I am an organizing/decluttering junkie. LOL.

Live.Love.Eat said...

Collections are great but when someone feels the need to collect everything then that's a disease. I can't believe the shows I have seen where people can't even let go of bandaids.

Preston said...

I collect Atomic Era barware and glassware. I also collected Magic the Gathering Game cards, coffee mugs, shot glasses, and Beanie Babies. There are over 250 Beanie Babies stored in boxes in my basement. I don't know what drives me to do it but when I get the collecting bug there is no stopping me. Congrats on it being your SITS day!

thequeenmommy said...

Hoarding, er Collecting, MUST be genetic!!! I L-O-V-E your medicine bottles - fantastic! And I'd love to see a pic of your pink glassware - I can just imagine it. I am surrounded not only by my personal collections, but now by my husband's eclectic collection of boxes and treasures that "will be worth something someday." sigh... Our girls are doomed...

Mommy_of_2 said...

OOh man, the dressed up chicken nuggest!!

I am a minimalist when it comes to most things.I dislike clutter!!

Mommy_of_2 said...
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Mommy_of_2 said...
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Adrian's Crazy Life said...

My mother and my in-laws were hoarders so after cleaning out their houses after they died, I learned the lesson about collecting vs. hoarding. I do collect a few things, but they are small, easily contained, and are out where I can appreciate them. I don't want to leave a job like that behind for my kids.

Happy SITS day!

Hairline Fracture said...

I agree--if I don't use it or at least have it where I can enjoy looking at it, I get rid of it. I like your medicine bottle collection, though--very unique!

BeckettFan's Tales said...

Happy SITS day!! Hope you have a great one!!
I have a collection of everything and anything firefighting! I have little statues and fire trucks and ambulances everywhere in my room!! My nephew gets mad at me when I tell them they are for looks not to play with! Yeah that serious!!

♥spoiled mommy♥ said...

Can you be a half horder?!
Yeah, cause I think Im a half horder...theres things I just cant let go..mostly from the kids...its not a collection of things, just pretty much junk that wouldnt mean anything to anyone else but ties into a special memory for me.

Happy SITS day!

Mrs. S said...

My grandpa used to collect Happy Meal toys, too. But he was a hoarder of many things. Something I think he passed on to my mother - who is a pack rat! I have to be there when she cleans or else it will all just be rearranged.

Clippergirl56 said...

Hello from SITS. I would have to say that I was a colletor. My DH has clutter so that is all gone now.
I do stockpile good deals from the grocery store though.

bfs said...

Oh, my! After reading your post, and then some of the comments, I'm thinking 'hoarder'. I have come from a family of 'collectors'.

I was so excited in 1998 to 'size down' from a 2-story home, 2500 or so sq ft to a one-story, 1700 sq ft or so. I'd gotten rid of so much.

Anyhoo ... then some people in my family died, my mother and my great aunt, and so furniture and collections came into my home.

Months later, when other family members who had inherited this or that decided they didn't want it after all, they brought it to me. I'm way too sentimental!

It's a big problem. I have 2 friends who are professional organizers, and I would be horrified for them to go through my 'stuff.'

Seriously, I do have a goal of disposing of many things. Books and so much stuff. Sentimentality can be an awful deal. Anyway, I enjoyed your post very, very much.

mrsmouthy said...

I don't collect anything, can you believe it? Well, except every hand-written note and card I've received since the seventh grade...oops. Guess I'm a packrat after all. Have I ever reread a single one? Nope!

Temple said...

Congrats on your SITS day! And, um, 50 pairs of black pumps is not hoarding...it's like survival :)

Joy said...

Longaberger baskets are so beautiful. I am partial to your medicine bottle collection, though.

Michelle said...

Oh now that's the great debate. I think someone put it best that it's a collection when it's "normal" and hoarding when it starts interfering with aspects of your life. Good luck :) And definitely some neat and interesting collections!

Elle MD said...

I collect nativity scenes. Some are big; some are small. Some have several pieces; some have only one. I used to display most of them. But wow...eventually, I had to pick and choose. I bring more out at Christmas. Otherwise, every room in my house has at least one, even the bathroom. A couple of rooms have more than one. In July you can walk around my house and see probably a dozen of them. On my desk at work? Three, all one-piecers. But at Christmas, you'd see nearly 50!

- a SITSta

becky said...

I used to collect shot glasses, but got tired of dusting them! We live in a small place, so I'm trying to declutter. It might be different when we're in a house, instead of just a small apt. But for now, we have too much stuff!

april kennedy said...

I don't collect any one thing...and I'm definitely not a hoarder...sometimes I think my family will think I am boring. Instead I buy what makes me 'tingle' in my soul and when I change my mind...or style...I sell and buy something else. It works for me...although doesn't make me very sentimental, which drives my MIL crazy...but that is another story. Bummer...not a hoarder...not a collector...just a buyer!

Rhea said...

I think collections are good for the soul.

Rachael said...

I collect unicorns. Figurines, books, toys, stuffed animals, artwork. I have over 200 things in my collection, including a tattoo on my arm. I love them, and it makes me happy to look at them. I'm proud of my collection - it's been work to get them all and I absolutely LOVE discovering new and different ones. But, I agree about the stuff in a box for "someday". We moved into a much smaller house earlier this year, and have gotten rid of TONS of stuff. It feels so good!

WheresMyAngels said...

My mother is a hoarder. I was once a collector of hard back book, had over a thousand of them. But I HATED dusting them. So now I have less than 100.

mrsbear said...

My in-laws tend to hoard, it really gets exhausting I think and you're right, if it's packed away and you can't even get to it, what's the point in having something.

Dee from Downunder said...

Hi there, came over via SITS.

I think, as you said, if its in a box... its hoarding. If its out in view, its a collection. I try not to have collections, because I know I will continue to accumulate regardless of space.

Judy Haley said...

i love those medicine bottles. that picture totally triggered the collect/hoard gene and made me want to go antiquing. But I'm gonna be good because we have to get rid of a lot of our "collections" to make room for the baby.

Bea said...

Thought provoking questions. So I had to ask myself, "Hoarder or collector?" I would say a lot of collector, a little hoarder (I find things that I think I'll use later).

Angie said...

I collect a ton of things (as I'm sure you've noticed).

Too bad those chicken nuggets are so hard to find these days. I haven't added to my collection in at least five years.

Jewelgirl said...

I am a selective hoarder but I know
why. I grew up with everything very modern. All it took was an antiques
show at age ten to fall in love with
old things.

AnNicole @ OurSuburbanCottage said...

Oh, I can sooo relate to this. I think my dear, sweet mom and step-dad have a problem. They have a 2 car garage that they can't even park in because it's filled to the gills with stuff...along with every other nook and cranny of their house. I love them dearly, but when I went home for a vacation last summer I thought, "Oh, man. If they died suddenly I'd be responsible to clean this house out." Isn't that terrible?!

It's a vicious combination of not being able to get rid of anything (my step-dad's MAJOR issue) and feeling like everything you see at estate sales needs to come home with you like a lost pet (my mom's MAJOR issue).

Ahhh, ok...that was very therapeutic :). Thanks!

P.S. We won't be mentioning any of this on my blog. I think my mom might be a tad upset with me.

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