Although most collectors share the same love and intrigue of old things, we all seem to approach collecting with different motivations and goals. For someone it might be an old piece of pottery, just the right color to accent the kitchen, for another, an example to fill in a hole in a burgeoning collection. Some are intrigued by historical context, and still others collect with an eye toward investment. Having been at it for 25 years, I have accumulated objects that fit into each of these categories. And I long ago, learned that there is no "right" way, or reason to collect. Each collector finds his own way.
As the years have past, our house seems to have become engorged with things we thought we just had to have. Shelves and cupboards house collections of things that caught our fancy at one time or another, becoming roommates of objects strewn throughout the house for decorative purposes. But, on a couple of shelves, in one small cabinet, lives a small menagerie of things that distinguish themselves from the others, and which for me, characterize the most essential part of collecting. You might call them our "memories shelves". Residing there are Lyn's grandmothers watch, my fathers baby bowl; the sole survivor of a fire that took the family home in 1930. A cherished chalkware cow, which was a favorite childhood plaything, left to me by my grandmother, another grandmothers beaded bag, a collection of miniature hat boxes gifted to my ever bald grandfather by his haberdashers, and a 1950's rocket ship bank which ate coins as we amused ourselves around the kitchen table. The house is full of things that we've acquired, but these are the shelves that contain the things we value.Much like old photographs, journals and other documents, personal possessions left behind can help preserve our family memories.
I never saw my grandfather outside of his home, that he was not sporting a stylish chapeau. Nothing could remind me more of him than the little collection of miniature hat boxes which I found in his bedroom dresser after his death. And don't forget, memories come in big packages as well. That dresser, along with it's matching dressing table, now reside in my bedroom, keeping my grandparents a constant presence in our lives.
And if you're lucky, your affinity for old family objects will become trans-generational. My grandson Alec keeps me constantly aware of my promise to pass along that rocket ship bank. He'll share a few memories too, we still take it out of the cabinet once in a while, and amuse ourselves as we sit around the kitchen table and feed it coins.