Jun 7, 2012

I Collect: Stefanie

I love the Internet. I was doing a little googling the other day and came across this fabulous blog by fellow collector Stefanie. Having been inspired by Lisa Congdon's "Collection A Day," Stefanie decided to blog about collecting everyday for one year. Quite and ambitious feat. 

I collect: Many, many things, but my largest collection is vintage elementary school books from the 1930s-1960s.  I also collect vintage toys.

Its been going on for: I got my first school book in 1984, but I've really been collecting them seriously for maybe 10-12 years. I have somewhere around 500 school books. As far as my toys go, I've been a toy collector for nearly 30 years. I am a toy designer by profession, so this sort of goes with the territory.

I look for additions to my collections at: Mostly antique malls/ flea markets. Although I've bought things on eBay from time to time, it sort of feels like cheating to me. I prefer the joy of the hunt!

When I find one I feel: Excited! But I have to keep photos of my various collections on my iPhone, because I can't tell you how many times I've bought duplicate books- it's so hard to keep them straight, and there are so many! Now, it makes it easier to look at my photos to tell what I have.

The star of my collection is: My near-mint set of Scott, Foresman Dick and Jane books from 1951 & 1956. (There is actually one I don't have, but it's a 6th grade reader, which isn't as desirable, so I haven't been in a huge hurry to finish the collection)

The oddest piece in my collection is: If you count all of my collections, I think I'd have to either go with my 1867 wooden patent model of a steam valve, or perhaps my diddley-bow... that's a little one-stringed musical instrument.

A way my collection has gotten me into a tight situation:  I guess the tightest situation my collections have gotten me into is my blog. A year ago, I came across a fellow collector who posted one of her collections every day for a year. Although it was a fun blog, and she had some cool stuff, I thought my collections were more interesting, and I decided I could do a similar blog. I decided to post one of my collections every day, Monday through Friday, and then feature another collector each weekend. I'll tell you, it's been a tough year. I've decided to suspend my blog on June 30, when my blog reaches one year old. It's been really stressful (but fun!) to document my various collections because I tend to do it one day at a time instead of all at once. So, nearly every morning, I'm setting up stuff, taking pictures, editing the photos, and then putting together the blog entry. As the year has progressed,  I have created  'special days', like Toy Tuesday, and School Book Friday, and I also added Orphan Wednesday, where I feature my 'unique items' that don't fall into the 3 or more rule. 
I'm really glad I did it. It's given me a chance to document the extent of my collections, photograph everything, share it with the world, and learn a few things to boot. But doing a daily collector blog is not for the faint of heart. I plan on putting everything into a book when I'm done. I also am thinking seriously of thinning my collections out substantially too. I'll definitely keep my books and musical instruments, but I'm willing to part with many of my other collections.

Some other things that I like to collect are: vintage toys and games, musical instruments (mostly stringed), ephemera, books. You'll just have to look at my blog to see the different kinds of things I collect!

My family and friends think my collection is: My husband wishes I'd dust a bit more, my kids roll their eyes (they are all grown, and none of them are collectors), but my friends think it's awesome.

I've received a couple of honors for my collections: in 2000 I won the Judges Trophy at the Ventura County Fair in California for the best collection (school books). I was also featured in 2004 in Playthings Magazine (a trade publication for the toy industry) as their collector of the month, again, for my school books. 

My gallery on Collector's Weekly: http://www.collectorsweekly.com/user/stefdesign

Thank you so much for sharing Stefanie!

May 26, 2012

Collecting Coral

Mine is a body that should die at sea!
And have for a grave instead of a grave
6 feet deep and the length of me, 
All the water that is under wave! 
(excerpt from "Burial" by Edna St. Vincent Millay)

What a magnificent animal. Coral is in the Anthozoa class of marine organisms, which also includes sea anemones. These builders of reefs are an integral part of the sea's ecosystem. By secreting calcium carbonate, they create hard skeletons which build up over time to form coral colonies known as "reefs". Spanning over 1,600 miles, The Great Barrier Reef is the largest. 

Coral reefs are being threatened by many things including coral mining. If you are interested in having one of these nautical natural history pieces in your home, it is best to find one that has already been mined vs. going into the sea and gathering it yourself. Organizations like the United States Coral Reef Task Force are working to protect what is left of the worlds coral. This includes the conservation, restoration and protection of. As the reef population dwindles, it is important to do our part to keep what is left in the ocean, in the ocean. That being said, there are many places to find coral like aquarium stores, garage sales and the internet (especially places like ebay and etsy).

If you are interested in collecting corals you may find these titles (available on amazon.com) helpful; "The Super Simple Guide To Corals," "Corals; A Quick Reference Guide,"  and "Aquarium Corals: Selection, Husbandry and Natural History." If you are looking to identify corals in your collection you may want to use the Coral Genus Identification CD. The Coral Science website (found here) is also a great resource of information and links. If you are curious to see a large coral collection in action check out the Waikiki Aquarium's massive coral collection, said to be one of the largest in the world. And please take the time to check out the crotchet coral exhibit at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum. It is amazing.

Thank you etsy sellers for the use of your beautiful images. Everything you see here is available for purchase on Etsy.

May 5, 2012

Finders Keepers: The Heart of Collecting

Ooooh this looks so good!

"Meet the collectors of antique telephones and talking machines, confectionery molds, snow globes, handcuffs, brewianna and other interesting artifacts as they tell their unique tales of research, preservation and passionate pursuit. It's a fascinating and revealing look into a special fraternity of modern hunters and gatherers."

May 3, 2012

Collecting Garden Gnomes

April showers bring may flowers and who better to serve and protect those blooming beauties than a delightful garden gnome? 

The Garden Gnome has been gracing us with his (and sometimes her) presence for a few hundred years. Sometime near the end of the 18th century "House Gnomes" had become all the rage. They were mostly porcelain-most likely manufactured in the Thuirngia area of Germany, a thriving ceramics local. World War II had a devastating effect on the production of all ceramics, especially unnecessary pieces; like yard decorations. 

Not only has the Gnome been labeled as kitsch, but has also been the butt of many jokes and the focus of one extremely involved prank. The prank has been called a few things including "The Roaming Gnome," or "The Traveling Gnome." It involves a stolen gnome being photographed next to various "sights" (as if traveling) and then, most times, being returned. One extreme group dedicated to this Gnome trick goes by the name "Garden Gnome Liberationists," and has been in the news since 1998, when it's leader was involved in the theft of 150 gnomes, getting himself in to some serious (french) legal trouble. 

"Gnome Wants To See The World" from Amelie

If you are interested in learning more about Gnomes, I'd suggest this very well written article. Also helpful would be these titles, available on Amazon.com: "Garden Gnomes: A History," "Gnomes," or "Gnomeland: An Introduction To The Little People." Also, do not miss this "Real Life Gnome" displaying the largest collection of Gnome memorabilia!

There is no place like Gnome.

May 1, 2012

I will be back soon, with more collections! 
(I'm awaiting a Dr.'s appointment for some wrist pain that has been keeping me from the keypad)