Why Do People Collect Things and My Long Lost Finial Collection

The best part of cleaning out my hoarders basement is unearthing long forgotten finds! I’m sharing a collection that’s been hidden away in a bin for over a decade plus some other favorite things I love to collect. I’m also trying to answer the age old question that is, “why do people collect things?” I’ll share some interesting history on collecting and theories to figure out why I just can’t stop plus some really weird things people love to collect!

Why do people collect things? This finial collection is just one of the many this collector owns and displays kellyelko.com #collections #collecting #collect #collector #finials

Victorian era aristocracy roamed the world searching for fossils, shells, zoological specimens, artwork, books and other interesting objects. They would house their finds in special rooms in their homes called “cabinets of curiosities.” These collections were a symbolic display of the owner’s wealth. Many of these cabinets contributed to the start of the first European museums.

This finial collection is fun displayed on a mantel kellyelko.com #finial #collections #collect #vintagemodern #eclecticdecor #vintagedecor #elephant

The collecting bug bit me early in life. Mouse figurines were the first thing I can remember collecting when I was a kid and I proudly displayed them on my bedroom shelves. In high school I started collecting wrist watches (I found a bag of them in the basement that includes a paisley Swatch and a Mickey Mouse).

Today, I have more collections than I can count. Some of my favorite collections include …

loving cups (trophies with two handles)
demijohn bottles (wine jugs)
old corkscrews
vintage drinking glasses in every color of the rainbow
Shiny Brites (see my Christmas tree covered in over 300 vintage ornaments here)
old blue mason jars with zinc lids
vintage landscape paintings
old plates
milk glass
silver flatware
old ashtrays
green glass
colorful mid century decanters
alarm clocks (did you know clock collectors are called horologists)
I even collect matchbooks … and plants!

See how I display my collections here

These shelves are filled with just the tip of my collecting iceberg!

Vintage Lovers Fall Home Tour kellyelko.com #fall #falldecor #falldecorating #shelfstyling #vintagedecor #eclecticdecor #collections #homedecor

I wonder what a therapist would make of all my collections. Freud thought that collecting ties back to the time of toilet training. He said that the loss of control and what went down the toilet was a traumatic occurrence and that the collector is trying to gain back not only control but “possessions” that were lost so many years ago.

Calm down Freud! Sounds like he could have used his own therapist!

What a fun collection of finials kellyelko.com #finials #collection #collect #collector

Has my collecting spiraled out of control? Will I soon try to break the 2008 record for the most back scratchers (that title goes to Manfred Rothstein with 675 scratchers). Will I try to outdo Ann Atkin who proudly displays her collection of gnomes and pixies at her four acre gnome reserve in the United Kingdom. Will I stumble into insanity if I try to beat the sugar packet collection of Ralf Shroder (14,502 different packets)?

In the process of purging a lifetime of things that have overtaken my basement, I’m finding it easier to let go of all that extra stuff. Does that mean I’ll get rid of my favorite collections or stop collecting altogether? Heaven forbid!

Tour My Hoarders Basement Here

But I will be getting rid of most of these finials (I’ll probably keep a few for my garden). I wonder what Freud would say?

So whether you love the thrill of the hunt or the nostalgia, I say collect on my friends!

Are you a collector? When did your collection obsession begin? What are your favorite things to collect? What’s the weirdest thing you collect?

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  1. Oh no Kelly, don’t get rid of the finials. They are marvelous! To me hoarding is stacks of newspapers and styrofoam cups. Lovely collections are worth keeping.

      1. I see the finials all painted the same color. All white, black, or some amazing color to suit your decor!

  2. As a fellow horologist I also collect so manydifferent things. I’ve tried to slow it down and eliminate some (I have managed to curate some of the more out of control collections). Now that we’re planning on down sizing this year, I have to get serious. And it’s hard…so hard.

    1. Yes! We need to curate! Keep the best of the best and let go of the rest! It’s so hard Mary but it’s nice to imagine someone else loving and appreciating out cast offs!

  3. So similar!! I had a beloved collection of miniature porcelain animal figures as a kid—swatch watches as a teen/antique watches as a young adult—I also have a wrought iron finial collection and old books, old silver, urns, cloches…..I think a collection provides variety within a beloved pattern grouping….it’s immensely satisfying to see multiples grouped together and then have each one tell its own story. Thanks for sharing yours.

  4. I collect cake stands, but I am a baker. I collect postcards, still have MANY from my grandparents from my childhood. I used to collect cows when I was young, and I do collect movie stubs.

  5. Well they’re all darling and of course so pretty when displayed like yours. However, I am finding that if I can keep my ‘stuff’ under glass – in two tall cabinets, I can manage all the things much better. It’s the dusting and constant cleaning – especially when the sun shines on collections! The sun is so brutal in showing dust I think it did more to stimulate me getting rid of items than anything else. That, and my adult children who have an aversion to anything that is not from Ikea or “minimal”. I can entice a granddaughter once in a while to like something, but none of their parents are willing to house all the things till they’re on their own. So I am finding possessions only weight me down – I just have to clean up and keep only what is too precious to give up. And, amazingly, I really don’t seem to miss a lot of the items I thought I would never part with. So, we’re in this together – you take your time as it is YOUR journey and all of us will support and encourage each other! Thanks!

    1. I’m impressed Mary! It’s hard to downsize but it’s necessary for our sanity! We can’t keep every single thing we every bought or we would be on the next episode of Hoarders! I am glad your granddaughter appreciates your things.

  6. I adore collecting things. But I had to get rid of a ton of stuff when I left Australia and moved to Greece to live in a tiny home on Paros… I miss most of my stuff, but I did keep a few things. And I will start collecting different things again… I just cant help myself! 🙂

  7. I am a collector, also. I have been collecting miniature souvenir buildings for a long time (it’s the designer in me), and of course, the older and the more obscure, the better. I collect old postcards of the lake our cottage is on, I have a collection of McCoy pottery and one of MCM martini shakers. I also collect – although maybe that isn’t exactly the correct word for it – cool lamps. I have a Paul Hanson tortoiseshell lamp ($6 at a thrift store) and a Frederick Cooper bee lamp ($15 at the Salvation Army) + other interesting pieces without labels. I also correct barkcloth, tiki kinds of stuff, vintage cottage-y kitchen stuff (including vintage tablecloths and state tablecloths, tea towels, aprons, etc). Geesh, I’m reading that list – tone to purge lol!!!

    1. …and I forgot to add that, for me, it is definitely the thrill of the hunt! Finding an old tablecloth at a rummage sale or a single souvenir building at a garage sale makes my day, and I have about 10 Statues of Liberty to prove it lol.

    2. Girl you may have more collections than I do! I also have a few old martini shakers and mid century lamps that I love! Enjoy those collections Kathryn!

  8. Many collections also…lol.
    6″ glass canoe shaped candy dishes
    Unframed landscape paintings
    Wooden unique “things”
    Hands! Artist models, manequins
    Clear glass paperweights
    Wooden corkscrews
    Milk glass
    Glass domes
    Big clocks

  9. My husband began collecting gravy separators to occupy his time when I was antique shopping. Honestly, I think he may have all ever made, ha. Friends and family began the search for him too!
    I collect antique reamers.

  10. My collections which i have stopped now, but still have are old buttons, wooden thread spools, and shells. Shells were my first when i was 10. I still am collecting old bottles, pitchers,small wheels (they go in my yard), and birds. I think i have a few more small things, can’t think and didn’t realise it, that i keep in big jars.

    1. I love storing collections in jars Marlene! Helps to keep them from looking like a big bunch of clutter! I too have a shell collection. Hope all is wel!

  11. Too bad we’re not all living in same neighborhood! Can you imagine a group garage sale? We’d likely all just end up exchanging our things and never get rid of one thing -🥴Mary

  12. I love your collections because they are so organized. I like the groupings. I collect Precious Moments figurines and anything antique.

  13. Oh my gosh, color me green!!! I am in love with your finial collection! Collecting things, especially things I can enjoy, is a great source of shopping therapy. I thrift, I estate sale, I love auctions, antique stores, et al. It’s almost as good as reading a favorite book. Although now that we’ve moved from the greater DC area I am having a tough time finding those great antique stores and Virginia auctions. You are and have always been an inspiration to me! If you stop collecting, then you must, I would die if you don’t, open up an Etsy or EBay store so that we can bid on your most eclectically awesome collections!

  14. I too am a collector of various items such as a stuffed animal collection which half of it is cats, lynxes. wrestling figures, pictures, bibles, crosses, autographs, stitch , c.d.st-shirts of various things , necklaces, watches,bracelets

  15. I collect because as a poor child growing up I was told to wait at Christmas for a gift so my younger siblings could have gifts. ” You understand, right?” I was told.

      1. Greetings Kelly! I rarely participate in online conversations but I’m compelled by your site and peers to hop on board. I have a sizable collection of ladies’ compacts, powder boxes, and perfume bottles from the 20’s through the 40’s. I’ve read that it’s a wonder we won the war because every engineer was submerged in the design and patent process for powder compacts!
        Of course I collect tons of other things: souvenir sewing notions like pincushions, needle cases etc, vintage laces and linens, vintage dog prints, old flowered dessert plates, and I can’t resist old photos of little boys dressed as cowboys on ponies.
        Thanks to all for your inspiration! Hoarder is such a harsh word. I prefer the term “dedicated-accumulator”. MJG

        1. LOL Mary Jo – I’m going to get “Dedicated Accumulator” on a t-shirt! I love that you have such a variety of collections. I suddenly feel the need to collect boys on ponies photos! Thanks for chiming in and hope to hear from you again!

  16. I just had to jump in with my collections of Oscar Mayer wiener mobiles, old thermoses (over 100 of them), scales, toy washing machines & I too have Statue of Liberty figures.
    I’m going to cut back on all of it.
    Ok, who am I kidding…….
    I’m keeping ALL OF IT!!!
    And your sunroom is beautiful!

  17. Love your collection of finials! That is one I would not downsize on! I collect ironstone pitchers, but try to keep the number around 30. If a buy a different one, then I sell a less loved pitcher. That way, I can keep it to a controlled number that my house can handle.

  18. The collections I have were all started by other family members. I have my dad’s bird egg collection he started with his dad back in the 30’s. I also have his matchbox collection he started as a young adult musician playing one night stands all over the Midwest. Both of my grandmothers and my aunt had colorful brooches which are displayed on an antique mirrored tray that also belonged to my grandmother. I wouldn’t part with these collections for anything! My weakness is chinoiserie so I’m trying to compile an edited collection of ginger jars and temple jars.

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