Collections: Reminders of Our Individuality, What We Hold Dear

Monday night I was reading FDluxe, a Dallas Morning News publication that features articles about fashion/style, homes, dining, etc. The May 2008 issue includes a full-page spread showing various treasures people collect. I’ve always been fascinated by people’s collections. I once knew a guy who had a whole basement full of baseball caps. He was in his 80s and had been collecting them since he was a teenager. My former next-door neighbor, Mrs. Irish, used to collect goose eggs, which she decorated and sold at craft fairs.

As a child, I collected:

  • Stamps — I still have an old, rust-colored stamp book full of them.
  • Buttons — You’d be surprised by how many cool buttons are out there.
  • Rocks — Yes, as an only child I needed to find something to entertain myself when playing outside.
  • Trolls — I had 365 of them and was featured in the local newspaper when the Holliston Public Library put my collection on display!
  • Precious Moments dolls — I loved their teardrop eyes.
  • Costume jewelery pins — I had two six-foot boards full of them, which are now gaining dust at my home in Massachusetts.
  • Anything to do with frogs — I still have a fetish for frogs, and for butterflies.

Now I really don’t collect much, except for books. (The Border’s next to my apartment tempts me all too often.)

Here are some of the slightly more sophisticated collections featured in the FDluxe piece:

  • Vintage pagodas
  • Two-faced vases
  • China
  • Taxidermy — deer heads, small minks and beavers.
  • 19th and 20th-century hand-painted photographs of women
  • Napkins
  • Hand-blown glass
  • Wine
  • Antique prints
  • Vinyl records

I can’t see myself collecting any of these “treasures,” especially not napkins. But that’s the beauty of collections — they speak to who we are as individuals, to what we hold dear and, sometimes, to what we’re afraid to lose.

What do you collect?

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at

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