Friday, April 1, 2011

Collecting Books . . . and other stuff

We talked, a few days ago, about books and whether they mean more to us if they're inscribed and/or signed.

It was a good discussion, and the answers varied greatly.

And it got me thinking about how we collect "stuff."  Is it in our genes?  Are we either a collector, or not a collector.  If we start out collecting one thing, does it lead endlessly to more collecting? ? ?

Donald and I are collectors.  Actually, I should clarify that.  We used to be BIG collectors.  Always on the hunt.  The hunt was a big part of the fun of it.  Finding that elusive "thing," was exciting, but I think the hunt was more exciting because regardless of how pleased we were with our find, we were always back to the hunt quick-snap.  We're not doing quite as much hunting as we once were.  We've become small to teeny to itty bitty collectors.  For a couple of reasons.  One, as we've gotten older we've realized we might have enough "stuff," so what we do add to our collection needs to really speak to us.  Secondly, since we've moved to a much smaller house, those items have to not just speak to us, but speak very loudly.  (I much prefer the word "collector" to "hoarder," don't you?  I do NOT want those people who claim to help others get rid of their "stuff" to show up at our house to help us.  For real.)

Anyhooooo - - -

You know by now that I collect books.  I do give a lot of them away, but there are many I'll never part with.

And they're everywhere.

All over the house in every room except the bathrooms.

Donald is very tolerant of all this, seeing as how he's a bit of a collector himself - which is a bit of an understatement. 

Donald is a locksmith.

He's always been one who likes to take stuff apart and put it back together.  His folks tell me this has been going on since he was a little boy.  If I remember correctly, it started with a toaster.

Now, if you've looked inside an old padlock you'll see that all those little moving parts inside are teeny.  He loves this!  Loves finding a new one to take apart and then make a key for it that will move all those teeny little parts around.  Lordy, I hope he doesn't read this.  Since I don't understand the workings of the inside of a lock, there's no way I could describe it properly, and he would feel as though I have not learned my lessons well.   One of his very favorite things is to repair the locks on antique furniture and make a key so the lock will be functional again.  Not a lot of locksmiths enjoy doing this kind of work.  Truth be told, there aren't a whole lot who can do it, and even less who will do it for fear of damaging the lock or the piece of furniture.   Donald, on the other hand,  loves the challenge of it and is quite good at it.  All this has led to an extensive collection of antique locks and keys.

This, of course, is a teeny small sampling.  All you collectors out there understand, I'm sure, that not all of your collection is always able to be displayed, right?  Sort of like museums that have to keep a larger part of their collections hidden away in storage. 

So, while Donald is perusing the antique malls, burrowing around looking for locks and keys, I'm wandering about looking for books.

There's always room for another book or two.

Hmmmmm.  That's what I used to think.  And that's what's gotten me into this trouble.

Because there really isn't room for any more books.  And that's why they're now taking over.  And why we're now talking about what we're going to do about it.


That's a problem for another day.

One of the things Donald and I both enjoy hunting for is a "Barley Jar."

You've seen them.

You know the canister sets you see in the antique stores?  The sets of 4 or 6 or 8 or even 12, or more. There's always a canister for flour, and for sugar, and sometimes one rice, and ocassionally, for barley.  Since Barley is our last name, it's a fun thing to hunt for.  Sometimes the antique dealers will gladly break up a set and sell just the Barley jar.  Sometimes though, they won't and they won't budge.

The first Barley jar was one Donald's mother gave him while we were dating.  His parents continued their hunt until all the Barleys had at least one.  We continued the hunt for awhile, but haven't found one that has spoken to us in quite a while.

And I was always looking for white pitchers.  Preferably ironstone.  My mom gave me my first one years and years ago, then out of no where, the whole world started getting interested in white ironstone pitchers and they became difficult to find.  And expensive.  Thankfully, I had all I wanted and needed by then.  Besides.  I could always buy another book . . .

So, tell me.

Are you a collector?

Of one thing or many?


Unknown said...

Love it. I have mostly books, but I hang onto other stuff, too. Do you think there's a collecting gene? My father collected many things. He and my mother filled up our big house, then the two-car garage. So he bought the house next door and filled that up, too. I'm thinking that was a good idea. I wonder if my neighbors would consider selling . . . .

Jody said...

Books, boxes (mostly miniature), and Hull vases. The boxes started with a traveling friend who would bring me a souvenir from Chinatown in LA or Williamsburg or wherever she traveled that year. My mother had a vase sitting on top of the cabinet in the kitchen for many year that I admired. I later discovered it had been a wedding present. Later she gave it to me & I started my collection. I also have a set of Cameo depression ware which started with a present from my aunt & to which I have kept adding.

Ken Lewis said...

Kayester: tell Donald I WANT that old lock collection! And the display case he has them in is not too shabby either. Another antique I presume?

Beth Anderson said...

Fun and interesting post, Kaye. I collect books too, but since I had three generations of books in my house, last fall I donated all but a couple hundred of The Books I Cannot Live Without to Friends of the Library. I also collect porcelain dolls, mostly little kid ones, but haven't bought any new ones in a while and as you said, half of the ones I have are in storage. I kept all the little kid ones out though, I couldn't bear to put those away. Love the lock and Barley collections!

Mason Canyon said...

I am most definitely a collector. I collect books, tote bags, coffee mugs and sometimes even get carried away with pens and pencils. I started looking at teapots, but made myself stop at 2. I also seem to collect yarn that I hope to someday use. LOL I have books in every room (even the bathroom) and several in the car. I always carry at least one print book with me, as well as one on my MP3 player. I don't have an e-reader or I'd have that with me too.

Thoughts in Progress

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I had a feeling there were a few collectors in this crowd. LOL!

Bill - I've seen the video of your office, so I would have to agree that you are a collector of books. Lots and lots of books. Do I think there's a collecting gene? I do! And you have helped me firm up my theory a little bit. Both Donald's parents are collectors, so he gets it honest. Both mine too. big sigh. I would recommend to anyone who is a collector and looking for a partner, to seriously consider looking for a non-collector. Bill - keep me posted on the house next door!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Jody - you're talking my language!

Boxes are totally addictive! Donald has a few, but we had to back away from that.

Old dishes. Addictive. I had to back away from those.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Kenneth - when you and JaNell come for a visit, you will have a big time looking through Donald's collection. There's a few hundred more in his shop/storage building. A lot of them are in an old watch case that goes around in a circle.

The case you see in the picture is one we found at an antique fair that's held annually in the town of Abingdon, VA. We try to go every year - it's wonderful!!!!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Oh, Beth - I just know your dolls are treasures! And one of these days you're going to have to walk me through some helpful stages for getting rid of some of these books. But not yet . . . .

Mason - Books and tote bags and coffe mugs, oh my! Do you think they just seem to multiply all on their own?! I'm with you about having a book with me where ever I go. We've been known to have to turn the car around and come home if I leave home without one.

LJ Roberts said...

LOVE your cross-stitch samplers, Kaye. Oh, yes, I do collect. Although, I don't do needlepoint at the moment, I still have an entire drawer of hand-pained canvas waiting to be stitched along with tons of fibers. Key-wind clocks; nine of them and only one is 31-days, the rest get wound every Sunday. Mythical figures; 100 of them from Tudor Mint, Myth and Magic collection plus assorted others. Glass/crystal candlestick holders; I've no idea how many. Christmas ornaments; LOTS of Radko, Polinaze and Patricia Breen when I no longer put up a tree. Price Cottage Ware; UK stoneware where the pieces look like Tudor cottages. Books, of course; about 6,000 of them everywhere (except bathroom). Lots of antique furniture; some valuable, some not, all loved. I certain there are lots of other things, I'm just do used to seeing them. Mink/sable teddy bears; yes, real fur--I see bears in your house.

I do need to divest; I really need to sell a lot of my things. Unfortunately, in this economy, collectibles just aren't selling. Anyone interested? :-)

Janet Rudolph said...

I recognize the Devonware (mottoware). I collected that for years, but sadly it's in the garage in about 20 boxes. Not sure if it's the genes, but my grandmother used to hunt the barrels in London (you put your hand in and pulled out tarnished silver and silverplate). She also collected blue & white dishes. I collect embroideries, americana, signs... anything you can read. That's no surprise. I've been going to flea markets for sooo many years. Went through my Oriental rug period. Now they're stacked on top of each other as in the rug stores (but I'm not going out of business! :-) what a topic

Carol Murdock said...

Hey Kaye!I'm with you collecting books! It really is an addiction!
I will keep my eyes open on my antique excursions for Barley jars!
I bet I know a collector who would take them of my hands! :)

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

LJ - this is too funny!!!! The needlepoint canvases that I have, but haven't finished, or in same cases, not even started, are from the company @Maggie, and by Gerrie Fenter. I don't have too many of those. What I do have a huge stash of is counted cross stitch patterns, linen and fibers. I went nuts for the overdyes and variegated fibers when they first started coming out. And the hand dyed linens. SO different from the old JP Coats DMC floss and old aida cloth!

Those samplers you like are designs by Shepherd's Bush (they have a GREAT website).

Long story about the teddy bears. That was one of those collections that just happened while I wasn't looking. My dad bought me a wonderful bear when he and my mom and I went to Epcot Center the year it opened. I love that bear. His name is Winston and he always goes on vacation with us.

But next thing I knew - there were off-spring. You know how that goes. Friends and family see that you have more than one of something and it ends up being the perfect gift for birthdays and Christmas. It got to the point where bears were sitting in every corner, and on every chair.

Donald swore they partied at night after we went to bed and kept him awake.

The bear collection has been brought somewhat under control now with many of them (NOT Winston, though) packed away in the storage building out back (which is the same size as our house).

The downstairs of that building is Donald's shop - woodworking shop - lockshop - etc. The upstairs is just storage. We DO need the hoarder people to come help us out with it - for real. Like you, I keep saying I need to have a sale, but not at yard sale prices.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Oh, Janet - Somehow I just KNEW you were a collector. I could die that you have 20 boxes of mottoware in your garage. I'm going to not think about it or I'll hate you. You're the only person I've ever met who had any of it - aside from my mother in law, who got me started.

I love this story about your grandmother! Doesn't that sound fun?? And your rug story made me HOOT!

susied said...

Not necessarily a collector, but I'm a New Englander and we are noted for saving EVERYthing! I've tried, I really have, but some things I just cannot get rid of and the closets, bookshelves, hallways and cabinets are pretty full! :) Pity me if I ever move...

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Carol - you are an evil woman. LOL! You have found some GREAT buys on your antique-ing trips!!!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

SusieD - Donald's family is from Massachusetts - perhaps that explains that side of the family! LOL!

I do indeed pity you if you ever move. When we moved here from Atlanta is when we had our aforementioned shop/storage building built and it was filled to the rafters in no time. There are boxes and boxes of "stuff" out there that we haven't looked at in 15 years. Sad. Now that I'm retired, I really do intend to sort all that out and trash some of it, and give or sell a lot of it.

Patty said...

Yup -- I call it my "occupational hazard", book collecting seems to go hand-in-hand with the title of Librarian. But, I also collect all kinds of supplies and gadgets for counted-cross stitch, movies (first on video, now on dvd), and music, lots and lots of music.

Victoria Hamilton said...

I love all your shelf photos! I am sooo a collector - I love vintage kitcheny stuff, and books, and bowls and pottery containers, and... well, lots of stuff. And I just love your collection of locks!

Jill said...

My name is Jill and I am a collector...Cathedral bottles are my weakness. Cobalt blue cathedral bottles make my knees weak.

Anonymous said...

Books (and CDs and DVDs too) but mostly books. And I am totally out of shelf space, as you are. Maybe your next blog could talk about downsizing and how to do it. I don't want those "help a hoarder" people at my house either.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Oh, Patty - there was a shop in Atlanta that I loved. A counted cross stitch shop named Abecedarius. They sold some of the most gorgeous and wonderful counted cross stitch "stuff." Sterling chatelaines, sterling needle holders - I had to continually remind myself that I just could not afford those things!!! But they were scrumptious.

Bobbi Mumm said...

Wonderful post, Kaye! The dining room of our hundred-year-old house has plate rails running the full perimeter. Every inch of these plate rails is covered with blue and white china plates. Sadly, I can't collect more. I ran out of plate rail a few years ago.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Victoria - I LOVE your profile pic!

I think vintage kitchen stuff is wonderful! Our little kitchen is so teeny there's only one vintage kitchen thing in it. An old match holder which hangs on the wall that my friend Debby gave me. I would love to have a big country kitchen full of all the fun stuff that I'm betting you have - lucky woman!!!

I had some more shelf photos I was going to include, but you could see how dusty everything is, so I changed my mind. LOL!!!!!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Jill - I don't know what Cathedral Bottles are! Tell me more, please!!!!!

I'm fond of cheap ol' cobalt blue wine bottles, so I know I'll swoon over your Cathedral Bottles!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Liz - we downsized, as I said, when we moved to Boone. But we didn't do it very well. I "thought" we had. But we didn't do enough. Good idea about doing a blog about it - I'll do it! thanks!!!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Bobbi - I am moving in. Consider yourself warned (again!).

There's something about blue and white that grabs us, isn't it?! Gorgeous!!

I have old plates hanging around the top of our walls in our bedroom. Just a mish-mash of old china dishes I've picked up cause I liked them. No plate rail, so I've just used plate hangers. (Buy you some more dishes, girl! I'll send you plate hangers. LOL!).