Collections: Times Past


© irene waters 2016

Last month’s prompt brought out many home remedies common in both the silent generation and Baby Boomers. It was interesting that these remedies seemed to be universal over all the continents that the responses came from. The Silent Generation saw diseases such as polio and discussion arose as to why we no longer see warts that were common in the 60s and 70s. Although we are not getting sufficient responses to draw conclusions it certainly made me think, remember and wonder at how past times have changed.

This month’s prompt came to mind as I packed moving cartons. The amount of stuff that one collects in a lifetime and in my case my ancestors. As we are downsizing a lot of my ‘treasures’ have to be rationalised. I started pondering about collections. Did one generation collect more than others? Is it in a person’s genetic make-up to collect. Do we have collections that start in childhood and continue for one’s entire life? Do we collect different items at different times? This month tell me about a collection you have made or a collector you have known. It can be about yourself or a person known to you. It can be your thoughts on collections. The collections can be bottle-tops, butterflies or anything at all. Did different generations collect different items? Did we all collect similar  items at similar times across continents and between city and country? Did only those that lived in one place have collections? Were collections done in an orderly fashion with recording 0f items or were they simply just there?

Although I am a collector I am in reality a hoarder so I am not going to write about myself this month but rather, about my Father (Silent Generation city Australia) who one may argue was also a hoarder but I would counter as I believed he was a true collector. The difference between him and I is that his collections were organised whereas I simply kept stuff. My Father catalogued everything. One of his most bizarre collections was BIC biro parts. Having recorded the date the biro started being used and the date it finally stopped writing he would then separate the components of the biro. The clear plastic tube would go in one box (you can never have enough peashooters), the ink tube in another and the brass ballpoint bit (to help solve the world crisis when brass became in short supply) in yet another box.

His stamp collection was massive. All recorded and beautifully mounted. He collected the entire world and Stanley Gibbons was his constant companion. He also collected Cinderellas, which are postage imprints that are not stamps but are used on envelopes and his collection was much admired. When he died my Mother was approached and asked if his collection could be published. This gives an insight into the world of the day – social philately.


© irene waters 2016


© irene waters 2016

He started collecting stamps when he was very young. I believe that this was quite common in the “Silent Generation” as my husband still has a stamp album that he started in his boyhood but unlike my Father , collecting stamps did not survive his youth. My Father on the other hand collected until the day he died.

Hope you join in even if only in the comments. For rules see here.


City Australia


About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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29 Responses to Collections: Times Past

  1. Collections – i used to say i collected all kinds of things – music boxes, especially those that boast inlay designs or tiny carved figures on top; ethnic art, especially the lavishly painted carved wood animal figures from Oaxaca, Mexico; sea shells and mineral geodes; hopi kachina dolls. have always been enchanted by australian aborigine bark paintings but couldn’t even afford a small, modern copy. the truth is, i only have small, inexpensive examples of any art form because we’ve never been able to afford good pieces. everything i collected, i loved, and i used them as examples for my young art students.

    my dad also collected stamps, and when young, was diligent about organizing them in albums. later he simply tore off stamps from envelopes and tossed them in boxes.

    the one sustaining collection was my dad’s love for trains, both the old steam behemoths that traveled across the usa, and the model railroads he once owned. both my sons and all the grands love trains. of all the stuff i’ve collected over the years, it grieves me that i didn’t save one of my dad’s model railroad sets for each son.

    really a fun topic, irene – can’t wait to read everyone else’s entry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You sound like me Sharon. You collect a bit of everything. Are hopi kachina dolls the Russian dolls that fit into each other? Your Dad’s love of trains has brought back memories of my Grandfather. He too loved trains and sadly he believed they were a boys toy. My Mum would have loved a train set (also a meccano set) but because she was a girl she was not given either. My Grandfather however collected trains and tracks and everything else that went with it and when my brother was born he was showered with them all. It made my Mum sad/angry and my brother wasn’t up to playing with them for several years. I can remember the odd occasion he would set up the train set but it took up so much space it was rarely put up. We used to go with my Grandfather to a smoke-filled room where oodles of men his age were playing trains. It is a pity you didn’t save one for each of your sons although they may not have been remotely interested. I kept one stamp album and have the book which was made on the Cinderellas. Thanks for sharing your collections with us Sharon.
      Hope you are recovering well from the surgery.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Russian nesting dolls (also love them) often tell Russian fairy tale. As each doll is pulled from the larger, another character or scene is revealed. i think they’re called matrushka.

    Kachina are not really dolls at all but carved wooden figures, elaborately painted and dressed in native costumes. They refer to spiritual life, each one based on a god and meant to assuage the god or earn its grace. Much debate about selling true kachina as it’s seen as desecration. Mine were intended for sale to tourists like me. I figured they put some cash in a Native American family’s bank account, and that was fine by me.

    My sons wanted the trains, i wanted less stuff in our new house, always planned to get the train sets returned once we settled, but never did.

    Thank you, i am healing well – what about you? Muffin and Bundy helping you pack?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the explanation. I hadn’t heard of them so now understand why. I can understand why it would feel like desecration taking the real ones. I felt that way about having a housegirl when we were in Vanuatu. Roger was dead against it but it put money into the locals hands and without it they would have been much worse off. Sometimes you have to see the bigger picture. Pity that the boys did want the trains but I can understand where you were at. I’m there now wishing I had few possessions. Packing was going well but hit a bit of a stop. Sadly I packed the only saucepans that worked on my cooktop and we can’t have crock pots any more which wouldn’t have mattered if I hadn’t also packed the pressure cooker and large saucepans. We’ll survive it.
      Glad your are healing well as am I. Muffin is of no help what so ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Annecdotist says:

    I’m also something of a hoarder but I really had to laugh at your father’s collection of biro parts, which is so perfectly wacky! I also collected stamps for quite a while although I think that’s generally considered more of a boy thing. I think it was a good way of learning about other countries – or at least that they existed.
    Although it wasn’t something I did myself, my baby boomer generation (again probably boys) was renowned for collecting birds’ eggs which wouldn’t be allowed nowadays.
    I’ll come back if I find any fictional collections to add to the collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It makes my Dad sound a bit mad but he was far from that. Glad to hear there is another hoarder about. You may be right that it was a boy thing. I have vague memories of having a stamp album when I was little but it didn’t stick. You are right about knowing your countries – both history and geography – as a result of stamp collecting. I wonder if anyone can tell us if they collected bird eggs. I must have known of the pursuit as I know you prick the egg with a pin to drain out the contents but I don’t think I know anyone who did it.
      I’ll be interested to see what fiction you come up with. Thanks Anne.


      • Annecdotist says:

        Well, eccentricities make people all the more interesting! I hope somebody does admit to the birds’ eggs, as it will illustrate how much times have changed. I think that paradoxically killing things worked as a way of introducing children to nature and many might have gone on to become conservationists, or least knowledgeable about what we need to conserve. I’ve found a few more memories, although not many, including Green Shield stamps (although now I’m thinking they might not count as they were to be exchanged for something else), along with some fictional collections:


  4. noelleg44 says:

    We are also downsizing a bit at a time, Irene. I collected frogs (not real ones) when I was in graduate school and beyond, then switched to insect prints. My husband and I went to old book and antiquarian shops wherever we traveled in Europe and found a lot of valuable ones. Now I have to find someone to give them to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have my empathy with the downsizing. What a wonderful collection those frogs would have made. I have found some people who see my surplus stuff as more of a treasure than I did and then others who see it as total rubbish. The freedom though when it goes is liberating.


  5. macmsue says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading the comments above but have posted my contribution here:
    My family consider me quite ruthless about tossing things out and my son will never let me forget I threw out his money which just happened to be hidden in a broken plastic pencil case! He did retrieve it before the rubbish was collected. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. TanGental says:

    my dad started us. He collected stamps so I did and my son followed suit. He collected eggs and insects and so did we until it became illegal. The stamps though that I really remember were first day covers, which dad had a deal with the Post Office to supply. They were beautifully presented and dad had them addressed to my brother and me which made it exciting for us to receive them. I still have the albums of the envelopes in the attic going back to the late 1950s when they started.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. julespaige says:

    I am once again late to this party…I have too many collections, now. I didn’t get to have many while a child as I moved around quite a bit. So maybe I’m making up for lost time.
    Maybe I’ll pick one and expand on it or just leave this as it falls.

    I wasn’t into records or dolls…and then with having two boys of my own…I am now taking photos of bugs for my grands… but that isn’t really my collection. Hmm… Books, tops (the kind that spin), coral from different coasts (found on the shores), coins from different countries (mostly gotten from others who traveled)… And ah, the most important one of all I suppose all the writing I’ve ever done since I was about 10…mostly poetry, but I’ve expanded into both non-fiction and fiction. And with some encouragement…memoirs.

    Oh… and dice. All colors and shapes. Some of the special gaming ones that have more than six sides, and even dice with other language or symbols on them. Wooden, plastic, small, large…

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. Anthony says:

    I am a collector. I must admit that. Sadly, I have not special collection. I have coins (but nothing famous or complete–but special to me), Japanese telephone cards, dictionaries, hockey cards, and once again, I am thinking of starting a stamp or coin collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely nothing wrong with being a collector (except to the person who lives with the collector that isn’t a collector themselves). It sounds like you have some special things. Japanese phone cards and dictionaries have me fascinated. I think you would enjoy stamp collecting by the sound of it. Thank you for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

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