Monday 19th February 2018
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What do you collect?


I don’t collect anything, and never have been a big collector of things—I guess I just don’t have the gene. But I do own more Herman Miller Picnic posters than I can hang—they were created by graphic designer Steve Frykholm during the 70s, and I just love how graphic and poppy they are. The one pictured I got on eBay a while back, and I found this one for one of you lucky people on Etsy. They tend to run anywhere from $250 to $800, though there’s no reason to spend anything near $800 if you keep checking eBay. (And you can find them even cheaper than $250 if they’re slightly damaged, which I never mind: it just lends to the item’s authenticity, right?)

Posted on September 7th, 2017 38 Comments

38 Responses

  1. Trish says:

    I love these posters – what a great thing to collect! I’m not a collector either, unless you count the seashells I have from my travels. I keep a basket of them on my coffee table. Such wonderful memories!

  2. y.k. says:

    o no!! these posters are BEAUTIFUL & totally up my alley.

    i have a collection of buddhas (not valuable, in resin & other colorful materials ). when i moved 2 years ago i stored them & realized pretty quickly i didn’t miss them.
    (insert joke about desire &buddhism).

    going on eBay now. ..

  3. c.w. says:

    Not a collector either. I do have a tendency to pick up the stray piece of beach/sea glass I come across when I’m picking up trash on the beach which all ends up in an empty jam jar at the end of each summer. I’m pretty certain my tendency to be streamline and as possessionless as possible (discounting shoes) is in direct contrast to my muther who is not that way. At all. Bless her heart.

    • DeDe says:

      I can relate to this. Prettty much the only thing I have in abundance is shoes. We’ve moved so many times over the years, it gets to where having the stuff to “properly” fill a house is more of a burden than anything else. And I guess it just doesn’t really interest me, for whatever reason.

    • Mamavalveeta03 says:

      In therapy about “mother issues” as we speak. 😉

  4. Rachael says:

    I collect artwork and photo books. I mean, I’m an artist, and the art happened at first because my friends and I would trade work. Then as I got older and had more money, it became something I became more committed to (now if I could become more committed to actually putting all of the work on our walls…) The photo books started as I learned photo history, I realized that they were important, and a piece of art that, though somewhat pricey for me at the time, I could manage to own. Now I have a decent collection of old and new.

  5. Dana D says:

    I have deep respect for individuals who do not have the collecting gene…

    alas, I am drawn to beautiful bowls and vessels (mostly handcrafted, from travels) and canvas logo bags. (My years in therapy have provided me with an ability to diagnose the need behind these particular collections…btw, I’m really good at diagnosing…)–

    As the eldest child in a home with an alcoholic father and a sibling with a degenerative disease, I could never hold everything together. The bowls and the bags are utilitarian symbols of the need to gather together and contain.

    Those are just two of my collections. I also have all of my grandparents collections from their world travels (oil landscapes of California, pottery, statuary, silver and turquoise jewelry from the southwest…). Then there are the books (too many), ethnic textiles, and other travel pieces…

    Oh, and the pillows.

    Boy did you open a can of worms…

  6. joannawnyc says:

    As someone with a background in design history and art history, I tend to pick up a lot of stuff, but I don’t know if I would really call it collecting as much as “randomly buying stuff I like.” I have a pretty good (choice but small) grouping of midcentury ceramics, costume jewelry, textiles and clothing, but these have been acquired as I come upon them, not in any purposeful way.

  7. Betsy says:

    I would say that I don’t collect anything but that would not explain the shelf of mid-century head vases or the wall of paint by number paintings of Paris from the 50-60’s. So midcentury kitsch maybe?

  8. Heather says:

    I teach a course on the history of collecting, and yet I’m another non-collector. Have moved too many times and had to get rid of stuff each time – it’s easier just to not accumulate things at all.

  9. Dianne says:


    Over the years I have collected Krenit Bowels, Cathrineholm bowls, colorful hand blown glass vases, Nambe serving pieces, and turquoise bracelets.

    Over other years I have given away much of what i’ve collected.

  10. Marit McCabe says:

    Henry’s, a neighborhood joint at 105th and Broadway, has a great collection of these posters hung up all over the place. Definitely a strong reason to visit the street I grew up on.

  11. gk2829 says:

    I have many different kinds of collections. Without collectors, most artists and craft-workers could not earn a decent living. I know people who collect and I know people who don’t collect. However, collecting is not a personality defect or sign of superficiality. Strangely in the US – the world’s biggest consumer of things – I find many people (especially among the upper middle class and educated) look down on collectors.

    • DeDe says:

      I know the phenomenon you’re talking about, but fwiw, not all non-collectors are anti-collecting. For me it’s not a moral statement; I don’t think it’s “wrong” to have stuff. I’m just not really into it.

      • gk2829 says:

        I agree with you. As I mentioned, I have also friends who are not collectors and don’t look down on collectors. But I also find it interesting how class and education figures into the trend among “some” anti-collectors. It has been observed by researchers that in the last 20 years or more there has been changing consumption habits among rich people in the West. Of course, there have always been rich collectors but there are also many ordinary collectors. Many people with little disposable income become collectors because they can’t afford to indulge in experiences like yoga classes, adventure vacations, fine wine and food etc because they work in retail or earn not that much more than minimum wage. I am not saying that spending on non-visible, highly expensive goods and services is bad or good. However, I have met many educated and upper middle class people who scoff at collecting as being more materialistic and consumerist and talk about how much more authentic experiences are not collections. This attitude really annoys me so I guess this touches on a nerve – hence this mini rant…….

        • DeDe says:

          Hahaha, no, I totally get it! That kind of thing (coming from well-off people) is super pretentious. It’s still status-flagging, no matter what they say about it. And I can’t think of anything less authentic than accumulating *anything* – goods, “experiences”, whatever – soley to impress or intimidate other people.

  12. Cheryl Guzman says:

    Hey Kim, in my mind’s eye, you have a collection of Fornasetti containers and trays. Now I’m curious. I would love to see a picture of them grouped, because every single time you mention them, I come so very close to ordering a candle!

  13. Francine says:

    Does denim count? 71 pairs of jeans and counting.

  14. SC says:

    Art – from photos to old oils, valuable and not. Vintage furniture. Sea shells. Old lamps. Art books/ interior design books. Old cocktail glasses, which get used a lot, people love them.

    I like a hi/ low mix of old stuff that FUNCTIONS.

    Oh and Vintage charms – for a charm bracelet I’ve had going a few years. All gifts from my husband. Very personal/ sentimental. I love it.

    I love old stuff, but keep it edited. And a little spare.

  15. Emily says:

    Rocks. I have 7 on my desk here at work, 4 on my kitchen windowsill, 6 on my built-in by my bed. I pick them up on travels. It has to be a good rock (I use an unopened geode as bookend; I have a piece of good luck coral that looks just like a cauliflower floret; a rock I found in the ocean in Maui that looks just like a prehistoric egg). They remind me of the places where I picked them up and they are free!

  16. Jasmine says:

    Silk scarves, both new and vintage. It started out strictly with the Hermes 90 x 90 ones and now includes some from a few other designers. I find myself drawn to them, the design of the patterns, the workmaship, etc. and I do wear them all the time once the weather turns. But if anyone broke in to the house they’d think that a scarf hoarder lives here. I also collect yarn and have much more of that than I do the silk scarves. Among knitters this is called Stash Aquisition Beyond Life Expectancy. The yarn stash will definitely outlive me at this point!

  17. Sarah says:

    I have always admired these posters! Great minds…

    Sadly, I haven’t kept a collection since my vintage lunchboxes in the 90s (unless chambray shirts count).

  18. Amy says:

    Oh dear, I have so many collections. I started with little boxes, shoes, and earrings, and now it includes milk glass, mid-Century glass, Coach bags, Fiestaware, little tiny paintings, and whatever else my magpie self happens to discover. Some day I’ll have a Fornasetti piece.

    • Amy says:

      I forgot some: ceramic Christmas trees, fortunes (from Chinese restaurant cookies), elephant figurines and covered glass chicken dishes.

  19. Kate says:

    I come from a couple generations of antique sellers (although I use the word “antique” here loosely), so I know the dangers all too well! I love the hunt but try to keep it to items I really use — i.e. my dishes, which are all jadeite, or my turquoise jewelry.

  20. Kristen says:

    Both of my parents and my grandmother had collections (I suspect as a way to ease gift giving occasions). I think for this reason, I am pretty resistant to the idea of collecting things that are not useful. HOWEVER, I have amassed a ton of yarn and even though my intention is to knit it all into something pretty and useful, the reality is, I just like to look at and buy yarn.

  21. Lynn in Tucson says:

    Spinning wheels. It can be terribly impractical but my husband’s a good sport.

  22. Mamavalveeta03 says:

    I’m not really a collector. Having a mother who’s a hoarder will do that to you. I guess I collect heart-shaped rocks whenever I find them on the beach.

  23. karen says:

    books…i love to read, and i can not get rid of them, even the ones that i didnt like enough to finish, even the ones that were so light and fluffy that i couldnt remember anything about it when i finshed.

  24. Debra says:

    When I was younger I used to go a flea market once a month. I collected cobalt vases and bowls. I also collected faux jewel pins and wore them on my jean jacket. I still have both collections but do not collect anymore. The vases and bowls are scattered about the house; the pins tucked away.

  25. moi says:

    I caught the junk shop hunting bug from my mom. As a teen, we’d spend at least one Saturday a month perusing the shops in the city. This started a passion for Depression glass (the Jadeite stuff), Mid-Century Modern pottery (Bauer, Russell Wright, Frankoma), anything Art Deco, and Murano glass ashtrays. I have over the past ten or so years eBay-ed all but a few of my most beloved pieces. Now I focus on scarves (hi Jasmine), and perfume.

  26. jamie says:

    Books, primarily, are the biggest collection I/we own (I have to count my 11 year old son in this, as his book collection has spilled out off of his shelves, onto his floors, and into our living room. Well-loved collection!

    Also: Roseville pottery, because my Grandma Wells collected them, and I have a couple of her old pieces and have gathered one or two mores. I would love even more, as I think the pieces are lovely, and remind me of her.

    I used to collect sand from various places we used to visit, and friends would bring me back film containers of sand. I still have them all (in lovely glass bottles) but am thinking of combining them all into one large jar, layered like striated land, so the dusting isn’t as intense (they’re all packed in a box right now).

    Also used to collect wooden Fisher Price people, and narrowed down that collection to my favorite ten people. You can’t really find them anymore, but I also didn’t want as many as I had.

    I also have a great art collection, gathered the same way as the commenter above, by trading artwork with fellow artists. Best way to surround oneself with beauty.

    When I was younger, my mom always said that I had a ‘collection of collections,’ but that’s not longer true. I love the objects I love, and discard/disregard the rest. It’s all about comfort, and love and joy, for me.

  27. Amy says:

    I collect a few things. Shells. Every time I go to the beach, I’m always looking for that elusive perfect shell. Wish I had gone to the beaches immediately after Irma (tropical storm for us, not massive damage). I also buy t-shirts each time we go to a new place.