The art of collecting

When I was younger, during primary school, I think, I was an avid collector. I have collected flowers, pressing them between books. No clue about the specific names of the plants, except for very common ones such as dandelion or poppy, I mainly wanted flowers I thought pretty. And I forgot about them after I put them in the books to press and dry. My mother laughed at my surprise when, a year later, I opened a book and a dry, discoloured flower fell out.

My little brother and I decided to collect stamps next, and quarreled a lot about it, as siblings tend to do. “This map was mine!” “Liar, it’s mine”. Mom and dad wisely got us differently coloured maps after a few of those incidents. My brother had blue ones, obviously, and I had red ones. We often went to a fair in a church nearby and got to choose a sheet of stamps from one of the filatelists usually standing there. My parents were very supportive.

And we changed our interests again, for me it was for the last time. Dad made us both a big case to display our collection. My brother’s stood in his room filled with Harry Potter lego he got or saved for. Mine? I had it hanging on the wall of my room, showing off my stone collection to everyone who entered my room. I even had a subscription to a collecting magazine called ‘Schatten van de Aarde’ (treasures of the earth), which came with two stones every issue. My prized posession, and I still have everything. I have awfully neglected it, though, for years and years, until I took it from my dad’s home last Friday. A helluva job lies ahead, because the gems and minerals in the boxes have been tossed about quite a bit and I have to determine them again. And learn about their qualities, both magical and mundane, though I won’t keep a very good pace, I’m afraid… I’m always quick to lose interests in my collections.

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So I’ve collected flowers, stamps, stones, coins (especially when the Euro was first introduced we collected the coins from different countries all together) and even keys because I aspired to be one of those smart kids I read about in Enid Blyton’s books and it would come in handy to have many different keys. I was so unnerved I went round my neighbourhood asking people for their old keys… I can’t imagine what they thought.

And my brother? He enjoyed the lego and still has it. After a while he took the red stamp books as his (but that’s fine, since I took his stones from Naturalis, a museum) but he has forgotten about them. Now he collects hoods and empty liquor bottles (not that he drinks them all by himself, I think). But nothing more.

So what did you collect as a child and what do you do with it now?

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