Collecting things is a very personal pursuit. Ask most people why they collect something, and they’ll usually say they do it simply because they like the item they collect – whether it be stamps, comic books or decorative spoons. But some collections go far beyond the norm. Many people out there are obsessed with some rather odd things, and they collect them feverishly. And they don’t do it for the money. While some mainstream collectibles such as coins and baseball cards can rise in value over time and be worth a lot of money in the future, other collectible items are only valuable to the person who owns and loves them. Here are 10 weird things that people collect:
10. Coke Cans and Bottles
You may like Coca-Cola. You may even drink a lot of Coca-Cola. However, would you obsessively collect discarded Coke cans and bottles? Believe it or not, a lot of people do. Vintage and anniversary Coca-Cola cans, and particularly bottles, are a popular item for many people to collect. So much so, that the Coca-Cola Company devotes a section of its corporate blog to discussing rare Coke bottles, such as the Hutchinson Bottle, which was the very first bottle produced by the company in the 1890s. Some collectors go to extremes with Coke cans and bottles, filling entire rooms in their homes with the items. One collector, named David Andreani from Italy, has more than 10,000 Coke cans and bottles in his home. Unfortunately, only a very few Coke cans and bottles are worth any money. The majority of them were produced in such high quantities that they have no value. Other than to make your living room look like a recycling center.
9. Gas Station Signs
If you’ve ever watched one of the those TV shows about “pickers,” people who go around searching through other folk’s trash and looking for bargains they can find, polish and then resell, then you’ve likely noticed that they love finding old gas station signs. That is because there is a robust market for old and vintage gas station signs. In fact, eBay has an entire section of its website allocated to “Old Gas Station Signs.” People seem to love old custom made gas station signs. Particularly prized are signs from the 1930s through the 1950s. And the more unique and individualistic the sign, the better. Many collectors display these signs in their recreation rooms, garages or sheds. And while old gas station signs are not worth a lot of money, many of the oldest ones sell for between $250 and $500. A number of old, steel Shell Gasoline signs from the 1950s are for sale on eBay for $200.
8. Happy Meal Toys
Those little trinkets and toys your kids get in McDonald’s Happy Meals – you know the ones that seem to break five minutes after you open them, or you find under the seat in your car when cleaning it. Well, those Happy Meal toys mean something to certain people who collect them religiously. An 11-year-old boy in England name Luke Underwood had amassed a collection of more than 7,000 Happy Meal toys, which he sold to other Happy Meal toy collectors in Japan, Germany and the U.S. in 2009 for a total of $11,000. Apparently, what made Luke Underwood’s collection so amazing was that it included the only known complete set of 101 Dalmatians Happy Meal toys. This should provide an indication of the love some people have for Happy Meal toys and the lengths they will go to in order to collect them.
7. Beer Mugs
Most of us likely know someone who has a rather large collection of beer mugs in their home. They are usually someone who enjoys drinking beer. But while that person may have 15, 25 or even 50 beer mugs lying around waiting to be filled with a pint, many people collect beer mugs obsessively. Collecting beer mugs from around the world is a robust pastime for many people – even some who don’t drink. In Germany, a man named Heinrich Kath has more than 20,000 beer mugs in his home. There are so many beer mugs that he mounts them on all the walls and hangs them from the ceiling. The kicker – Heinrich does not drink beer. He doesn’t even like the stuff. Yet he is addicted to collecting beer mugs. For many people, collecting beer mugs starts when they get a souvenir mug through work or some charity event they attended. From there, the passion is born and the next thing you know they have beer mugs dangling over their heads in the kitchen.
6. Police Badges
The police aren’t too popular in most places these days. But their badges sure are. Collecting police badges is a legitimate hobby for many people. There are websites online such as Collectors-Badges.com, Facebook pages devoted to the pursuit, and even conventions where police badge lovers get together to talk shop and swap badges. What people like to do is collect badges from different police forces across the U.S. and around the world. People may have a badge from a police officer in Baton Rouge, a S.W.A.T. team member in Chicago and a vintage badge from the L.A.P.D. circa 1950. Collecting a wide variety of badges from different police forces is what keeps this hobby interesting for the people who are involved in it. That and meeting like minded people who may have a badge they’ve always wanted and who are willing to swap for it.
5. “Do Not Disturb” Signs
There are a lot of things you can collect as a traveler – frequent flier points, hotel towels, and mini shampoo bottles. However, for some people who travel regularly, nothing commemorates a trip quite like a “Do Not Disturb” sign pinched from the hotel where they stayed. For collectors, the Do Not Disturb signs offer a nice and inexpensive reminder of all the cities and towns they visited via hotels and motels. One French man, Jean-François Vernetti, who travels constantly for work, has acquired more than 11,000 Do Not Disturb signs. Other collectors, proudly display their Do Not Disturb signs on their Facebook and Pinterest pages. We’re not saying this is normal, but it is a real collectible item for some people, many of whom claim that it is more tangible than a passport stamp.
4. Nazi Memorabilia
We’re not saying this is politically correct, or correct at all for that matter. But there are a lot of people who collect Nazi memorabilia from World War II. These are usually military items such as Nazi soldier uniforms, SS officer hats, Swastika emblazoned armbands, pins, ceremonial daggers, coins and so forth. A lot of the people who collect this stuff are historians or military buffs. To be sure, Nazi memorabilia is largely taboo. In fact, eBay prohibits the sale of any Nazi memorabilia or items branded with a Swastika. But a lot of these items can be found at military conventions, yard sales and online. For many collectors, the appeal of these items is that they come from a tumultuous period in history, and from a regime that, thankfully, no longer exists.
3. Milk Bottles
If you thought collecting old Coca-Cola bottles was a strange pursuit, try milk bottles. At least Coke bottles have some colour to them. Empty milk bottles are white in colour or clear glass. Yet for some people, collecting milk bottles is what they love to do more than anything else. The appeal is that milk bottles used to be delivered to people’s front door each morning by the trusty “milkman.” That bygone era is long past. But some collectors like to hold onto the memories by collecting vintage milk bottles that used to be delivered door-to-door. And the more time that passes, the harder it gets to find these old bottles and collect them – making the hunt for rare milk bottles part of the fun. And just in case you think we’re crazy, there is a National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors, whose website can be found here: www.milkbottlecollectors.com. There’s also a national convention held once a year and a monthly newsletter called “The Milk Route.” Some passionate collectors have more than 10,000 milk bottles. Sadly, vintage milk bottles aren’t worth a lot of money. Unless, of course, you were to recycle them.
2. Rubber Duckies
Many of you may have heard about the shipment of rubber duckies that spilled off an ocean freighter and have been bobbing around the Pacific Ocean for years and years. Well that urban legend is real, and so too is collecting rubber duckies. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, an American woman named Charlotte Lee has the largest collection of rubber ducks in the world at 5,631. There are also websites such as “Duck Planet” and “Bad Duck” that sell and promote the collection of the rubber duckies most often seen in kid’s bathtubs. The appeal, we’re told, is nostalgia for our youths when we used to enjoy having a bubble bath with our favourite rubber duck. Nowadays, rubber duckies have gotten quite elaborate and are available in different colors, styles and even made from materials other than rubber – such as porcelain, silver and even gold.
1. Santa Claus
It’s hard not to like Santa Claus. He is, after all, the nicest guy in the world. But some people take their love of the guy in red and white to the extreme, collecting anything and everything having to do with the jolly old elf from the North Pole. What makes this hobby possible is the fact that there are so many different pieces of Santa Claus paraphernalia available for people to collect and enjoy. From Santa Claus wind-up toys and Christmas tree ornaments to Santa Claus coffee mugs, pillows, candles, blankets, sweaters, lawn ornaments, wine glasses, light fixtures… the list goes on to infinity. There are so many items emblazoned with Santa Claus on them that there really is no end to the stuff people can collect when it comes to the big man. And collectors regularly come together at Christmas fairs and conventions to sell, buy and swap all things Kris Kringle. It’s a definite obsession.