Confessions of a collection junkie
Hooked on collecting
Ever since I can remember I have enjoyed collecting things. Stones, butterflies, pres flowers, birds, insects, coins, badges, bottle tops, bottle labels,bullets, badges,matchboxes, cards, etc.- you name them and even as a small boy I always had a collection going in a small or big box.
Bird Eggs: Growing up on a small-holding outside Pretoria, bird eggs was one of my earliest collections. The museum in Pretoria had a huge collection of bird eggs and their colour and shape fascinated me as I peered through the glass cases that held the variety of specimens. So off I went to put together my own collection. Looking out for nests and robbing them of an egg or two seemed to be great fun. The eggs with their yoke and albumen carefully removed with a small pinhole on either side made a beautiful display in the shoe box padded with cotton wool. Later a wooden tray replaced the shoe box as my daughter Heidi joined me in our pursuit for new eggs.
Stamp collecting: With letters arriving in our home and the home of my Grandparents on a regular basis it seemed obvious that a new collection was inevitable. A very basic stamp album with spaces for all the countries of the world was acquired, as was a packet of glue-on hinges and a pair of tweezers, probably as a birthday present. And so stamps adorned the pages under the headings of such exotic places like Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland. Eventually a company offering stamps for sale by post was enlisted to obtain beautiful stamps from far and wide. So San Marino, Germany, Netherlands and England all added to the variety and interest in the collection. A gift packet of 100 stamps of the world kept me busy for many an evening long before we had T.V. in South Africa. A world atlas was used to find out the location of these places and so my knowledge of the wider world grew with my collection. I dreamed of finding that very rare stamp and only later learned that pasting stamps in an album negated any possible value. Never the less a Stanley Gibbons Catalogue was used to establish monetary value. At the same time all my collections were never intended as an investment but rather for personal enjoyment.
Rock Collection: As a geography teacher and nature lover, rocks were an obvious area to begin another collection. Crystal specimens joined my Geodes, Corals and Fossils. A small case in my classroom grew into a bigger one and seemed to fascinate some of the learners who kindly added to my collection. One young lady nearly got arrested as she was found illegally (quite innocently) bringing a new rock for my collection out of a European Country. Another added a rock from Masada in Israel to my collection. Another learner brought me a box of fossils from the Karroo. Some years ago a custom official at the Johannesburg Airport did not know how to deal with my hand luggage that weighed at least 20 kg and was full of rocks. Since then they have introduced weight restrictions on hand luggage, possibly as a direct result of his dilemma. Several trips into the mountains of the Southern Drakensburg added interesting Crystallites and Geodes to the growing collection.
Bird Photos: It soon became obvious that space for any other collections was a problem unless we moved into a bigger house and so the digital world provided an opportunity to store my growing collection of photos of the birds of South Africa on my laptop. As we traveled and birding became a hobby, photographing these beautiful animals became necessary to satisfy my appetite for collecting. Bird photography is challenging to say the least but with modern cameras the challenge could be met. At present my collection of the 950 possible birds in South Africa stands at somewhere in the 400 area.Recently I was given a book on the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa and I have tentatively begun putting together a collection of photos of local specimens. As summer comes I may just build on that.
Logo Golf Balls: I can hear you laughing! Yes this is a serious disease and nothing is out of bounds. On a trip to the USA our friend Charlie Goin in Woodward Oklahoma, can be thanked for this new area. Walking around the municipal golf course wayward golf balls end up abandoned in the adjoining landscape to be diligently cleared by Charlie on a daily basis. So with his help my over 1000 different logo golf balls lie patiently in their trays adorning the walls of my study. The cream de la cream is a ball signed by Ernie Els given to me by my wife Audrey, who while not actively encouraging my passion tolerates it to a certain extent.
Books: Walking past a second hand book sale is a disaster waiting to happen. We have bookcases adorning most of the walls in our house and the rule has now been implemented but luckily not enforced that if I bring another book into the house I need to donate at least one to the local SPCA shop. Even my argument that the 1965, first addition of “Winston Churchill, his wit and his wisdom” will one day be valuable is met with no sympathy. In fact I have a collection of books about various forms of collections that includes Minerals, Rocks and Fossils; Tropical Fish; Shells; Butterflies; Antique Furniture; etc.
At this stage I am embarrassed to mention some of the smaller yet “valuable” collections like old golf putters, fly-fishing rods, sport signatures, African art, to mention just a few.
Must remember to book that trip to the Wild Coast at the beginning of August to look for shells that could easily become my next big collection. My daughter Heidi collected over 700 Cowries on a recent visit. Imagine the beauty of a display cabinet with examples of all the Cowries found in South Africa or even the World!