Renovation & Design

Treasure chest of joy

Collecting fun and profitable, if kept in check

Laurie Mustard / Winnipeg Free Press

Mustard knows what time it is, because he has the old Eaton’s clock in his garage.

This old gramophone really cranks out the tunes.

Are you a hoarder? Thankfully, I’m not. Even though I love to rescue things, and have a fair amount of "stuff" in my possession, I don’t want to keep all of it.

Hoarders do.

According to the good folks at the Mayo Clinic, hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs. Hoarding ranges from mild to severe. People with hoarding disorder may not see it as a problem, making treatment challenging.

If you know anyone showing these behaviours, do what you can to help them.

My "anxiety" at present (very mild mind you), comes from trying to find good homes for the things I have fostered for a time, some I want to sell, some I am more than willing to give away. The challenge is finding homes where they will be appreciated and preserved.

For example a few lovely old pianos and pump organs I have prevented from going to the dump need new homes, which can be very difficult to find, and how I ended up with them in the first place. But no, I definitely do not want to keep all of them. I’m more than happy if people take them just to repurpose that gorgeous old-growth wood. Just don’t chuck them! Sacrilege!

So what category do I fit then? I believe I mentioned once before, that a friend who LIVES antiques and historical items describes me as a cultural anthropologist, meaning I specialize in the study of culture and peoples’ beliefs, practices, and the cognitive and social organization of human groups. Yep, that’s me.

I like to save things from our "culture" that I feel need to be protected and appreciated, like the dusty Eaton’s clock you see here, which I still have to get a couple of the plastic faces made for. The originals were damaged in transport. I also have in my care an original Eaton’s shopping cart from the basement grocery section, while although not a precious artifact, will come in handy as part of an Eaton’s presence when I finally get the clock restored and back out for public viewing.

Lots of fond memories attached to these old dears. Definitely not only worth preserving, but using.

Sadly, true hoarding is a mental disorder, and really isn’t about the stuff, it’s about what is causing the person to believe that an irrational amount of things surrounding them provides some measure of happiness, protection and security.

The truth is I do not want to keep all my stuff, and in fact, as I’m writing this, I’ve just sold an old black and white Philco TV for a song — just to keep it from meeting a tragic trashy end. Having acquired a classic 1950s TV a couple of weeks ago, this one had to go. That’s how it has to work, to keep this "stuff thing" fun.

I’ll never stop rescuing things to save and rehome, but I’ve come to the point where the stuff I want to keep has to be living history, like getting my new old TV functional again at some level, and having the gorgeous old gramophone I have in good working order for playing all the old 78 records I’ve tucked away over the years.

The same goes for my classic cars. I want them to run and drive, not sit dead seizing up and gathering dust. Most of mine run like a top. Now there’s a vintage saying for you.

If you happen to know of any collectors out there I’d be very interested in finding a few to meet and write about.

Who knows, it might make for an interesting series of columns.

Feedback and questions are always welcome.


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