Starting a Collection
By Paula Kirwan

My parents were married in 1929. Among their wedding gifts were two beautiful bowls that were displayed on a shelf in the living room when I was a child. About 20 years ago, Mother gave one bowl to my sister and one to me. The mark on the lovely bowl I got said “Noritake”; it was a name I wasn’t familiar with at the time. Because the gift was so meaningful I became interested in the Noritake brand and began searching for other pieces as I roamed through antique stores. That was the start of a collection that I have added to over the years, and I now have about 130 assorted pieces of
Noritake. To think it was all because of one bowl!

This is just one example of how a collection can get started, but there are many other ways you can become inspired. A movie buff may discover old posters and fan magazines. Someone with a favorite color will find great shades in vaseline glass, cranberry glass or flow blue china.  Do you like music? The search can be on for old records, sheet music and vintage instruments (old records, above right, sold at Booth B-128). Sports fans will hit home runs with baseball cards, Olympic pins and athlete autographs. Someone with an interest in sewing can find joy in thimbles, old patterns and vintage fabric.


Even a handyman can transform his workaday talents into a collection of old tools and measuring tapes. Fashion mavens may like vintage clothing, purses, rhinestone pins, sterling lockets or hats (left, hats sold at Booth B-110). Even a persistent traveler can find new territory with vintage postcards and souvenir spoons. Simply let your imagination be your guide and you will surely find a genre to collect.

There are collectors for everything from A to Z: arrowheads, bottles, Coca Cola memorabilia, dolls (below right, sold at Booth S-518), elephant figurines, fishing lures, games, hats, ice cream scoops, jump ropes, key chains, lunch boxes, matchbook covers, newspapers, oil cans, poker chips, quilts, records, stamps, tea towels, umbrellas, vases, watches, X-Man figures, yo-yos and Zippo lighters. As a matter of fact, I would bet that just about anything you can think of, from common to obscure, is being collected by someone, somewhere. So don’t limit yourself. Decide what appeals to you and simply get started.




Once your decision is made, it is both interesting and informative to do research on the items you’ve chosen. Besides giving you historic insight, the knowledge you gain will help you determine prices and value. Check the Internet and look for books that are dedicated to your items. Find out if there are collectors’ clubs for your area of interest. I belong to the Noritake Collectors' Society and receive quarterly newsletters discussing Noritake pieces, company history and collections from around the world. I’ve been to the club’s conventions, during which other Noritake enthusiasts bring special pieces from their collections and share valuable knowledge that they have gathered over the years.

GasLamp is an exciting place to look for items to start a collection or add to one you already have. Any collector who shops there knows that. So as my parting advice, all I can tell you is to enjoy the adventure of the hunt!

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