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Trash Collector

So I just picked up the new Radiohead CD — Hail to the Thief. It was available in a plain-Jane jewel case, as well as a fancy, fold-out, poster/brochure/sleeve case. The fancier package was touted as a “Collector’s Edition”, and cost $4 more than the non-collector’s edition. Everything these days seem to come in a “Collector’s Edition” or a “Special Collection” or “Limited Edition Collection.”

Just got me thinking as to what else I “Collect”. Like many designers I know, I collect lots of different things — most of which only have value to me. I have a collection of toy rayguns. I have a collection of wind-up robots; antique cameras; transistor radios; metal cogs and gears; state park patches; cool pens; and design watches. I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch of other things collecting dust in my basement.

I always thought that my urge to collect crap was related to my love and fetishism for the design of all things. Perhaps.

I know many other designers that collect some of the craziest things — from snowglobes to bank calendars. Tell me — what do you collect? It can be intangible things also — like dirty jokes, baseball stadiums, good meals, etc.

Share your sickness with us.

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PUBLISHED ON Jun.10.2003 BY Tan
kev’s comment is:

a friend of mine collects airline emergency cards.. the ones you aren't supposed to take off the plane. He had a bunch in different languages and we always laughed at the 70s style drawings and calm faces on those plunging toward their deaths. Also another friend collects old cameras, or at least he did when he was on a salary and could ebay them up as quickly as he could get paid.

On Jun.10.2003 at 05:18 PM
graham’s comment is:

concrete poetry/typey books (i.e. buckminster fuller 'i seem to be a verb' or jerry rubin 'do it', mcluhan etc.). trainers-i don't keep them ds, i always wear them. debts.

On Jun.10.2003 at 05:22 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> a friend of mine collects airline emergency cards..

oooh...I just saw a cool book at the design bookstore here. It's nothing but a huge collection of these things, and not just from airlines, but from trains, ships, buses, etc. Next time by, I'll get the name.

George Carlin has a great bit -- goes something like: "I love how the attendance tells me that in the event of an emergency, to put on my mask and breathe normally...well I'll tell you what. I'll put on my mask and also shit normally."

On Jun.10.2003 at 05:28 PM
Sam’s comment is:

I have about 150 brown paper deli bags, each with a different inspector's name printed on the bottom.

Tan, was that book Open Here, or is there a new one out?

On Jun.10.2003 at 05:35 PM
DREW’s comment is:

old amplifier tube packaging, cigar boxes, retro appliances, childrens school books (epic illustrations), Signage and big letters I find at the junk yard. old album covers, wine bottle labels, etc, etc , etc,

It is an addiction!!!!

On Jun.10.2003 at 05:44 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

In the July issue of Metropolis, there is a piece on page 148 called "Cabinets of Curiosity: For designers who collect the cluttered workspace is a library of inspiration." Cool desks and walls showing collections from people like Maria Kalman, Glaser, and Speak Up participator Scott Stowell.

On Jun.10.2003 at 05:59 PM
griff’s comment is:

Mexican wrestling masks. Displayed in my office, visitors always assume are strange s&m/bondage masks so they never ask, but go home to tell their friends what a pervert I am.

Oh, and I also collect souls of the walking dead.

On Jun.10.2003 at 05:59 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> Oh, and I also collect souls of the walking dead.

You too? We should share sometimes.

You know, my name is Tan. As in Sa-tan. (lightning..thunder...a black rottweiler appears from nowhere).

Kev, Sam -- the book of airline emergency cards is called Design For Impact.

On Jun.10.2003 at 06:14 PM
DREW’s comment is:

I collect my parking tickets

On Jun.10.2003 at 06:21 PM
pnk’s comment is:

I have a pretty nice collection of lenticular prints, largely of the 3D-Jesus variety, but with a few choice girls-removing-clothing/winking specimens as well.

On Jun.10.2003 at 06:32 PM
Jesus de Francisco’s comment is:

car parking stubs.

slide rulers.

those little plastic thingies that seal the sliced bread bags.

anythig with numerals printed on it —the bigger the better—

On Jun.10.2003 at 06:44 PM
Jesus de Francisco’s comment is:

also, sour memories of failed pitches...

On Jun.10.2003 at 06:56 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I also collect rocks and stones with recognizable patterns. I have a few with type shapes on them.

This is the best one so far -- I promise it's untouched by photoshop.

Garamond condensed lowercase 'a' rock.

On Jun.10.2003 at 07:23 PM
corey’s comment is:

Speaking of rocks with patterns on them - the other day i was wandering through the alley behind work and found a broken piece of marble that someone had painted a perfect callipgraphic "Yes" onto. It was very strange and beautiful, so I had to take it home. It sits on my mantle now.

Sadly, I collect cloisonne pins. Now you know, go ahead and mock.

I also have a sketchbook filled with interesting receipts and forms. Japanese customs forms, change of address forms, receipts that were printed incorrectly, that sort of thing.

And one last thing - I was going through the flat files the other day and found Ed Fella's xerox machine card. It's a weird thing to find in one's stuff, but I've got stranger things in the flat files.

On Jun.10.2003 at 07:33 PM
Grant Hutchinson’s comment is:



Polaroid cameras.

Vintage type specimen books.

Macintosh viruses on floppy disk.

Those rectangular red plastic sticks that come with the snack 'n cheese packages. They sort of remind me of the monolith in 2001, except you can fit about three hundred and twenty seven of them in a standard quart-sized glass milk bottle. (Which I also collect.)

On Jun.10.2003 at 08:10 PM
Michael S’s comment is:

I enjoy collecting bottle caps from beer's around the world.

On Jun.10.2003 at 08:39 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:


Magazines (more of a mess then a collection - goodies go into scrapbooks)


Random chatchka's

Our local Chinese restaurant separates their take-out food in paper bags with pieces of cardboard like this:

They get collected.

On Jun.10.2003 at 08:43 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

Garamond condensed lowercase 'a' rock.

That is so crazy, you must have flipped when you came across it.

On Jun.10.2003 at 08:45 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

Wood type

Type specimen books

Luggage labels

Baseball tickets (not really about design)

On Jun.10.2003 at 10:26 PM
jose’s comment is:

Japanese Toy Robots




On Jun.10.2003 at 11:49 PM
Christopher May’s comment is:

- ancient egyptian scarabs and ushabtis

- ancient roman oil lamps

- street / band posters

- flyers

- action figures

- records ( HOUSE STYLE!!!)

- photos

- comics

- african masks

- kipple

... and that's about the limit to what i can convince my wife is not junk.

On Jun.11.2003 at 03:02 AM
Marc’s comment is:

- lenticular anything

- yo-yos (especially homemade ones)

- cheap kites

- all those crazy, bindery-intensive issues of Nest magazine

- the holographic tags from my credit cards for the last twenty years

- Old Polaroid cameras

- AA batteries...from around the world

- creatives featuring fingerprint motifs

- empty Icespresso cups (no, wait. Just forgot to throw 'em away)

On Jun.11.2003 at 05:06 AM
steve’s comment is:

toys with brains...any chatchka depicting an enormous brain.

odd brian wilson / beach boy recordings.

posters. music, design events, whatever i fancy.

and the DNA of extinct animals...

On Jun.11.2003 at 06:42 AM
steve’s comment is:

I almost forgot the geekiest of them all...

french paper co. giveaways. I have most of the stuff they created but far from a complete collection...

On Jun.11.2003 at 06:45 AM
Mike Langlie’s comment is:

Ooh, excellent topic for us with OCD...

Fisher Price Little People "Lucky" dogs (have about 30 of the regular size, a few giant puzzle dogs, and still looking for an affordable dalmation version)

Toy skeletons (my wife's childhood imaginary friend was a skeleton!)

Antique toy typewriters

Vintage plastic bunnies (with frighteningly jovial expressions)

Innovative CD packaging

Handmade mini comix

Bettie Page items

Toy pianos!!!

Maybe we should set up a trade/wish list? ;)

On Jun.11.2003 at 08:05 AM
Adrian’s comment is:

Computer Parts


Tons of Software Manuals and Books

Tin Toys

Vintage Space Toys

Vinatge Sci-Fi Books

Stock Photography Books

Pens/Pencils/Other Desk Paraphernalia

Business Cards

That's just the stuff I can see on my desk right now.

On Jun.11.2003 at 08:49 AM
armin’s comment is:

Call me a sissy but me and my wife collect stuffed animals. We have stopped buying for a while, because they take up lots of space. We have an extensive collection of the world’s fauna. My favorite is a sea ray, she's really cool and strange to find. They must meet tough requirements to fit into our collection, we don't buy just any stuffed animal; they must be fluffy, have personality of their own, not cartoony, and not too realistic either, otherwise we freak out. We also name all of them, I tend to forget their names and my wife gets pissed when that happens.

I also collect movie ticket stubs. Which my wife has stapled together into a 5 x 3 feet "poster," very conceptualistic if you ask me. I used to collect cans of soda and beer, but I threw them away, I had some really cool beer cans from Cuba, wish I would have kept those.

Just recently, I started keeping my Altoid tins. All pepermint. I have 9 so far.

On Jun.11.2003 at 09:00 AM
armin’s comment is:

> records ( HOUSE STYLE!!!)

Of course!

On Jun.11.2003 at 09:01 AM
luumpo’s comment is:

I don't collect anything.

I can't stand having things around me that have no purpose.

On Jun.11.2003 at 10:23 AM
felix’s comment is:



design books from 50's.


On Jun.11.2003 at 11:11 AM
Tan’s comment is:

> Maybe we should set up a trade/wish list?

Mike -- your collections sound awesome! Especially the old Fisher Price stuff.

My wife and I have a collection of all of the old Fisher Price playsets -- the schoolhouse, the suburbia house, the garage. We also have an entire set of old Fisher Price construction vehicles -- 6 altogether. The graphics are wonderfully nostalgic, and in my opinion, far superior to today's extruded, holographic, realistic toys for kids.

Some old toys are just the weirdest shit you've ever seen.

It would be cool to trade -- I see they're plenty of toy robot collectors here.

My wife collects metal lunchboxes -- we have about 40 of them. I bring/use a Six Million Dollar Man lunchbox for work every week. I also have a perfect conditioned Evel Knievel lunchbox that gets used.

She also collects cool cookie jars, novelty pencil sharpeners shaped like things, and old cookbooks.

She found an old Aunt Jemima cookie jar at a garage sale for $15 -- it's been listed in books and eBay for $2,000. We're saving it for our retirement.

> Armin: Call me a sissy but me and my wife collect stuffed animals. We also name all of them

Dude. We need to have an intervention. Friends don't let friends go wuss.

On Jun.11.2003 at 11:24 AM
Chris’s comment is:

Stuffed monkeys


Baseball Cards

On Jun.11.2003 at 11:49 AM
Adrian’s comment is:

Weeble-Wobbles - hard to find though

"weeble-wobbles wobble but they don't fall down"

On Jun.11.2003 at 12:25 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:




Tintin, Asterix & Obelix, and Danger Mouse comics

My Mom

Fireking, Fiestaware, and Yelloware dishes

Bakelite things

Old: postcards, birdhouses and cages, hunting decoys, mickey mouse and doll heads, and billiard supplies...

Religious stuff

40's & 50's toys, magazines, and things

Lot's of chatchka's that can't be defined.

On Jun.11.2003 at 12:36 PM
Ashton Kutcher’s comment is:

really bad movie reviews and chick's underwear

On Jun.11.2003 at 12:59 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> chick's underwear

Ok, the bus is now stopping. All socially-unacceptable collectors will please disembark.

Let's keep this reasonably, I dunno...legal, folks.

On Jun.11.2003 at 01:05 PM
Adrian’s comment is:

I don't think chicks underwear is illegal. Tasteful maybe a better request.

On Jun.11.2003 at 01:14 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> Weeble-Wobbles

Saw the entire WW treehouse set, including the box and figures, at an antique mall once for $1,400.

Should've kept all my toys -- could've made a second career. Who knew?

On Jun.11.2003 at 01:18 PM
Adrian’s comment is:

Who knew?

Not my parents.

On Jun.11.2003 at 01:24 PM
griff’s comment is:

Sorry Tan and Adrian, the humor was supposed to be in the false name (Ashton Kutcher, an annoyingly bad actor with a huge under 18 female following) and the stupidity of the answer, not in the idea of being vulgar.

A regreted attempt at humor is retracted.

I get two more strikes before being banned for life, right?

On Jun.11.2003 at 01:44 PM
Bryan’s comment is:

I'm obsessed with third-tier sports like indoor lacrosse, the old USFL and indoor soccer. I collect media guides and vintage jerseys from these teams, particularly the Major Indoor Soccer League's Cleveland Force. The ugly beauty of some of these logos is fascinating.

On Jun.11.2003 at 01:49 PM
armin’s comment is:

>the humor was supposed to be in the false name

I got the joke Griff, don't listen to those uptight bastards!

>an annoyingly bad actor with a huge under 18 female following

Although she is rolling with Demi (40 yrs) now... yeah, uhu, that's right, I read the tabloids, so sue me.

On Jun.11.2003 at 01:56 PM
Tan’s comment is:

...griff, my bad for not getting the reference. whoosh, right over my head.

He's the That 70's Show guy dating Demi Moore, right?

Strike retracted considering the context -- hey, I'm not easily offended. Just looking out for the female lurkers out there I guess.

And btw, I assume it takes many, many strikes to get banned from anything. My "fuck" usage count is up to 80+ or something.

On Jun.11.2003 at 01:56 PM
Tan’s comment is:

uptight? I'll show ya uptight Vit.

Go back to your teddy bears...I think "Cuddles" is calling for you.

(Arm, you're going to catch soo much shit for that you know.)

On Jun.11.2003 at 02:01 PM
armin’s comment is:

>My "fuck" usage count is up to 80+ or something.


>Go back to your teddy bears...I think "Cuddles" is calling for you.

We don't give them stupid names like that dude, we give 'em real names, like Vicente, Ralph, Felix (yeah just like our own Sockwell.)

>(Arm, you're going to catch soo much shit for that you know.)

HAHAHaaa, I know. I should have kept that to myself.

On Jun.11.2003 at 02:17 PM
Mike Langlie’s comment is:

My wife and I actualy make our own stuffed creatures. And my family gives us sock monkey related things for some reason.

On Jun.11.2003 at 02:27 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> We don't give them stupid names like that dude, we give 'em real names, like Vicente, Ralph, Felix

..stop, just stop...really, there's no way to get ahead of this Armin. Real names are even worse.

And no matter how affectionate the gesture might be (and warmly appreciated) -- please don't name one after me.

Maybe the Stitch character doll, or a bulldog or ...fuck!...what the hell am I saying?


On Jun.11.2003 at 02:27 PM
Tan’s comment is:

That's cool Mike!

I have a 4 yr old daughter who'd love one of those.

On Jun.11.2003 at 02:30 PM
vrturlennui’s comment is:

I collect extremely specific, mostly hard-to-find, undesirables. The uglier, the better in my opinion. It keeps people giving me a whole lot of crap I don't want just because they know I collect it, and keeps my collections small, which is good because I don't have a lot of space to store frivolous knick-knacks.

Among my favorites:

1950s and 60s ceramic figurines with JAPAN stamped on the bottom.

plastic animal coinbanks with fuzzy coverings and 2-tone brown and amber plug-in eyes.

antique taxidermy

pre-1980s Jell-O cookbooks

late 70s and early 80s JC Penny's catalogs

1930s-50s books on advertising/graphic design

turn of the century children's books/illustrated books/graphics

I love novelty-themed (TV/movie/religious/mod) board games, but unfortunatly have to pass them up most of the time because they take up too much space.

When I was in high school, I collected plastic bibs from fast food restaurants. I wish I would have kept them.

On Jun.11.2003 at 02:34 PM
Ginny ’s comment is:

I collect pigs. But they cannot be "pink" or "cartoony". They have to be weathered, or made out of clay or metal...i guess it's hard to explain. And they can't be near eachother. I disperse them around the house to "disguise" my evil collecting ways.

art, books, magazines (although I am trying to purge)

old cameras (which I've halted on for the last few years)

I've found that when I start collecting something, after time, I freak out a little and ask myself, why? What am I doing? I'm a minimalist designer who is filling up my space with a lot of junk. It's a bit oxymoronic with a touch of irony.

On Jun.11.2003 at 03:10 PM
rebecca’s comment is:


anything pre-1970 to do with physical fitness

old-school ticket stubs, the kind that say admit one

books about magic tricks

old farm catalogues

On Jun.11.2003 at 04:35 PM
Aaron Russell’s comment is:

I collect hockey jerseys. I find that when I wear them, people assume I'm a die hard fan of the particular team I happen to be wearing. I discovered the real reason I like the jerseys when I got a summer job at a silkscreening / embroidery plant. There was an applique studio there where team crests were built. Its the logo design not the teams themselves I like. The actual medium of fabric and thread. Also, as teams go under, so does there logo, so I wanted to preserve the old designs. Anyone have an old Atlanta Flames? Thanks

On Jun.12.2003 at 02:24 PM
kai bernau’s comment is:

i collect

web images of lettering and type and record sleeves (esp. '77 punk singles)

ancient mobile phones

music on cd and, since shortly, vinyl, especially colored vinyl

my name or things like that in lead and wood type

(no room for whole boxes)

typeface specimens (analog and digital)

ancient typefaces (the software) on 5.25 inch floppies that ppl threw away.

my own and other people's failed photographs

(like, portr´┐Żits that go only up to the nose, accident trigger pullings, over-/underexposures)

i used to make 'diary' snapshots with an olympus 'mju:'

(about 36 pics/week) and had them as 3 x 4 inch exp. with a white border, but that grew expensive.

it also annoyed people a lot.


My wife and I actualy make our own stuffed creatures

wow these are really nice.

can i buy 'skully'? would make a lovely birthday present :)


On Jun.13.2003 at 04:34 AM
rhia’s comment is:

pre-1950s family photo albums.

7" records priced at 50¢ or less, especially those with handmade sleeves.

artist's statements from gallery walls.

the artist's statements are my primary focus right now, although they can be pretty difficult to acquire. you have to be there right when they're taking down the show. once obtained, however, they are priceless! some people have the most hilarious ways of describing their work -- but we have to forgive them because they're visual, not verbal artists.

On Jun.13.2003 at 01:23 PM
Mike Langlie’s comment is:

can i buy 'skully'? would make a lovely birthday present :)

Sorry Kai, that was a gift for my own wife. :) It's a blend of our personalities, she with the skeletons and me with the plastic bunnies. Our friends call us "whimsigothical."

On Jun.13.2003 at 10:26 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Hey Tan! I got something for you buddy. Hahaha... check it.

On Jun.14.2003 at 11:36 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

I got something for you buddy.

Tan, I think the "intervention" is necessary. :)

On Jun.14.2003 at 02:15 PM
Tan’s comment is:

It looks like we're too late Kiran. Armin's gone native.

On Jun.16.2003 at 07:49 AM
Beckster’s comment is:

Rubber duckies.


Every ticket to every event/movie/play/concert/show I have ever attended.

Business cards.

The souls of mine enemies.

On Jun.17.2003 at 11:47 AM
Corbyn’s comment is:

I collect antique cameras. When I first started collecting, I thought I was cool and original. Come to find out, every designer, film maker, or photographer collects old cameras. I guess I am not cool.

On Jun.17.2003 at 11:52 AM
joy olivia’s comment is:

my first collection when i was little was paper napkins -- everything from the cheesy ones at birthday parties to the generic ones from restaurants.

now i collect too many things to list, but my primary passion when thrifting includes buying up big band LPs, cookbooks and sewing books from 1950 and earlier, and cheesy retro costume jewelry.

On Jun.17.2003 at 12:04 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> I collect antique cameras.

I too have a box-o-crappy cameras in my basement. I now collect only quirky, unknown gems. I'd call them more vintage rather than antique.

My fave is the Minolta 16mm spy camera. Once in a blue moon, I'll spot one at a garage sale for $10. They were imitations of the Minox B series spy cameras.

dunno if they were really used by spies, but they're cool.

On Jun.17.2003 at 01:02 PM
Brenda’s comment is:

Fountain pens--old ones schoolkids used in class, and new! expensive! Watermans and Montblancs and Parkers! Rotring, Lamy! Uhhh, Schaffer! Don't matter!

Next: A Yard-O-Led, please. beautiful pens--ugly name.

Old office supplies, I mean OLD. Ledger books from the 1920's, ancient t-squares and staplers. I have a BLANK Social Security ledger book, beautiful, around 1950 or so.

Dip pens. Calligraphy pens. Markers. Roller balls. Gel pens. Glass pens. Quill pens. Drafting pens. Did I say pens?

On Jul.07.2003 at 06:21 PM
Toni’s comment is:

I collect crucifixes, naive art, old photos and letters by strangers, art books, vintage aprons and all sorts of found objects I use in making assemblage art jewelry.....

On Jul.15.2003 at 01:37 AM
Toni’s comment is:

oops- forgot those free postcard advertisements in the back of bars and restaurants you know, the ones usually by the toilet? well, they have them all over the world now..... I have a couple of shoe boxes of them.

flower brooches (old ones- 60's ish)

electronic images - like cool illustrations, icons, fonts... normal designy stuff.

On Jul.15.2003 at 01:50 AM
laura’s comment is:

I collect old and new skateboards. My favorite? Mark Rogowsky (Gator) Vision deck, with a pink elephant Vans sticker on it, still in tact. It would make a nice lamp table.

On Jul.18.2003 at 12:45 PM
Paul’s comment is:

Do you mean one of these, Laura? That was my first deck!

(And no, that's Gator, not me.)

On Jul.18.2003 at 01:27 PM
Laura’s comment is:

Yup, that's the one! RIJ (Rest in Jail) Gator.

On Jul.21.2003 at 11:53 AM
David E.’s comment is:

Actually, the "Gator" who murdered his girlfriend was Mark Anthony, not this guy.

On Jul.21.2003 at 12:31 PM
David E.’s comment is:

...or should I have said "was convicted of..."

Anyhow, I collect old record albums and foreign food and cigarette packaging.

On Jul.21.2003 at 12:37 PM
Laura’s comment is:

Sure that is. Girlfriend/ surfbag. The whole deal. Doesn't matter. There's a movie coming out about him soon.

On Jul.25.2003 at 09:27 AM
Christy’s comment is:

Can someone help me please. I picked up a couple of old skateboards& I was wanting to find more info on them. I first learned to skate on this type of board & it was my dads so i'm really wanting to find out about them. Thank you! :)

On Nov.14.2003 at 03:01 PM
DALANA’s comment is:


On Nov.20.2003 at 06:57 PM
KC’s comment is:

Hi I collect sand...From around the world.

Great free souvenier, I never feel bad asking friends to bring me some. I have sand from holy places, fantastic islands, dream voyages and coast to coast U.S. They are displayed in my nautical themed bathroom in old corked bottles. They look really cool!

On Jan.15.2004 at 01:55 PM