Thursday, September 8, 2011

Collecting on the Cheap

Are you a collector? Does your heart go pitter patter at the sight of red transferware dishes or monogrammed silverplate or milk glass? In fact, my heart goes pitter patter at the sight of all of those things. :)

But I am also a cheap collector -- it's not just the thrill of the hunt, but also the idea of finding a bargain that appeals to me. And so, I also have to admit that some of the most fun I've ever had has been when I have been searching for shells or fossils or stones -- all free.

I found the fossils in the dish pictured above while on a class trip with my daughter when she was in junior high. We wore old sneakers and walked through a stream where glacial activity had deposited many treasures from thousands of years ago. The kids soon got bored, but I had a ball. :)

When our kids were small, we went on vacation in the Adirondacks, and stayed close to the site of a former garnet mine. I had a blast spending an afternoon seeking out stones with tiny bits of garnet (my birthstone, by the way) in them. :)

I think perhaps I inherited my love of "collecting on the cheap" from my father, who was famous in our family for coming home from the town dump with more things than he had brought there. He was a child of the Depression, when necessity made a virtue of collecting. How wonderful it is to find something useful or beautiful, for a pittance!

So here is my question for you: Are you a collector? What do you collect? What was your best "cheap collecting" moment? Give me your answers in the comments. :)


  1. ohhh!! this is a very nice beautiful

  2. I think everyone’s a collector whether they admit it or not it’s innate to us to hunt and gather. My husband likes to say he collects memories sweet but I like things that are more tangible and collect most anything decorative from the 17th century, it’s the business I’m in. The best thing on the cheap I bought a Chippendale chair for $25 that was in terrible condition until I went to work on it. You have a beautiful blog!

  3. Just wonderful ! Romatic and timeless... Great !

  4. Because of you, Mary, I now collect milk glass.
    Let me just say this...without you I would be nothing.. :)
    And that's just the have been inspiring in many ways. I collect baby clothes..dishes, books..etc. etc.
    (not sure why the baby clothing thing. Just special hand made things that dolls could wear.)

    When I stop in for a visit..I always take a deep breath. It's like coming home.

  5. Oh, I love finding little treasures .... whether on the beach, at flea markets or goodwill stores.

  6. Love this!
    Unfortunately... I think I collect all that you mentioned!
    And that can get a girl into trouble sometimes!
    Gypsea Nurse

  7. Mona, thank you so much!
    Gypsea Nurse, I know exactly what you mean!
    Acquired Objects, what a fabulous find!

  8. I collect heart shaped rocks -- big and little -- from the beaches that I visit. Now that's pretty cheap!

  9. I like to collect in different price ranges so depending on my "situation" on any given day, I can always go "junking". Lately I have been inspired by another blog to collect tree fungus. They are beautiful!!

  10. We always collect shells and coral when on vacation. Plus every trip we take, we pick up a small rock - I have rocks from Morocco, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, England and Paris (including a small piece of pottery found on the road in Versailles) - these rocks are placed in our dry river bed. But my favorite memory was when we gathered some sea whips in Mexico. I framed them and hung them in my bathroom.

  11. There used to be a local auction here every week, and it seemed that I liked the things everyone else didn't. I got several beautiful pieces of transferware for next to nothing.

    If you love milk glass - you should come here (KY). for some reason people don't favor it, and you can hardly give it away!

  12. I wouldn't say that I collect stones, but I often fill my pockets with pebbles: perhaps it is a way of collecting memories - and memories are the most precious things to me.


  13. Hello Mary,

    I'm pretty cheap too.... I collect glass hens on nests, and red transferware, and all sorts of white glass/ceramic animals... but they have to be cheap! I guess my most expensive collection is inside my camera bag. Bad habit. ;)

    Love the sessions you've been doing!

  14. I collect, I think, but not purposefully; so, I don't know. If I had enough extra money....if I had time to search (I think it would have to be ebay, though) I would collect old books and, especially, Beswick cottageware teapots and Beatrix potter figurines. Which makes me think, I do go crazy when I see china dishes - CRAZY! Ooh, aah! =]

    btw, been thinking about collecting fabric - a few yards, here, a few yards, there. I don't really sew very often but...oh, I'm a sucker for textiles!

    Love, to you, Mary! What a pleasant post and lovely, soft photograph!

    Katy xxo

  15. The only thing I seem to collect is picture frames.

  16. Hello Mary - I love to collect beach stones and I've sewn since I was 12 and quilted for the past 30 years so I have a fair bit of fabric stashed. I'm concentrating on using or donating it these days. That was an interesting question.

  17. I raise my glass in honor of being a cheap collector-awesome.


  18. Shells are my favorites, but I love old china too, and I blogged about my wonderful red transferware find.

  19. yes, in some way we are all collectors. Since the 60's I have collected strawberry things. I have over 60, yes 60 strawberry cookie jars, lot's of dishes like Strawberry Fair by Johnson Brothers, small enameled religious medals, shells too since I grew up in Florida, planters - only white Madonna (Blessed Mother) that you got in hospitals years ago with flowers. Gotta love finding a treasure......and I love fabric since I'm a quilter. Thanks for asking.....

    gloria in South Carolina

  20. Oh I have so many things that I love to collect that I can't name them all, (some not so cheap!), but what I love most for cheap and sometimes free is old costume jewelry. Since friends know I do crafts they save all kinds of goodies for me that I recycle into new. Aren't they greatfriends?!

  21. I collect all sorts of things. I think my best, most recent, cheap find were two old Nancy Drew books for a dollar each that I found when I went back to take pictures of the book store where I met my husband twenty-some years ago.

  22. I collect ... cheap things!

    My favorite find this summer is a mahogany tea table (with candle slides) in excellent condition. For $47. Yay.

    Part of the fun of the hunt is getting something for a really good price. If I were a serious collector of anything, which I'm not, I might feel differently.

    But cheap? Oh yes, please.
    PS What a great day today! Hooray ... sun!

  23. Yes always been a collector, bookmarks, postcards, shells, stones. thimbles. Over the years it has been many things. I love the photo you used today for this post.

  24. I am a collector! My best, cheapest find was a box full of very large seashells, coral, and seaglass at a yard sale...couldn't believe they were selling them...but the seller considered them clutter...I paid five dollars...a big piece of coral can cost ten to twenty times more than that!

  25. I am a "cheap" collector,too, Mary! :) I try to find a nice looking rock form every new place I visit. I label them and keep them in a glass fish bowl. I get joy out of looking at them form time to time and remembering where I was when I found them. I also have lots of sea glass collected from beaches in Southern Italy.

    Another "cheap" collectible is books! So many people put book they don't want anymore in boxes in the library labeled "free"! I've found so many good ones that way :)

  26. I am most definitely a collector, and a cheap one at that. I don't have much room for decorations these days (have to all be kept up high from little curious hands), but I always keep an eye out for any and all old sewing notions. I love to sew, and am lucky enough to have a sewing room. And like all "frugal" buyers I get an extra high when I find some pretty items that are useful and decorative. My best find, hands down, was an old cloth sewing box chuck-full of old thread spools, with lots of thread left. They were the cool old wooden ones. Tons of pink and purples and blues, and I am still using them in my little sewing projects, and they look oh-so-vintage-cool in my sewing room.

  27. I collect lots of things and I have to say they are all cheap:) My favorite things to find are cross stiches from the 20th century...

  28. So Pretty, I am a collector but I go though different phases. Now it pretty vases with a floral pattern on them I have a few and there are other things as well.
    Im have some fun getting caught up.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I love to hear what you have to say!