What Do You Collect?

collect antique perfume bottles

What do you collect?

There is just something so wonderful about the way similar objects look grouped together; it brings me a lot of joy. Ingrid Fetell Lee talks about this in Joyful (still one of my favorite books – it’s about the science behind how/why ordinary things can make us so happy). So I know it is not me. Collecting sparks joy! Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved collecting things. Marbles. Rocks and crystals. Beads. Anything small and shiny. When I was really young, I had a tiny purple shell that I carried with me everywhere. On more than one occasion I would leave the shell at dinner, causing my parents to have to drive back to the restaurant and track down the shell.

As I got a little bit older, I was happiest collecting (and organizing) beads. Other kids would be outside playing sports and I would be inside, doing crafts projects but mostly: sorting my beads. To this day, when I see a box filled with neatly organized beads, buttons, rhinestones, or trimmings, my heart skips a beat.

As an adult, my favorite thing to collect is antique perfume bottles.

My grandfather had an incredible collection of glass perfume and apothecary bottles. They lined the staircase of his home, and I still remember when I was a little girl, being absolutely mesmerized by the shelves and shelves of bottles (and my mother watching my sisters and I carefully… “look, don’t touch!”). When my grandfather passed away, his collection was divided up between my mother and my aunt, and my mother has passed a few bottles down to me. My favorite is probably the white bottle in the photo below (these photos are from my old apartment in Brooklyn, by the way!).

My mother has also helped me to build my collection. I am notoriously difficult to shop for and for the past few birthdays she’s found me some absolutely exquisite bottles. Those are my most cherished gifts… so thoughtful, and something I really love.

I also really love collecting notepads and pens from nice hotels. There is something fun (and dare I say slightly glamorous) about making my to-do list on a notepad from The Carlyle or The Beverly Hills Hotel.

collect antique perfume bottles

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  1. Jessica Camerata says 4.27.22

    I love the idea of little antique perfume bottles. The only thing I collect are little travel trinkets. I keep them in a glass dome so I can admire all my travels. I choose the tiniest little trinket to represent my destination that I can bring home.

    xo Jessica
    an indigo day

    • grace at the stripe says 4.27.22

      I love that – and the idea of grouping everything together!!!

  2. Kate says 4.27.22

    The past few years I’ve started to collect mugs. I have no theme to my collection just any time I see a cute one that I have to have. I’ve tried getting a mug for everywhere I’ve travelled too.

    • grace at the stripe says 4.27.22

      That is so fun! I have a friend who does the same thing except with magnets.

  3. Christie says 4.27.22

    I love collecting sea glass, shells, and driftwood! I have them in different types of containers all throughout my bedroom and apartment to keep a nice zen beach feel!

    • grace at the stripe says 4.27.22

      I love that!

  4. Elizabeth Gieske says 4.27.22

    I collect Herend figurines. My mom started the collection buying one for every place we travelled together. I inherited the collection when she passed and I love it! I look for below market price pieces on fbmp and sometimes score a great price. eBay as well.

  5. Allie says 4.27.22

    I used to collect beads too! Sometimes I loved seeing them in the box so much I couldn’t bear to make anything out of them lol! Now I’d say the only collection I have is Christmas ornaments – I always get some whenever we travel. My other collections gradually disappeared every time I moved in my 20s…
    xAllie

  6. mary says 4.27.22

    I collect shark’s teeth because you have to really work to find them and they take up no room. I hope to be able to fill a single jar someday. They always remind me of sunny days at the beach.

  7. CG says 4.27.22

    I collect copper pots and pans! Just trying to love my best Julia Child life!

  8. Ashley says 4.27.22

    I’ve been collecting older glass items by way of my grandma (she’s been doing some purging while living, and the stuff she doesn’t want to sell she’s been passing my way). So far, I have a few midcentury-era milk glass bowls, taper candleholders, a hobnail vase, a ceramic egg coddler, and a carnival-glass catchall. I also have an older carnival-glass set of plates from my great grandma, ice cream bowls, and a pitcher. They’re all kind of random together but using these things makes me feel connected to my grandma and it makes me happy!

  9. Terra says 4.27.22

    I love the way collecting a single object can create a through line in the vignettes of your home—just as you’ve done with the placement of a perfume bottle here and there. It’s one of those super subtle design elements that silently bring a home together!

    I’d be super curious to hear what Rebecca collects, being a designer herself! Maybe fabric stamps?

    Sending love and a big smile from—wait for it—snowy Toronto

  10. Annie says 4.27.22

    Hey there Grace,

    When I think of you collecting from the perspective of a long term reader, I think of the color emerald and how that’s your signature. My mom and I were just talking about how her signature color has changed a few times in her life and why she thinks that may be. I thought your color story might be a cool blog post. Happy trails!

  11. Regina says 4.27.22

    I collect a piece of art from each (more exotic) place I travel or a gold charm for my charm bracelet. The art doesn’t have to be big or expensive, just something that speaks to me. I love to be reminded of fun trips and happy vacations daily around the house and when I dress up.

  12. Caroline says 4.27.22

    I collect Christmas cookie jars. I love them and get a new one each year. I also collect Hallmark Keepsake ornaments and as tacky as they are sometimes, I really love them and spend way too much money each year on them.

  13. Carrie says 4.27.22

    I live walking distance to the beach, so I collect shells. My kids love adding to my collection and are always bringing home a new one. Only the most beautiful ones make the cut and the rest are put in our garden for fairy beds and the like (or back to the beach!). Our home isn’t beachy in a beach home kind of way, but I do keep a single row of beautiful shells on my white mantle. A little nod to the place we live and the people who found them.

  14. N S says 4.27.22

    Books, specifically literature and poetry. Reading is such a pleasure and they look beautiful. I also use them to decorate.

  15. Alyssa says 4.27.22

    I collect the little metal tops on top of champagne corks! Not the corks themselves just the metal tops – its fun to think of places we enjoyed the champs and they take up barely any space! I have them in a pouch right now but I think eventually I’ll frame them.

  16. Denise Atwood says 4.27.22

    Love this post! I collect plants! And shells!!

  17. Judy Holmes says 4.27.22

    It’s been said about me that if I see two of something, I start a collection – ha! Collections from the past & from the present include: rocks, stamps, thimbles, hankies, mugs, citrus reamers, tea pots, shopping bags, religious art, Mary statues, cookbooks, recipes, egg cups, buttons, etc. As I age, I am not the collector I once was but I am happy that so many categories of collections called to me.

    • katie says 4.28.22

      Love that phrase- It describes me as well!

  18. Michelle says 4.27.22

    I love collecting all things stationery! However, my #1 stationery addiction is my wooden stamp collection. My favorites are from Japan, Taiwan, and Malaysia. They bring me so much joy!

    I also collect postcards of places I’ve visited, and I absolutely love it when family and friends sent me postcards during their travels, near and far. My heart fills with love to know that they took the time to write something down, buy a stamp, and track down a mailbox to send it to me while they’re on vacation. It means the world to me! I save all of them.

  19. Rhonda says 4.27.22

    I’ve started a crazy impractical brooch collection because I was given a couple of beautiful brooches when my godmother passed away. I collect vintage costume brooches. Some of the brands I love are Tifari, Elsa Schiaparelli & D&E Juliana. Why? I don’t wear brooches, but there is something about looking at the sparkly brooches in my jewelry box whenever I open it. It makes me so happy. I will wear one on a coat when I go out, but I live in California and very rarely need more than a light sweater. For all reasons it’s completely impractical, but I LOVE them! I really like Jessica’s of Anindigoday comment about displaying trinkets under a glass dome. That might work for me too! My second collection going is Christmas trees. I love mercury glass, crystal, ceramic, and I just invested in a beautiful tree from an Etsy seller that is all sea glass! My husband just rolls his eyes and grumbles about storage, but he somehow always finds a way to wrap them all up carefully and store. 🙂

  20. Lynnbcroland says 4.27.22

    I love these too and my Grandma had a collection of them that my sister has inherited. We will not discuss that because I got many things , but they were scrolled silver and cranberry glass . They say a parent does not have a favorite child but in my case I think I was a bit of a hippie type to my mom and my sister was exactly like her . She never really did “get me entirely” or my free spirit but I know that she loved me as best as she could . You are so lucky that way. We were 3 girls too so it gad to be hard for her bring so old fashioned with a very mind of her own daughter like me .

  21. Shannon says 4.27.22

    I collect vintage cocktail glasses. I love having a a drink in a proper, delicate and beautiful glass. I have several sets passed down from family and friends and I enjoy hunting for the perfect additions to my collection. It’s also important to me that we use this collection. They just make me happy.

  22. Brit says 4.27.22

    I collect Christmas ornaments from places I’ve traveled. I love hunting for a beautiful new ornament when I’m visiting a new place. And I love looking at my tree and being reminded of trips I’ve taken.

  23. Ally says 4.27.22

    I love this post! What a great collection you have!

    I collect brass animals – started with an elephant I picked up in a vintage shop and really snowballed from there.

    I also collect Pride & Prejudice in other languages whenever I travel outside the US. It’s my favorite book!

  24. Annaliese says 4.28.22

    I have collected key chains since I was 5 years old! I think I have over 100 now. In college, I started collecting Starbucks You Are Here mugs when I travel, and I now have a decent collection of those as well.

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

  25. Sarah @ Fewer & Better says 4.28.22

    I wrote about my collections on my blog last month here: https://www.fewerandbetterblog.com/what-do-you-collect/! I love the meaning behind your collection!

  26. katie says 4.28.22

    I wish I was about to name just one item that I collect, but alas, I collect about 10 different things : ornaments, matchboxes, coffee table books, shopping bags or boxes, and postcards to name a few.

  27. Casey says 4.28.22

    I collect pins from all of the places I’ve been. I started in elementary school when I went with my family to visit a few family friends in Europe and have been collecting ever since! My biggest struggle has been figuring out how to display them though – right now they’re just sitting in a couple containers on a shelf.

    • mimi says 5.3.22

      I have 12 Mickey Mouse icon pins and a couple of Winnie the Pooh and Stitch pins.
      I have chosen to buy a solid color apron for when I cook or do dishes. I change out my pins on my apron monthly. Just thought I’d share my idea as it works for me.

  28. Kari says 4.28.22

    I have a very treasured collection of post cards. My dad traveled a lot for work when I was growing up and would send me post cards from everywhere he went. My mom had saved every single one for me. As I’ve grown up I’ve added my own from my travels. When I look at them it makes me feel connected to my dad and gives me a sense of adventure!

  29. Ellie says 5.1.22

    I have a couple collections…I think my most sentimental are postcards from everywhere I travel and business cards or coasters from restaurants that are sentimental or special. I also collect the little Delft KLM houses and blue and white bread and butter plates 🙂

  30. Elizabeth says 5.2.22

    I love this!! I collect jewelry, especially from new places and for major life events/achievements. In addition, I have a charm bracelet with a charm from everywhere I have traveled on it.
    Sticking with travel, we have a travel wall & pick up a small piece of art from our adventures.

    I love my jewelry collection because I can carry a piece & the memories from a trip, event, or person who gave it to me with me when I wear it!

  31. Taylor says 5.4.22

    I’ve been accumulating tea cups and matchbooks. There’s just something old-Hollywood about a matchbook to me that brings me so much joy!