Almost everyone collects something. Sometimes a collector does not even realize they can be called one. For example, the person who clips and saves recipes is a collector of recipes. We even have a name for someone who collects everything compulsively – a hoarder.

If you are reading this article, you are probably doing so for one of three reasons:

  • You may wish to start a collection.
  • You may have some things around and wish to know if what you have saved counts as a collection.
  • You may be curious about what other people collect.

We will begin by giving you some collection ideas in case you have decided collecting may be a fun pastime. Next, we will share some things people collect, from the common to the unusual. Finally, we will look at what we classify as collecting hobbies and the most popular collecting hobbies. Read on for all the information you need about things to collect.

Collection Ideas

Perhaps you know you would like to collect something. Maybe some of your friends or family have collections they enjoy. So, how do you decide what to collect? Well, the first thing to decide is what do you enjoy? Now, you may have to be careful. If you love cats, you may not want to collect a great many live pets; doing so is expensive and somewhat unhealthy, unless you have a large estate with plenty of room to let your cats roam outside. But, you could collect pictures of cats, cat salt and pepper shakers, or even small statues of cats. Below we have listed a number of collection ideas, some rather common, and some unique. Hopefully, reading through the list will help you decide what to collect.

Our first group of ideas are based upon specific interests. Whatever you enjoy, there will be a number of collecting options available. You can be as general or specific as you wish. For example, some collectors who love motorcycles concentrate on anything with a Harley Davison logo.

Enjoy Automobiles or Motorcycles

  • Car Antenna Toppers
  • Helmets
  • Key Chains
  • License Plates
  • Matchbox Cars
  • Model Cars or Motorcycles
  • Oil Cans
  • Vintage Cars and Motorcycles

Love the Beach

  • Driftwood
  • Sand from Different Beaches
  • Seashells
  • Sunglasses
  • Surfboards

Travel or Would Like To

  • Brochures
  • Maps
  • Postcards
  • Travel Stickers
  • Vintage Suitcases

Love Sports

  • Baseball Cards
  • NFL Memorabilia
  • Olympic Medals
  • Super Bowl Rings
  • Tickets to Sporting Events

Out on the Town Frequently

  • Beer Cans
  • Beer Steins
  • Bottle Caps
  • Coasters
  • Menus
  • Restaurant Menus
  • Shot Glasses
  • Swizzle Sticks
  • Whiskey Labels

Enjoy Cooking

  • Banana (or other fruit) Labels
  • Juice Boxes
  • Recipe Books
  • Recipes
  • Salt and Pepper Shakers
  • Spices (some exotic)
  • Vintage Kitchen Utensils
  • Vintage Small Kitchen Appliances

There are many collection ideas. Basically, if it can be collected, it probably is by someone. The list that follows concentrates on small, easy to collect items.

Things of One Colour or Composition

For example, collect everything blue, or concentrate on one blue item, such as blue flowers in your garden. You might also wish to look for things made from a certain material, such as carved wooden figurines, handmade cloth dolls, or vintage crochet pieces.

Small Sewing Items

Thimbles, buttons, and spools of thread are easily collected and displayed.

Small Antique Items

  • Antique Bells
  • Antique crosses
  • Snuff Boxes
  • Spoons

Paper Collectibles

  • Autographs
  • Bookmarks
  • Business Cards
  • Candy Wrappers
  • Old Colouring Pages
  • Paper Dolls
  • Vintage Labels

Things People Collect

When we look at things people collect, we find no limit to people’s imagination and creativity. Any group of more than a few items of a similar type can be called a collection. The size may range from a friend’s 100+ collection of wall and mantel clocks to hundreds of coins or over a thousand marbles. Collectible items can be as common as cereal boxes or as hard to obtain as dinosaur bones. Our list has items most common for collecting, but remember, you can choose to collect anything.

  • Alarm Clocks
  • Antique Furniture
  • Antique Weapons
  • Apothecary Jars
  • Arrowheads
  • Arrows
  • Ashtrays
  • Autographs
  • Axes and Hatchets
  • Back Scratchers
  • Badges (law, firemen, etc.)
  • Belt Buckles
  • Birdhouses
  • Blown Glass Animals and Figurines
  • Blueprints
  • Bookends
  • Calculators
  • Calendars – Vintage
  • Cameras
  • Candles
  • Candlesticks
  • Canes or Walking Sticks
  • Carved Decoupage Ostrich, Porcelain, and Faberge Eggs
  • Cash Registers
  • Cassette Tapes
  • Christmas Ornaments and Lights
  • Cigar Boxes
  • Cigarette Cases
  • Clocks
  • Coffee Mugs
  • College Pennants
  • Comic Books
  • Compasses
  • Computers
  • Corkscrews
  • Correspondence from Famous People
  • Crate Labels
  • Decorative Tiles
  • Decorative Wall Outlet Covers
  • Dentistry or Medical Tools
  • Depression Glass
  • Dolls
  • Door Knockers
  • Drive-in Movie Theatre Speakers
  • Duck Calls and Decoys
  • Dukes of Hazzard Memorabilia
  • Dust Jackets from Books
  • Election Buttons
  • Elvis (or another entertainer) Memorabilia
  • Fans – Handheld
  • Fishing Lures, Poles, and Tackle
  • Flags
  • Guitar Picks
  • Guitars
  • Gumball Machines
  • Guns – Collectible
  • Halloween Memorabilia
  • Harmonicas
  • Hatpins
  • Hats
  • Hood Ornaments
  • Hummel Figurines
  • Ice Skates
  • Inkwells
  • Japanese Warrior Dolls
  • Jigsaw Puzzles
  • Journals Kept by Famous People
  • Knives
  • Kool-Aid Memorabilia
  • Legos
  • Letter Openers
  • Lithographs
  • Locks
  • Lunchboxes
  • Magazines
  • Magnifying Glasses
  • Mandolins
  • Masks
  • Mason jars
  • Meteorites
  • Microscopes
  • Milk Glass
  • Mirrors
  • Model Planes
  • Model Railroads
  • Model Ships
  • Mortars and pestles
  • Motorcycles
  • Movie and TV Scripts
  • Movie Posters
  • Native American Artefacts and Jewellery
  • Newspapers
  • Nutcrackers
  • Old Tools
  • Paperweights
  • Photographs
  • Picture Frames
  • Pinball Machines
  • Plants – House or Garden
  • Porcelain Dolls
  • Pots, Old Pans, and Cauldrons
  • Purses
  • Sheet Music
  • Shoes
  • Skateboards
  • Snow Globes
  • Snuff Boxes
  • Spectacles or Reading Glasses
  • Stock Certificates
  • Street Signs
  • Sundials
  • Swords (antique)
  • Tea Cups with Saucers
  • Telescopes
  • Toys (antique or vintage)
  • Troll Dolls (from the ’70s)
  • Vintage Valentines
  • Wall Sconces
  • Wallets
  • Water Goblets
  • Watermelon (or any other fruit) Collectibles
  • Weathervanes
  • Wedding Dresses or Vintage Clothing
  • Whisky
  • Whistles
  • Wicker Furniture
  • Wind Chimes
  • Wolf or Other Animal Figurines
  • Wrappers
  • Wreaths
  • Wristbands
  • Yo-yos
  • Zippers
  • Zippo Lighters

Collecting Hobbies

Your collection becomes a hobby when you have a number of items and they are catalogued or arranged in a particular method or order. Make sure you do some research on the collection you choose to determine cost, availability, and the space you will need to house your collection. You can also find suggestions on how to display your collection.

Collecting is not only fun. There several benefits of collecting hobbies.

Collecting can build one’s expertise in a particular area.

Many collectors begin either quite by chance or out of curiosity. However, as one’s collecting grows, you should find yourself researching to build a foundational knowledge of your items. As your collecting continues, you will probably find a niche that particularly interests you. You may even become an expert in a particular area.

Collecting helps build organizational skills.

Organizing your collection separates the serious collector from someone who simply accumulates things. Seeking to classify and understand each item in your collection also teaches systematic thinking.

Collecting can be profitable.

Although most collectors do not begin with the idea of profitability, some collections become quite valuable. Remember, if you collect anything vintage or antique, the value only increases with age.
Below is a list of common collecting hobbies, many of which are suitable for the beginning collector and most of which do not take a great amount of space.

  • Arrowheads
  • Autographs
  • Barbed Wire
  • Bells
  • Boxes
  • Boy or Girl Scout Memorabilia
  • Comic Books
  • Cracker Jack Toys
  • Crosses
  • Dice
  • Dried Flowers and Plants
  • Feathers
  • Fountain Pens
  • Happy Meal Toys
  • Insects
  • Keys
  • Lace
  • Magnets
  • Marbles
  • Matchbooks
  • Nails
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Pepsi or Coke Merchandise (Old Soda Bottles)
  • Perfume bottles
  • PEZ Candy Dispensers
  • Playing Cards
  • Pocket Knives
  • Pottery
  • Puppets
  • Purses
  • Puzzles
  • Quilts
  • Rare and Exotic Fish
  • Restaurant Memorabilia (KFC, Taco Bell, etc.)
  • Rock and Mineral Specimens
  • Specialty Bars of Soap
  • Stamps
  • Teddy Bears
  • Ticket Stubs
  • Ties
  • T-shirts
  • VHS Tapes
  • Video Games
  • Vinyl Records
  • Wallets
  • Wallpaper
  • Wildflowers or Tree Leaves
  • Wine

Most Popular Collecting Hobbies

Although a list of the most popular collecting hobbies can change, we have listed those currently considered the most popular. Serious collectors avoid impulse buys and research excessively. Our list includes some suggestions on how to begin, some steps to take to grow your collection, along with some interesting ideas for related collections.

  • Watches
    If you want an investment-grade collection, you will need to spend between 6,000 to $10,000 for each watch. However, you can find some attractive watches for much less if you are simply collecting for pleasure. I have several old watches that are family pieces I keep for sentimental reasons. You might consider collecting a specific type of time piece, such as pocket watches. Pawn shops might be a good place to start if you simply want to collect unique and attractive watches.
  • Jewellery
    There are many types of jewellery one can collect, among them:
    Bakelite jewellery
    Memorial Jewellery (coffin rings, etc.)
    Antique Jewellery
    Vintage Jewellery
    You may also choose to collect jewellery made with one type of gem or a type specific type of jewellery, such as amber, lapis, or pearls.
  • Gold Coins
    This is another collection that can take a large investment. However, if you do not have the funds for such a collection, consider collecting non-gold specific coins, such as from a particular country or time period. Old bills can also be collected. Look for vintage and antique mechanical and piggy banks with old coins in them.
  • Paintings
    Paintings by famous artists such as Dali, Rockwell, and Picasso can cost a pretty penny. If you love art, but don’t have the funds, consider collecting music concert posters, advertising posters, movie posters, original comic book art, or tin, neon, or porcelain signs.
  • Silver
    The most popular silver collection is of silver coins. However, there are also collections of antique and vintage silver items such as tea sets and flatware. Silver jewellery also draws interest.
  • Antiques
    An antique is anything 100 years old or older. Anything old, but not that old, is referred to as vintage. Almost any item can be an antique if it falls into the 100+ year rule. You should do some research on whatever antique item you choose to collect so that you can get authentic items. Checking estate sales and auctions is a good place to start to add to your collection. Also, see if there are family pieces you can obtain.
  • Asian Art
    Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and Buddhist art and antiques from all regions, periods, and cultures can be found. Choose from paintings, statues, textiles, decorative items, porcelain, furniture, prints, archaeological finds, and collectables. This is a collection category that can be as a broad or narrow as you wish, plus expenses vary.
  • Sports Memorabilia
    This is another collectible that allows for a great deal of variety in content and investment. Some collectors look for signed trading cards, others for game-worn helmets, and tickets from famous stadium games. Bowling pins and balls, golf balls, boxing gloves, and wrestling memorabilia are some other collectibles sought by fans. Choose something related to your favourite sport, maybe arrows if you are in to archery.
  • Mid-Century Design
    Vintage mid-century modern (from 1949 to the early 1970s) furniture, ceramics, housewares, art and other collectibles remains a popular collecting category. Collectors look for toys and dolls, furniture, clothing and accessories (purses, hats, and scarves), and other items.
  • Rare Books
    You can buy rare books from a dealer or have the fun of searching library book sales, garage and estate sales, rare book fairs, auctions, and antiquarian book stores. Take the time to learn the terms book collectors use so you know what you are getting. For instance, a signed copy is autographed by the author and a limited edition is printed in limited quantities.

The motivations to collect are as varied as the collection contents. Some people collect to preserve the past. Others collect for investment. Still others find companionship with fellow collectors and create their social environment from on-line collecting and looking for new items to add to their collections at yard sales, thrift stores, and other venues. Many people collect for the pure joy of having things they love surrounding them daily. Whatever your reason for collecting, we hope this article has helped you and increased your enthusiasm for beginning a collection or adding to an existing one. Have fun hunting for the perfect addition to your collection!