RETRO: Challenge of collecting

The Collectors - Mavis Oldfield with her elephants'13th March 1985
The Collectors - Mavis Oldfield with her elephants'13th March 1985
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They say that if something exists, somebody somewhere probably collects it.

Over the years The Star has certainly collected lots of stories about collectors.

The Collectors - Paul Welshaw collects beer towels'23 March 1985

The Collectors - Paul Welshaw collects beer towels'23 March 1985

Sheffielders, it seems, have always loved to share what they are gathering, acquiring, organising, cataloguing, displaying, storing, and maintaining.

Now, as part of Tuesday Retro’s A-Z series of hobbies enjoyed in our region, we bring you C is for collecting.

And it’s not just the traditional stamps, minerals and pin badge enthusiasts who have appeared in our pages down the years. From a woman who had hundreds of model elephants and another who kept ornamental hippos to the lad who had dozens of beer towels and the Burncross chap who decorated his front room with, um, bombs, we’ve featured them all.

There was one Brinsworth bloke who had more than 600 cameras, while a Stocksbride man spent £50,000 acquiring tropical fish.

The Collectors'Katherine Marshall and hippos'23 March 1985

The Collectors'Katherine Marshall and hippos'23 March 1985

Another, from Chapeltown, had been arrested hunting for 19th century glass bottles. And that’s without mentioning the pre-teen whose memorabilia of choice was Nazi flags, Hitler posters and other Third Reich items. Different, to say the least.

“Collecting is just an enjoyable thing to do,” says Maria de Souza, arts officer with Sheffield City Council and one-time collector of cruet sets. “I started my collection when I was a student at a jumble sale one day. I saw a cruet set I liked and decided to buy it, then I kept buying them after that. I thought they were lovely to look at.”

She ended up with about 150 which are now in storage.

“I suppose it’s quite a simple but challenging hobby,” says Maria of Hunter’s Bar. “But I never thought about why I did it too deeply.”