The Collectors



That’s it for me; it’s the end of summer and I’m returning to the UK this weekend with two new stand-alone novels and a non-fiction book under my belt. It’s been a great period of intensely hard work. Having finished, I was strolling about yesterday and thinking about the strange habits of collectors when I saw this fair taking place.

Dozens of stands buying and selling for earnest collectors of all ages. In Europe you seem to find an astonishing array of collecting fairs from numismatics to antique automata. I’ve deliberately low-res-ed the shots here; see if you can guess what they’re collecting.


This month sees the biggest paperback collectors’ fair in London taking place, and of course I’ll be there. Prices are rising sharply now (UK mass market editions are finite in supply and therefore getting pricey). I guess just about anything in limited circulation can be collected – last year I attended a typewriter collectors’ fair. Any guesses yet?


Answers below please, along with any news of strange collecting habits!

14 comments on “The Collectors”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    It looks like pin collecting, as in “Vote for Dick Nixon”, “I fainted at Expo 86” (that’s a real one. Princess Diana had a fainting spell when they visited.)
    I have a friend who appears to be collecting cowboy boots, although she’s still at the stage of “I can’t believe I just bought another pair.” We saw a photo of her stairs with a pair of boots on each step and it was a long flight. I know someone who has ended up with an owl collection because she had two figurines and friends thought she was collecting so everyone gives her owls in various forms.

  2. snowy says:

    While I like Helen’s idea, I suspect we are in Plaça Reial and might be looking at coins.

    [Though I’d be quite happy with Runner-Up if I had the correct location.]

  3. Trace Turner says:

    Are they the metal caps from the tops of champagne and sparkling wine corks?

  4. John says:

    It must be postage stamps. I’m basing that on all the bright colors I see in the second photo and the fact that the guy in the purple shirt seems to be checking a printed catalog or reference book. But I was hesitant to type that because I thought that stamp collecting went out with the black and white TV. But I guess anything is possible…especially in Spain.

  5. Vivienne says:

    They are too variously coloured for coins and too shiny and sort of raised for stamps. They definitely look a bit metallic, but I am wondering if they are something really banal that I wouldn’t think anyone would want. But Trace’s idea of bottle tops sounds good, but maybe beer rather than champagne.

  6. snowy says:

    Definitely a “two biscuit” problem.

    Fully sugared up and having done some more research, I think Trace is correct. [And I doff my imaginary hat accordingly.]

    If we are going to be held to naming them precisely: ‘cava bottle plaques’.

    [As to collections; the standard answer is always “spores, molds and fungus”.]

  7. John Howard says:

    I would love them to have been the good old bottle top.. ( Although I do see Trace seems to have the correct answer, according to the world of snowy – never knowingly not knowing ).

  8. snowy says:

    We have to be careful not to neglect the deviousness of our host, It could be something else entirely.

    [Though if he says they are novelty ‘bedroom wear’, serious Old-Fashioned Looks might be exchanged.]

  9. Roger says:

    A psychiatrist was sent a man to examine. He gave all the tests and finally concluded “You seem perfectly all right to me. I can’t see why they’ve sent you to me.”
    “Nor can I, but my family insisted.”
    “Why? is there anything specific they mentioned?”
    “Well, they complained that I like cream buns”
    “Nothing wrong with that. I’m very fond of them myself.”
    “Really! You must come and look at mu collection. I’ve got thousands.”

    The collectors’ psychology.

  10. admin says:

    Ha! Trace Turner was indeed correct – they’re the metal cork tops from cava and champagne bottles. Many have heraldic shields on and were issued in limited cuvees.

  11. Chris Davis says:

    Sad to say I collect those in a small way, myself, although I only keep the tops from Champagne bottles I’ve consumed! My kitchen clock has tops for the hours and in Epernay (Coeur de Champagne) it is easy to find display cabinets for them. There is a (polite) word for collectors but I am pleased to say I have forgotten it!

  12. Steve says:

    I have a complete set of 1960s sexton blake paperbacks. Is that sad/unique* enough?(*delete as appropriate)…
    Oh yes and I do also have complete runs of Eagle and Boys World from 63 on.
    Though all in storage at the moment.
    Perhaps I’ll stop there.
    PS and a complete Bryant and May set including things like Rune etc etc. Maybe that’s more socially acceptable round here 😉
    Hello from Frankfurt.

  13. Trace Turner says:

    Don’t suppose there’s a prize…a bottle of cava seems appropriate, but you might not want to ship it to Florida. I’ll just open one of my own when I get home from work. I too seem to have inadvertently collected a few in various kitchen drawers. Now to confess – I actually saw that market in Barcelona in April.

  14. Jo W says:

    Coming back this weekend,Chris? Wrap up warmly!

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