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Collections: Are they treasures or trash?

G.M. 'Casey' Cameron
Hemet, Calif.
One of the author's most avid collections was an accumulation of juvenile aviation books.

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It is often said that what is one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. At least that is what we hope for when we offer our items up for garage sales or swap meets. In my case, it is just the opposite – what I consider to be treasures others consider to be junk! So, as a result, I end up with numerous collections – treasures only to myself.

Now, having a collection is not all that bad. It can be a rewarding experience, possibly even educational, and may even be financially rewarding if we are lucky. One must select the ‘right’ thing to collect and then be willing to devote time, effort and money to make it a success. Art collectors who diligently pursue their collecting of fine art generally achieve great satisfaction and pleasure from their efforts and may even be quite adequately rewarded financially from their collection. I am afraid that my collections have not met these high standards – certainly not financially at least.

At the beginning of each of my collecting endeavors, I had high hopes of accumulating a worthy and valuable collection. However, what has happened is not what I had first planned. I did enjoy my collections for a while but they never seemed to mature to the level that I had hoped for. It is apparent that I should have been more diligent in selecting the items and then be willing also to devote more time, study and yes, money to the collection. When I reached that point, I generally lost interest.

Maybe I can blame my urge to collect on the fact that I was raised during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Possession of other than necessities was a rare luxury that just didn’t exist. Needless to say, not many collections were started or maintained during this period of time. Or maybe collecting is in my genes. My grandfather collected anything and everything (mostly pure junk) and had no urge to dispose of any of it. “Might come in handy sometime” was generally the excuse for not getting rid of items. I had an aunt who was also a collector of mostly non-valuable items. And then there was my bachelor brother who had no one to pressure him into disposing of his ‘valuable’ collections. To settle his estate we had to sell 10 trailers of various sizes, five tractors and three pickups along with a vast collection of hammers and sets of tools that had never been removed from the original cartons. Plus he was renting out his property at the time to a full-time operator, so had no real need for those collections.

Mostly, the problem with my collections has been that after a period of time I lost interest in adding to and improving the collections. But at the point, rather than disposing of the collection, I just let them stagnate and went on to something else.

One of my most avid collections was an accumulation of juvenile aviation books. As a young boy, I was greatly enamored by anything relating to aviation. However, due to our remote location in the Sandhills of Nebraska, we did not have access to any of the juvenile books that were being written at the time. And our economic condition did not permit purchase of them either. So, in later years I started to collect this type of books. My collection eventually reached about 400 unduplicated titles, one of the largest in the country. I used the excuse for collecting them that they were printed on poor quality paper that was heavily acidic and deteriorated rapidly. If I didn’t collect and preserve them they would be lost forever. Also, when children left home, these books were often disposed of so some of them were getting rather scarce.

I often had layovers in distant towns with my work as an airline pilot, so I used this spare time to haunt the used book stores, the thrift shops and even second-hand furniture stores for these items. I didn’t always read them, but tried to care for them for the future. Eventually, my search came to almost a dead end as all that I was able to find were duplicates of ones that I already had. At this point, I began to loose interest and only rarely did I add to the collection. Then we moved from a five-bedroom house (one was used as my library) to a two-bedroom house limiting the space that was available for my collection. I found a home for the collection and instead of trying to sell it, I donated it to the San Diego Aerospace Museum Library. They in turn, traded the entire collection to an Eastern College Library that specialized in juvenile books.

Stamps can make an interesting collection and I delved in that for a while, collecting any stamps relating to aviation and especially airplanes. Stamps have a historical connection as well as providing an education in geography. My collection included most of the common aviation and airmail stamps, but when I wanted to go beyond this level, more effort and money was going to be needed to continue. I still have this collection, but have not done any more toward mounting and displaying what I already have. I suppose that I could sell the collection, but it seems like it would be too much trouble. I have tried to give it away to my children, but so far no ‘takers.’ So, keeping up the family tradition, I still have this collection boxed away.

Next, I started collecting aviation postcards, again with emphasis on airplane both old and new, military and civilian, private and commercial. This had evolved into a collection of approximately 300 cards. They take up a lot of space to display, so very little use is made of them and as with the other collections, more time, effort and money are needed to make it a worthy collection. They languish in boxes on a shelf in the garage.

Coins, yes, doesn’t everyone collect coins to some extent? I have collected coins from our foreign travels, mostly small denominations that could not be exchanged back to U.S. money. Various U.S. coins have been added to the small collection over the years. My son collected silver quarters and had a nice collection, but when he needed expenses for college, I bought them from him and still have them. I do not think any of them are rare, but all are worth more than face value if I want to take the effort to trade them. I’m saving them for a ‘rainy day.’ I even started filling a penny booklet, but never finished it. My wife has several gold coins mounted in jewelry, but of course they are ‘off limits’ for my collection.

I also collect paint – part cans of various colors that I ‘might’ use one day. And besides, it is really hard to get rid of paint these days! Also boxes of spare nuts, bolts, screws and nails adorn my garage, but I can never find the right one when I need it.

Collecting can be an interesting hobby and may be financially rewarding if properly directed. Otherwise, it may become only an idle pastime that takes up time and space. Some people are more successful than others in collecting. My collections have yet to become treasures!

It is often said that what is one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. At least that is what we hope for when we offer our items up for garage sales or swap meets. In my case, it is just the opposite – what I consider to be treasures others consider to be junk! So, as a result, I end up with numerous collections – treasures only to myself.

Now, having a collection is not all that bad. It can be a rewarding experience, possibly even educational, and may even be financially rewarding if we are lucky. One must select the ‘right’ thing to collect and then be willing to devote time, effort and money to make it a success. Art collectors who diligently pursue their collecting of fine art generally achieve great satisfaction and pleasure from their efforts and may even be quite adequately rewarded financially from their collection. I am afraid that my collections have not met these high standards – certainly not financially at least.

At the beginning of each of my collecting endeavors, I had high hopes of accumulating a worthy and valuable collection. However, what has happened is not what I had first planned. I did enjoy my collections for a while but they never seemed to mature to the level that I had hoped for. It is apparent that I should have been more diligent in selecting the items and then be willing also to devote more time, study and yes, money to the collection. When I reached that point, I generally lost interest.

Maybe I can blame my urge to collect on the fact that I was raised during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Possession of other than necessities was a rare luxury that just didn’t exist. Needless to say, not many collections were started or maintained during this period of time. Or maybe collecting is in my genes. My grandfather collected anything and everything (mostly pure junk) and had no urge to dispose of any of it. “Might come in handy sometime” was generally the excuse for not getting rid of items. I had an aunt who was also a collector of mostly non-valuable items. And then there was my bachelor brother who had no one to pressure him into disposing of his ‘valuable’ collections. To settle his estate we had to sell 10 trailers of various sizes, five tractors and three pickups along with a vast collection of hammers and sets of tools that had never been removed from the original cartons. Plus he was renting out his property at the time to a full-time operator, so had no real need for those collections.

Mostly, the problem with my collections has been that after a period of time I lost interest in adding to and improving the collections. But at the point, rather than disposing of the collection, I just let them stagnate and went on to something else.

One of my most avid collections was an accumulation of juvenile aviation books. As a young boy, I was greatly enamored by anything relating to aviation. However, due to our remote location in the Sandhills of Nebraska, we did not have access to any of the juvenile books that were being written at the time. And our economic condition did not permit purchase of them either. So, in later years I started to collect this type of books. My collection eventually reached about 400 unduplicated titles, one of the largest in the country. I used the excuse for collecting them that they were printed on poor quality paper that was heavily acidic and deteriorated rapidly. If I didn’t collect and preserve them they would be lost forever. Also, when children left home, these books were often disposed of so some of them were getting rather scarce.

I often had layovers in distant towns with my work as an airline pilot, so I used this spare time to haunt the used book stores, the thrift shops and even second-hand furniture stores for these items. I didn’t always read them, but tried to care for them for the future. Eventually, my search came to almost a dead end as all that I was able to find were duplicates of ones that I already had. At this point, I began to loose interest and only rarely did I add to the collection. Then we moved from a five-bedroom house (one was used as my library) to a two-bedroom house limiting the space that was available for my collection. I found a home for the collection and instead of trying to sell it, I donated it to the San Diego Aerospace Museum Library. They in turn, traded the entire collection to an Eastern College Library that specialized in juvenile books.

Stamps can make an interesting collection and I delved in that for a while, collecting any stamps relating to aviation and especially airplanes. Stamps have a historical connection as well as providing an education in geography. My collection included most of the common aviation and airmail stamps, but when I wanted to go beyond this level, more effort and money was going to be needed to continue. I still have this collection, but have not done any more toward mounting and displaying what I already have. I suppose that I could sell the collection, but it seems like it would be too much trouble. I have tried to give it away to my children, but so far no ‘takers.’ So, keeping up the family tradition, I still have this collection boxed away.

Next, I started collecting aviation postcards, again with emphasis on airplane both old and new, military and civilian, private and commercial. This had evolved into a collection of approximately 300 cards. They take up a lot of space to display, so very little use is made of them and as with the other collections, more time, effort and money are needed to make it a worthy collection. They languish in boxes on a shelf in the garage.

Coins, yes, doesn’t everyone collect coins to some extent? I have collected coins from our foreign travels, mostly small denominations that could not be exchanged back to U.S. money. Various U.S. coins have been added to the small collection over the years. My son collected silver quarters and had a nice collection, but when he needed expenses for college, I bought them from him and still have them. I do not think any of them are rare, but all are worth more than face value if I want to take the effort to trade them. I’m saving them for a ‘rainy day.’ I even started filling a penny booklet, but never finished it. My wife has several gold coins mounted in jewelry, but of course they are ‘off limits’ for my collection.

I also collect paint – part cans of various colors that I ‘might’ use one day. And besides, it is really hard to get rid of paint these days! Also boxes of spare nuts, bolts, screws and nails adorn my garage, but I can never find the right one when I need it.

Collecting can be an interesting hobby and may be financially rewarding if properly directed. Otherwise, it may become only an idle pastime that takes up time and space. Some people are more successful than others in collecting. My collections have yet to become treasures!

It is often said that what is one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. At least that is what we hope for when we offer our items up for garage sales or swap meets. In my case, it is just the opposite – what I consider to be treasures others consider to be junk! So, as a result, I end up with numerous collections – treasures only to myself.

Now, having a collection is not all that bad. It can be a rewarding experience, possibly even educational, and may even be financially rewarding if we are lucky. One must select the ‘right’ thing to collect and then be willing to devote time, effort and money to make it a success. Art collectors who diligently pursue their collecting of fine art generally achieve great satisfaction and pleasure from their efforts and may even be quite adequately rewarded financially from their collection. I am afraid that my collections have not met these high standards – certainly not financially at least.

At the beginning of each of my collecting endeavors, I had high hopes of accumulating a worthy and valuable collection. However, what has happened is not what I had first planned. I did enjoy my collections for a while but they never seemed to mature to the level that I had hoped for. It is apparent that I should have been more diligent in selecting the items and then be willing also to devote more time, study and yes, money to the collection. When I reached that point, I generally lost interest.

Maybe I can blame my urge to collect on the fact that I was raised during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Possession of other than necessities was a rare luxury that just didn’t exist. Needless to say, not many collections were started or maintained during this period of time. Or maybe collecting is in my genes. My grandfather collected anything and everything (mostly pure junk) and had no urge to dispose of any of it. “Might come in handy sometime” was generally the excuse for not getting rid of items. I had an aunt who was also a collector of mostly non-valuable items. And then there was my bachelor brother who had no one to pressure him into disposing of his ‘valuable’ collections. To settle his estate we had to sell 10 trailers of various sizes, five tractors and three pickups along with a vast collection of hammers and sets of tools that had never been removed from the original cartons. Plus he was renting out his property at the time to a full-time operator, so had no real need for those collections.

Mostly, the problem with my collections has been that after a period of time I lost interest in adding to and improving the collections. But at the point, rather than disposing of the collection, I just let them stagnate and went on to something else.

One of my most avid collections was an accumulation of juvenile aviation books. As a young boy, I was greatly enamored by anything relating to aviation. However, due to our remote location in the Sandhills of Nebraska, we did not have access to any of the juvenile books that were being written at the time. And our economic condition did not permit purchase of them either. So, in later years I started to collect this type of books. My collection eventually reached about 400 unduplicated titles, one of the largest in the country. I used the excuse for collecting them that they were printed on poor quality paper that was heavily acidic and deteriorated rapidly. If I didn’t collect and preserve them they would be lost forever. Also, when children left home, these books were often disposed of so some of them were getting rather scarce.

I often had layovers in distant towns with my work as an airline pilot, so I used this spare time to haunt the used book stores, the thrift shops and even second-hand furniture stores for these items. I didn’t always read them, but tried to care for them for the future. Eventually, my search came to almost a dead end as all that I was able to find were duplicates of ones that I already had. At this point, I began to loose interest and only rarely did I add to the collection. Then we moved from a five-bedroom house (one was used as my library) to a two-bedroom house limiting the space that was available for my collection. I found a home for the collection and instead of trying to sell it, I donated it to the San Diego Aerospace Museum Library. They in turn, traded the entire collection to an Eastern College Library that specialized in juvenile books.

Stamps can make an interesting collection and I delved in that for a while, collecting any stamps relating to aviation and especially airplanes. Stamps have a historical connection as well as providing an education in geography. My collection included most of the common aviation and airmail stamps, but when I wanted to go beyond this level, more effort and money was going to be needed to continue. I still have this collection, but have not done any more toward mounting and displaying what I already have. I suppose that I could sell the collection, but it seems like it would be too much trouble. I have tried to give it away to my children, but so far no ‘takers.’ So, keeping up the family tradition, I still have this collection boxed away.

Next, I started collecting aviation postcards, again with emphasis on airplane both old and new, military and civilian, private and commercial. This had evolved into a collection of approximately 300 cards. They take up a lot of space to display, so very little use is made of them and as with the other collections, more time, effort and money are needed to make it a worthy collection. They languish in boxes on a shelf in the garage.

Coins, yes, doesn’t everyone collect coins to some extent? I have collected coins from our foreign travels, mostly small denominations that could not be exchanged back to U.S. money. Various U.S. coins have been added to the small collection over the years. My son collected silver quarters and had a nice collection, but when he needed expenses for college, I bought them from him and still have them. I do not think any of them are rare, but all are worth more than face value if I want to take the effort to trade them. I’m saving them for a ‘rainy day.’ I even started filling a penny booklet, but never finished it. My wife has several gold coins mounted in jewelry, but of course they are ‘off limits’ for my collection.

I also collect paint – part cans of various colors that I ‘might’ use one day. And besides, it is really hard to get rid of paint these days! Also boxes of spare nuts, bolts, screws and nails adorn my garage, but I can never find the right one when I need it.

Collecting can be an interesting hobby and may be financially rewarding if properly directed. Otherwise, it may become only an idle pastime that takes up time and space. Some people are more successful than others in collecting. My collections have yet to become treasures!


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I have been rather preoccupied lately and haven’t been writing my editor’s note. So, for those who have called and emailed to make sure I’m still on this Earth, I’m still here.



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