Collector — or Hoarder?

A few weeks ago my youngest son Blake, who turned 23 on St. Patrick’s Day and whose idea of “taking some time off” before going to medical school was to pick up a master’s degree from Harvard (trust me, those aren’t my genes), came home for a long weekend. As he is always prone to do, he wandered out to my office, which is a second-floor, office-apartment I built atop our two-car garage several years ago.

He returned to the house in time for dinner with an announcement.

“Dad,” he said. “You’re a hoarder.”

I wasn’t quite sure how to react.

I have always been a collector, from the time I was picking out Lincoln pennies, Jefferson nickels, and Franklin half dollars from my paper route money to when I was trading a Hank Aaron baseball card for a Roger Maris or Whitey Ford that hadn’t been clothes-pinned to the rear wheel of a Schwinn bicycle.

I later moved on to Golden Oak pressed back chairs and fancy sideboards before finally settling into Arts and Crafts furniture, metalware, textiles, and art pottery, which have dominated my various homes — and my life — for the past thirty-some years.

Granted, I must confess to at times having to rent a few storage units to hold some of my discoveries as they awaited their turn in either my workshop or my house, but I never considered myself to be a “hoarder.”

In fact, two years I made a resolution: what I could not display, I had to dispose of.

So, much to Blake’s concern, my office now displays much of my Arts and Crafts collection that had previously been in storage tubs.

Unfortunately, I am continuing to add to it.

But this is such an amazing time for collectors. I grew up in an era when to find something you literally had to get in your car, van, or truck and go hunting for it. Now, it’s a whole new world. Last week I received an email alert, letting me know that one of my “key words” was coming up for sale on Saturday — in Pittsburg. Not to worry, on Saturday morning I simply logged in, read the description, viewed the enlarged photographs, and placed my bid — all from my office.

That same day I did go to Brunk’s Auction house here in Asheville, where Andrew and his staff had about a dozen assorted pieces of Arts and Crafts hitting the auction block. I went to their website, reviewed the detailed condition reports, determined what time the pieces I found intriguing would be sold, took Leigh Ann to lunch, then strolled in, took our seats, and joined in the spirited bidding, leaving with the one piece I had hoped to snag.

We arrived home only to discover that our early morning internet bid in Pittsburg had won, but before we could even think about that, I received a text message and two photographs on my phone from our good friend Jim Wilson standing in an antiques mall of yet another piece of Arts and Crafts.

An hour later it was in the back of our car and headed for my office.


“Yes, Blake, your father is a hoarder.”

And loving every minute of it.

Until next Monday,

Trust me — there’s more out there now than ever before!


Top: A stuffed Arts & Crafts bobcat I bought off a stranger’s front porch not long ago, now protecting my office collection. The rocking horse in the background I rode as a child.

Middle: The north end of my office.