On our landing, we have a huge cupboard, which contains many boxes. Most of these boxes have not been opened since we moved nearly 5 years ago. I know a lot of what's in there - mostly collections of toys, curios and pictures, which we just don't have room to display right now.
However, I know I need to go through them and sort out whether I really need to keep it all. So as a start, I opened one smallish box. It really was a treasure trove, as it contained mostly metal things. Firstly, my collection of enamel badges and metal pins. The photo above just shows a selection of my favourites. I'm particularly fond of the Noddy one.
Next, we have more badges, brooches, pendants and charms - some more weird than others.
It got me thinking again about objects and my fascination with them. Jane wrote an excellent blog post recently about an exhibition of amulets and charms at the Wellcome Collection, and shared her own collection of 'amulets'. Whilst I wouldn't call my own objects amulets, I am always drawn to objects that have been given a value beyond their inherent worth. This value might come from memories or superstition, or might be because of what they represent - like a love token or a reminder to stay hopeful.
There is much to be said for William Morris's instruction, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful", but it completely ignores objects with special meaning. It might be the ugliest pot you have ever seen, but if it's your child's first attempt at pottery, you might want to keep it for a while. Old toys no longer fulfill their use as playthings, but if they invoke happy childhood memories, or remind you of a lost parent, then it doesn't matter how deformed and hideous that old stuffed dog is - you should keep it.
Of course collecting other people's old toys, love tokens, or souvenirs is another matter. There's still value attached, but it becomes a strange mixture of vicarious sentiment, collecting greed, nostalgia and aesthetic appreciation (or derision). Of course, some of the stuff I collect has never been considered of value by anybody!
P.S. If you're interested in objects which have superstitious meaning, I can recommend this book, (although it's quite old and appears to be no longer available new)