coin collection

Popular collectibles and why people collect things

Collectibles are a hobby that most people could claim to have taken part in at some point in their lives. About a third of people in the UK collect things.

I think collectibles make our addictive personalities come out, and provide satisfaction in completing a collection. Hoarders take collections to the extreme, but for most people it’s a pleasurable hobby, with some continuing their collections from childhood into adulthood. While others phase them out after they get bored or run out of space, time or money.

Over my childhood I collected rubbers/erasers, badges, key rings, paper napkins although they didn’t last past my teenage years. As an adult I went through a phase of collecting powder compacts (ebay, I blame you!) and my dance shoe collection did get a bit out of hand. Apart from books which is an accidental collection, I’m out of the habit now. But it always interests me what people collect.

collectables and why people collect.

Why do people collect things

The psychology of collecting suggests there are lots of different reasons for people who collect things:

Psychoanalytical reasons suggest:

  • Unloved children seek comfort in accumulating items they can own;
  • Existential reasons – that our collections may live on longer than we do;
  • The endowment effect – we value items more once we own them;
  • Contagion – owning something that belonged to a celebrity or historical figure makes us feel closer to them (creepy!)

Other reasons why people collect

  • Loyalty – for those who collect band or sports memorabilia of their favourite team or band
  • Obsession and competitiveness – searching and finding elusive items (sometimes ahead of others)
  • Pleasure
  • Education
  • Forming a habit
  • Connection with others who collect and love the same items
  • Monetary value and investment (these collections may end up being donated to museums in future)
  • Nostalgia

What are the most collected items?


Antique furniture
China figurines
Christmas baubles or decorations
Fridge Magnets

Perfume bottles
Tea pots
Tea towels

Food and drink

Beer mats/coasters
Chocolate or candy wrappers

Pez dispensers
Salt and pepper shakers

Toys and games

Action Figures
Barbie, Sindy, Action Man
Beanie babies
Dolls and toys
Farm toys – Britains
Football stickers
Funko Pops
Happy Meal toys

Model railway – Hornby
Teddy Bears
Toy cars – Dinky, Matchbox
Trading cards
Video Games

polly pocket collection

Clothes and accessories

Cigarette cases
Key rings

Powder compacts
Vintage clothes
Vintage luggage
Walking sticks

Other collectibles

Comic books
Coins and currency
Classic Cars
Event tickets
Garden gnomes
Internet domains
Licence plates

Musical instruments
Theatre programmes or tickets
Vintage movie posters
Vinyl records

Where to start with collecting

If you’re a collector or looking to start collecting, where do you even start? With so many people now searching for that special find thanks to all the antiques and collectables tv shows, and the options for selling second hand items online and in person nowadays, there’s a lot more competition for pieces. I used to collect vintage powder compacts, and it did get ridiculously hard to find pieces where you didn’t have to bid ridiculous prices on auction sites. In the end, I ended up just keeping 2 of my favourites and selling the rest on.

Great places to start buying for your collection

1. Research items first online and in books so you know what you’re looking for in quality and opportunity, as well as prices.

2. Try preloved and second hand sales and websites. Flea markets, car boot sales (get there early) and online place like Ebay, Preloved, Vinted, even Amazon marketplace. Also try Freecycle or Facebook marketplace.

3. If charity shops are potential places to buy, go in regularly, and make friends with the staff members who may let you know when items you like are in.

4. Join forums and community websites where you can talk to others who collect similar items.

coin collection

Tips to keep collecting a fun pastime

1. While collecting can be an enjoyable pastime, there are things to bear in mind with collecting.

2. It can become an obsession – you don’t want to become a hoarder with your collection taking over what space you have. There’s also the money aspect. Yes, some items you can collect for free, but others (especially popular high demand items), the costs can mount up.

3. You can’t assume your collection will be valuable in years to come.

The market fluctuates depending on demand and trends. We’ve all watched Antiques Roadshow, Bargain Hunt and all the other antiques type of programmes, and seen people find amazing treasures at car boot sales, while others have expensive items that are now worth very little.

4. Choose a theme that you love and are passionate about. You don’t want collecting to become a chore

5. Think about how or where you’ll store your collection. Will it be on show or stored away.

6. Think about what you want to happen to your collection in years to come once you’re gone. Don’t assume your family will want to keep your collection, and also don’t assume it’ll be a great inheritance for them.

I remember us struggling to offload my dad’s stamp collection that he’d had since he was a boy. It probably cost more in petrol lugging boxloads of stamp albums and boxes over to get them valued and sold, than it got us back afterwards.

Which celebrities are collectors?

It’s not just mere mortals who collect things.

  • Ben Stiller – Star Trek props
  • Brad Pitt – metal art
  • Claudia Schiffer – insect inspired art
  • Demi Moore – porcelain dolls
  • Janet Jackson – pig figurines
  • Jay Z – watches
  • Jay Leno – cars
  • Jerry Seinfeld – Superman memorabilia
  • Johnny Depp = Barbie dolls
  • Kiefer Sutherland – Gibson guitars
  • Kelsey Grammar – first edition books
  • Leonardo Dicaprio – action figures
  • Neil Young – model trains
  • Nicholas Cage – comic books
  • Nicole Kidman – coins
  • Martin Scorsese – vintage movie posters
  • Penelope Cruz – coat hangers
  • Reese Witherspoon – antique linen
  • Rod Stewart – model trains
  • Rosie O’Donnell – toys, including Happy Meal toys
  • Quentin Tarantino – pop culture board games
  • Scott Hamilton – pinball machines
  • Tom Hanks – typewriters
  • Whoopi Goldberg – footwear

What do you collect?

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  1. Great post! I used to collect quite a lot of stuff when I was younger. I had a TON of barbies but never thought I was “collecting” them at that age. But other things I collected like mad! I don’t collect anything now – I don’t like clutter, so collecting things would drive me mad. I loved reading these reasons why people might collect stuff; it’s always interesting to see what people collect.

    1. I had a few Barbies too, although My Little Ponies were more of my ‘collection’. Or books, just tonnes of books. I got rid of 11 bagfuls when I decluttered by bookcase

  2. This is a huge list of things that you can collect. I don’t really collect anything right now. But my mum collects special coins. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl

    1. I find it so interesting what other people collect. My son seems to be amassing a few coins too – but they’re metal detecting finds that my brother finds but doesn’t want. Or golf balls which my brother also gives him.

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