Collectors Day held at Fla. Museum

Collector Darrell Gaughf shows an example of one of his railroad lanterns to Barney Gardiner during the 31st Annual Collectors Day at the Florida Museum of Natural History Saturday afternoon.

Brad McClenny / Special to The Sun
Published: Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 11:42 p.m.

Christian Wayne, 14, stood at a table with autographed baseballs, a Gator basketball signed by the 2006 team and Billy Donovan, and a binder full of sports cards.

He was one of the youngest collectors at the 31st annual Collectors Day on Saturday at the Florida Museum of Natural History, and he joined about 100 others with a keen interest in collecting everything from potato mashers and Pez dispensers to Titanic memorabilia and the stickers found on bananas.

In what has become a winter tradition in Gainesville, people from this and surrounding areas were invited to share their collections, whether they be valuable monetarily or simply valuable to that one collector, said Kelly Donovan, communications specialist for the museum.

"You can collect anything," she said. "It's OK to like weird things."

Visitors were greeted by 33 antique cars that were set up by the front entrance of the museum.

Inside, several rooms were filled with collections. There were tables with fishing hooks, stress balls and Pez dispensers.

Kathleen Hecht's table was filled with perfume bottles. Some were old, some were figurines, and some hid the perfume bottle in elaborate ways.

Next to her table was Peggy Schneider with her alligator collection.

A University of Florida graduate who lives in Georgia, Schneider said she has been collecting since 1968, when she started working at a high school where the mascot was a gator, she said.

Schneider has about 800 pieces in her collection, but she wears her favorite piece: a solid gold alligator necklace.

She brought nine cases but only showcased six, she said.

Among the items were an alligator that teaches children how to brush their teeth, a Gator golf game and Gator pasta.

Her collection is stored in bins in her basement at home, she said.

Saturday marked Jeff Tenant's second time at Collectors Day. He brought 23 chess boards. Seven others he left at home.

He has been collecting the boards since 1969, where he got an ivory set of a Chinese court - which happens to be his favorite board.

In 1970, ivory chess boards stopped being made, so he considers himself lucky for having his, he said.

Tenant has boards with pieces of African animals, "Lord of the Rings" characters and the Civil War.

Lois Anne O'Malley attended the event with a friend. She collects stained-glass houses that are kept in a cabinet.

Her favorite collection was the potato mashers that were placed on a table, as well as a wall behind the collector.

Thomas M. Olmsted, a lifelong collector, said he has showcased 13 different collections in the past 29 years at the museum. This year, he brought his collection of left-handed items - which illustrates how difficult the world can be for lefties.

"I believe in collecting things that don't cost me money," he said.

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