32 Collectors Share Their Favorite Carefully Curated Finds

These die-hard collectors show us their carefully curated finds.

best things to collect - things people collect

No dusty stamp collections here! Ikaroo readers—including a dozen- Instagram followers—share their carefully curated finds and what inspires them to keep on digging. (Share your stash with us by tagging it #CLCollections.)

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things people collect - cutting board collection
Kayla Snell
Claire Brody | Austin, TX

COLLECTOR OF: Cutting boards

WHY CUTTING BOARDS: I like the idea of collecting things that are kind of unique—they aren’t something most people collect.

THE ONE THAT ALMOST GOT AWAY: I initially walked away from the pig, but then I realized I couldn’t not buy a pig cutting board.

HOW I GOT IN THE GAME: I have a real love for vintage shopping, and over time the collections start forming on their own.

KEEPING A COOL HEAD: The only way I really become emotionally attached to something is when it’s been passed down by my family. Most of my cutting boards have been picked up while shopping around town—which is fun, but not all that sentimental.

WHEN SHE’S NOT ANTIQUING: I’m an interior designer who has made it my mission to explain the value of vintage-over-new pieces to my clients.

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things people collect - oil portrait collection
Clay Austin
Gray Benko | Charleston, SC

COLLECTOR OF: Vintage oil portraits

WHY PORTRAITS: It always makes me a little sad to see them for sale without any sort of story attached, so I’m more than happy to give them a home.

GO-TO SOURCES: I found my first portrait in a little shop in Walterboro, South Carolina, about three years ago and became obsessed. Once you’re looking for them, they find you. Etsy has some great shops devoted to vintage portraiture, so, clearly, a lot of people share my obsession.

REGRETS, SHE HAS A FEW: When I think about the ones that got away, there are more than I can count.

EARLY ADOPTER: I guess I’ve always been a collector. As a child, I collected anything I could get my hands on: rocks, coins, water balloons, you name it.

WHEN SHE’S NOT ANTIQUING: I’m a professional photographer and full-time mom to two small kids.

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things people collect - hand colored engravings collection
Missy Struif
Erica Swagler | Alton, IL

COLLECTOR OF: Hand-colored engravings

OH, AND ALSO: Black-and-white silhouettes, china plates

WHY ENGRAVINGS: I’m drawn to these ladies wearing early-19th-century fashions.

BANG FOR THE BUCK: I bought my first pair for $20. I won’t spend more than $15 for a plate.

WHEN SHE’S NOT ANTIQUING: I’m a mom and a homemaker, and I love decorating my house.

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things people collect - mccoy collection
Courtesy of Jesse Lauzon
Jesse Lauzon | Toronto, Canada

COLLECTOR OF: Everything! McCoy, ironstone, Cornishware, breadboards, juice glasses, yellowware, transferware, cookbooks...

ALL IN THE FAMILY: The Cornishware milk measure was a gift from my mom, so of course it’s a favorite.

RULES OF ATTRACTION: I’m drawn to both form and function—I’m not very good at passing up something old and great looking. I also like that there are amazing finds for good prices.

WHEN HE’S NOT ANTIQUING: My first love is food—I’m lucky I get to work with amazing food at a retail farm destination.

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things people collect - license plates collection
Eli Warren
Rachel and Joseph Bradley | Greenville, SC

THE COLLECTION: Joseph’s license plates

WHY LICENSE PLATES: My dad was a bit of a hoarder, and I got a few from him. I began adding, and then—over the years—people started giving them to me. We probably have around 70 now.

SENTIMENTAL FAVORITE: A plate that commemorates the 1949 World’s Fair

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: South Carolina had a really beautiful plate with the state bird and flower. I’m still on the hunt for that one.

THE COUPLE THAT COLLECTS TOGETHER... I’ve always had a deep connection to objects, and my wife is the same way. That can be a problem, so we’ve both had to edit our collections.

WHEN THEY’RE NOT ANTIQUING: I’m a painter and my wife, Rachel, is a pastry chef. We also stay pretty busy with our three sons.

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things people collect - crewelwork collection
Slavka Photography
Steph Harkins | Skippack, PA

COLLECTOR OF: Crewelwork

WHY CREWELWORK: A lot of the pieces are from the 1970s—the era in which I was born. I’m drawn to the colors, and I love that it’s a craft that I have no idea how to do. I have 30 now.

SENTIMENTAL FAVORITE: They’re often signed on the back. My favorite has a note that says, “Sue Ellen, my darling, lovable, talented daughter. Love, Dad, February 1967.”

WHEN SHE’S NOT ANTIQUING: I’m hanging with my husband and little girl and working on my small business selling antiques.

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things to collect - usa samples collection
Ikaroo Staff
Christina Gerstner | Lynchburg, VA

OCCUPATION: Owner of the vintage shop

COLLECTION: USA samplers

COLLECTOR'S COUNT: 12

WINNING COMBINATION: "I love them because they embody several of my passions—birds and flowers, maps, anything old. Whenever I can get all the things I love in one place, it makes me happy. Wall space is very precious in my (very collected) home"

NOTICEABLY ABSENT: "Alaska and Hawaii are missing from almost every map in my collection, meaning they were made prior to 1959, when those territories officially acquired statehood."

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Brandy Brown | Seattle, WA

OCCUPATION: Creative director at

COLLECTION: Postage Stamps

COLLECTOR'S COUNT: 200

SEAL OF APPROVAL: "As a graphic designer, I'm drawn to the intricate detailing found on vintage stamps. They're tiny works of art."

PASS IT ON: "I've had many favorites over the years, like the 1969 botanical stamps featuring orchids and magnolias, but postage was created to be used, to connect people. There's no stamp I wouldn't part with for the right occasion, so my collection is always changing."

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David Hillegas | Birmingham, AL

OCCUPATION: Travel and still-life

COLLECTION: Oil cans

COLLECTOR'S COUNT: 40

BLAST FROM THE PAST: "You don't have too many functioning machines in need of a good oiling these days. My collection is a fun reminder of a different time."

THE NAME GAME: "My favorite pieces are the ones with an original label intact. I have a few that say 'Maytag.' I'm assuming they were used by repairmen making house calls back in the day."

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Anna Boyer & Kate Wyman | New Orleans, LA

OCCUPATION: Co-owners of .

COLLECTION: Kitchen tins

COLLECTORS' COUNT: 40

ALL IN THE FAMILY: "When we moved to New Orleans to start our printing company, my mother—Kate's aunt—gifted us with her collection that she started when she lived in the Big Easy. They have been a great inspiration for our designs."

FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE: "The first tin we bought was a red one from McNess," says Anna. "When we got home and opened it up, there was still coconut dessert mix inside!"

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Jenny Keller | Lake Stevens, WA

OCCUPATION: Owner of

COLLECTION: Cake plates

COLLECTOR'S COUNT: 510

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: "My collection is 10 years in the making. It takes time to find these plates, but I love scouring flea markets, antiques stores, and estate sales almost as much as I enjoy using my pieces."

ICING ON THE CAKE: "The jadeites are my absolute favorite. My eyes are forever peeled for a jadeite hobnail one. Those are very, very hard to come by.

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Sharon Phantha | Sacramento, CA

OCCUPATION: Owner, vintage curator at

COLLECTION: Primitive baskets

COLLECTOR'S COUNT: 120

WORLDLY WARES: "My baskets are from every corner of the globe—the U.S., Laos, Japan, Brazil, Rwanda, Madagascar, to name a few. Each region has a distinct style, but you'll also find many similarities. They were made using a skill found in almost every culture."

PRETTY & PRACTICAL: "I'm drawn to the versatility and functionality of baskets. They can look beautiful on the wall, but in an instant, they can become a fruit bowl, serving platter, or a vessel for cleaning rice."

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Alyssa Rosenheck
Elsie Larson | Nashville, TN

COLLECTION: Depression Glass

OCCUPATION: Founder and creative director of the lifestyle blog

COLLECTOR'S COUNT: 100

RAINBOW CONNECTION: "I was inspired by my travels to Palm Springs and specifically stays at the very colorful Parker Hotel, which was designed by one of my heroes, Jonathan Adler. The rainbow effect of their colored glass collection made me smile every morning."

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Courtesy of Janine Vangool
Janine Vangool | Calgary, Alberta, Canada

COLLECTION: Typewriters

OCCUPATION: Publisher, editor, and designer, UPPERCASE publishing. Check out her book, The Typewriter: A Graphic History of the Beloved Machine, at .

COLLECTOR'S COUNT: 12 machines and dozens of ribbon tins (shown at left)

KEYED IN: "I purchased my first typewriter 10 years ago. It was a beautiful turquoise Royal Quiet Deluxe, circa 1956. When I discovered this model had also been made in red, pink, teal, grey, and yellow, it sent me on a collecting course!"

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Courtesy of Sarah Vickers and Kiel James Patrick
Sarah Vickers | Pawtucket, RI

COLLECTION: Preppy Sweaters

OCCUPATION: Blogger, ; co-owner of fashion accessories company KJP,

COLLECTOR'S COUNT: 200

CLOSE-KNIT APPEAL: "Many of these sweaters were made in America, and you can really see the craftsmanship that went into them. The designs, both quirky and classic, inspire some patterns and colors that my husband, Kiel, and I incorporate into our line."

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Lucy Cuneo
Calder Clark | Charleston, SC

COLLECTION: Silhouettes

OCCUPATION: Wedding designer,

COLLECTOR'S COUNT: 115

FAMILY TRADITION: "Growing up, my mother had our childhood silhouettes hanging in a beautiful little corner of the living room. Their simplicity always intrigued me."

A CUT ABOVE: "I love all my silhouettes, but my favorite is one of my late father, which includes his first attempt at writing his own name."

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Katie Roemer
Bene Raia | Sherborn, MA

COLLECTION: Equestrian Ribbons

OCCUPATION: Auctioneer,

COLLECTOR'S COUNT: 500

WHY SHE LOVES THEM: "I know what it takes to earn one. I used to compete, and the highest I earned was a second-place red ribbon. I feel that I'm paying tribute to the effort that went into winning these prizes."

NICE FORM: "I mounted a wire fence to one wall of my studio and hang the ribbons there so I can enjoy them every day."

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@Eclectic_Junketeer | Tampa, FL

"I bought my first piece of jadeite on eBay. I loved the look, color, and history of it. I now have 300 pieces!"

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@PaintedPlanks | Meridian, ID

"Looking at these landscapes, I can almost smell the fresh pine and hear the chickadees chirping."

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@BellJarVintage | St. Charles, IL

"I was a tomboy as a child, but I appreciated the beauty of my grandmother's hand mirrors even then."

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@FourCornersDesign | Everett, WA

"I like to imagine stories behind old photos. I have about 100 and use them in my artwork."


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@Owens_Co | Coombs, British Columbia, Canada

"I love the unique stamps, labels, and shapes among the different spool companies, varieties, and eras."

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@LisaCongdon | Portland, OR

"I love the colors and typography and that these kinds of travel tags are mostly obsolete now."

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@TheModernJune | Richmond, VA

"I was a CL Fair vendor for years, and I found many of my 40- trays there."

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@KellyGrandinetti | Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, CA

"I like to find my ceramic bluebirds myself rather than buy them online."

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@Lochintzweluv | Tracy, CA

"I love how small butter pat plates are because I can always find room for more!"

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@CPGoodrich | Lexington, MA

"I'm drawn to dollhouse chairs from the 19th century. They have wonderful charm."

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@HarperandArrowMarketplace | Coopersburg, PA

"Enamelware reminds me of a bygone era, when life was simpler and slower paced."

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@The_Rusty_Typewriter | Pikesville, MD

"I got my first and favorite floral frog from my mother, who was a floral designer."

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@LaLuneDesigns | Columbus, OH

"I was always charmed by the glass knob on the cellar door at my grandmother's Cape Cod home."

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