Confessions of a Collectaholic
By Karen Johnson, from Out of the Kaje #2 (October 1988)

I am a collectaholic. It all started when I was very young, and I saw my fatherís stamp collection. I wanted one of my own, so he gave me a small album and some common Australian stamps to put into it. For a few months my brother and I spent our pocket money on Mission Assortments, carefully soaking the stamps off their paper, drying them out on sheets of blotting paper (Mum groaned whenever we brought a new bag home because she knew that she wouldnít be able to call the kitchen table her own for the next week) and sorting them into countries. Each bag took me on a tour of far-off places, where the currency was measured in Kroner, Roubles or Deustchmarks. I didnít have a clue where Magyar Posta or Posta Romana were, but I was sure that if I looked carefully enough on a world map Iíd find them.

Eventually, Greg tired of the game, so I put the stamp albums away (it took both of our allowances to buy stamps) and forgot about them. I had other collections to play with, the main one being the collector cards which everyone else in the school was mad about. You may remember them - they were the size of playing cards (some of them actually were intended for that purpose) and they had cutesy little girl-attracting illustrations on them - horses, puppies, babies, bridal couples etc. We spent all our spare pocket money on them, arranged them in albums, and spent our playtimes gloating over our collections and swapping cards that we didnít particularly like for other peopleís rejects. Iíve still got my album somewhere, but I havenít looked at it in a v-e-r-y long time. After the trading card boom I went to High School, and my next collection was postcards. It started when we took a holiday (a fairly rare occurence). I was buying postcards to send back to relatives, and I bought a few more than I needed. What could I do with the left overs? Why not stick them in an album. With that simple action I was hooked again, so much so that when I went to Queensland on my High School Tour (2 teachers, 45 year 10 students, 20 tents, and 1 cook, packed onto a bus for 10 days in 30°C+ heat) I bought close to 100 different cards. Iím still collecting postcards - theyíre a very cheap, compact souvenir, and some of them are very beautiful. I have at least 500 in my collection, and Iíd like to have more from other parts of the world.

My stamp collection has been resurrected in the last few years, and it now takes up 12 albums, my favourite of which is my Cat Stamp collection (approx 500 stamps depicting cats big or small). I also collect miniature bears (I have 70, almost all under about 2 inches tall) and Yowies (52 and counting.) Yowies, in case you havenít heard of them, are an Australian attempt to take on the Kinder Surprise market. Each chocolate Yowie (nice chocolate, supposedly shaped like a bunyip) contains a little plastic capsule with a dismembered (Iím not sure how else to describe it) Australian/New Zealand animal in it. Once you have prised the capsule open, attempted to decipher the cryptic assembly instructions, tried three times to assemble the creature, and given it to your nearest 5 year-old to put together properly, then you can have a good laugh at the peculiar creature inside. Although the chocolate is Australian, the animals inside were designed and moulded in China, apparently by people who didnít even have a photo to work from. Most of them are cute, but any resemblance to the actual living organism is purely accidental. Why do I still buy them in the face of all these difficulties? - I told you, Iím a collectaholic, and theyíre cute.


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Want to contact me? E-mail karenji@labyrinth.net.au