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In the collector world, nothing is truly “weird”

Deanna Dahslad

“The honest truth is, I don’t find anything to be weird in collecting,” says collector Deanna. Read her wonderful take on the difference between “weird” and “odd.”

This is Part 1 of a two part post. Read Part 2 here.

After all these years in the antiques and collectibles business, I am often asked about the weirdest collectibles or oddest collections. Naturally, I don’t want to offend anyone; but the honest truth is that I don’t find anything to be weird in collecting. And I don’t say that with a jaded sense of “I’ve seen it all” boredom, either. I am continually fascinated by objects, history, collections, and collectors themselves. (Collections are like snowflakes or, more accurately, works of art.) But still, people want to know what is weird or odd.

Weird vs. odd

Collection of animal figurines in polka dot bowties

Some might find Deanna’s collection of animals in red bowties “weird.”

The first thing I’d like to say is that “weird” is a subjective label. “Weird” is based on what seems “not normal” to an individual. A weird collectible or collection is one you personally either wouldn’t want to own or never really thought about. For example, you (along with many who visit my home) may find my collection of vintage figurine animals wearing red bowties with white polka dots to be “weird.”

We’ve all heard the expression “one man’s trash is another’s treasure”, well, one man’s treasure is another man’s weird.

“Odd” collectibles or collections, on the other hand, are not subjective things at all.

Strictly speaking, “odd” is a mathematical definition. Not in the “odd vs. evens” type of math, but in the counting numbers game of math. In order for something to be odd in collecting, it must be uncommon, unusual; it must be a small percentage of the collecting world.

TV collector shows focus on “odd” collectibles

Vintage bottle of embalming fluid

An “odd” collectible: A bottle of embalming fluid.

Of course, it cannot be denied that among the plethora of collecting shows on television, there has been a focus on the odd. From Pawn Stars to American Pickers, the focus is on the uncommon items. It makes sense, because few people are going to tune in to see the usual figurines, kitchenalia, and action figures that make up the bread and butter of this business; so rare items are what they are going to feature. However, its shows like Oddities and its spin-offs Oddities: San Francisco & Odd Folks Home that have brought both collectibles and collectors who seem rather uncommon to the forefront. But are these items, these collections, these shops that odd?

True, nature and talent have limited the number of two-headed calf taxidermies; but that not only makes them odd or rare, but priced accordingly. The more rare an item is, the higher it will be priced; and the higher the price, the less likely to sell quickly. The truth is, more people would likely collect creepy talking Edison dolls, mortuary items, freak taxidermy pieces (natural or fake gaffs), or pieces of Egyptian mummies – if they could only afford them. And that presents a reality not only for collectors, but shop owners and antiques dealers as well.

But, there are those pieces that are odd, rare, and low-priced. See Part 2 of this post for a look at some of these items.

Do you collect anything you consider “unique”? Leave a comment below with your story.

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