Collector’s Attic: Everyone has to start somewhere

Monday, September 22, 2014 by

The Beginning
Around the same time I bought Rebel, my first Irish Setter, the mother of a co-worker started painting ceramics as a hobby. She offered a lovely Irish Setter statue on point at a reasonable price so I purchased it. Why not? I mused. Over three hundred statues later, I am still asking the same question! Or maybe I should be asking;"WHY?" instead. (smile)
The statue did start me on the merry path of collecting. I bought anything I saw and could afford if it depicted an Irish Setter. My theory was, "I better buy this rather than have it go to someone who would not appreciate its collectible value". Worked for me.
"Free Sample" can backfire
At the time, I was married to a man who sold wholesale to gift shops and the like. It was fun to peruse the catalogs he got in the mail. I looked for Setter statues of course. One catalog showed two styles of Irish in hunting poses. One dog was a more field Setter style and the other the fuller coated show style. The manufacturer offered the opportunity to order samples of their products instead of having to buy the minimum. Seeing an opportunity to add to my collection; I persuaded my spouse to order samples. Imagine our surprise when we received a DOZEN of each statue! And we were billed for them. So much for one each in "samples". Needless to say, I quickly contacted all Irish Setter collectors that I knew in the hopes I could at least sell a few figures because I felt so guilty having urged him to order them in the first place. I did keep three for my collection. I left two the natural off white color and painted one realistic Setter red. From time to time I still see them offered on Ebay and wonder if they are from that sample order or if others did the same thing I did and are still trying to unload the extras. Lesson learned. Oh! And I got rid of that husband but I still have the statues (and a new husband who aids and abets me in my hobby).
The addiction started early
I was the kind of child who was happy if my grandparents bought me a china dog statue when we went to the five and ten cent store. (Woolworth's is an example). They were such fun places and most people miss having these stores now. My first dogs were a china Boston Bulldog (painted brown and cream) and Collies. I was a big fan of Lassie. I still have those statues too. The Bulldog is pictured here.
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The beautiful pillow next to him is by Gone Doggin ( They have gorgeous scenes of dogs depicted on material in many items. They sell jackets, purses, pillows, place mats and other things. You have seen the mats on pictures of my wall in past articles. They were so beautiful we hung them as tapestries (which they also sell by the way) I am sharing a picture of a wallet friends sent me recently . It is also from this company. They are nice to do business with ; I have met them at dog shows.
Collecting encourages people to "help"
When word gets around that you collect, people often tell you about items they have seen, share catalogs with you, or even buy you little trinkets they think you might like. This often results in some "new" breeds because they are sometimes wrong in identifying the breed as yours. I have received Pointers, Afghans, and Cocker Spaniels that people were positive were Setters. I thanked them graciously and wondered if they noticed how different my dog was to these the next time they saw him. One day, I acquired an entire small collection from a co-worker because she knew I appreciated the value of a collection. Her brother-in-law died and she was leery the family would just pack his dogs away in the garage or even discard them. She asked me to take them. He collected Dalmatians.
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Well....I am into Setters but my aunt and uncle had a Dal when my cousin and I were children so I thought I would give them a good home. (see picture) I even added a few dogs to the collection. They are on Prince's shelf (my relatives' dog's name). In a previous column I shared a portrait my late father painted of Prince. I was also involved in model dog showing at the time and used a few of the Dalmatians in scenes for the contests the group held each month.
You can't have just one favourite
I often browsed shops only to find pretty statues in other breeds or animals that I liked. I was, as I mentioned earlier, a Lassie fan so I HAD to buy Collie statues didn't I? I did put a limit on spending for any dogs that were not Irish Setters (see photo of my Collie shelves).
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I added the other Setter breeds too. "Just to round things out you know" (at least that was my excuse). I also put a spending limit on those and did not buy every Setter I saw.
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Somehow wolves found their way into the collection too. (see photo of some of the wolves I own). I do love the wolf and a local zoo had a pack with one white male who had a wonderful personality. He would follow you around if he saw you had a camera and were walking on the outside of his enclosure.  Lost my heart to a wolf!
I have cats too so had to add a few cat figures so as not to hurt their feelings, right? My dream collectibles in the cat department came when my cousins allowed me to have their late aunt's LaLique crystal cats. They are something I could never have purchased for myself and they are in a place of honor in my breakfront. There are three life-sized cats-two sitting and one lying down.
Clearing things out
What got me started on the subject for this column was my trying to thin out my collection now that I am older. I did not get very far, instead it got me remembering all the stories that went with certain special pieces. Couldn't part with the ones that had "biographies" now could I? Maybe I will leave the thinning out for another day. Meantime it is a good thing I have one whole room just for the collection.
In conclusion
And that brings me to the question of the day: How did YOU get started collecting? What breed or breeds do you collect? Please feel free to contact me so I may do an article about you and your collection. Better yet, write your own article and submit it to our editor, Jan Irving, for this wonderful magazine she publishes. (editor: please do submit your story!)
Until next issue: Happy Collecting !!!
Editor: So how did the editor get started? Stamps, postage stamps, not dogs, just a world collection, a family hobby, and we had a value for money approval service my parents subscribed me up too. Now, it is anything that features good Clumber Spaniels, had to restrict myself because I am unlikely to be ever guilty of 'Clearing things out'!


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