Crazy collections

Updated 16 Feb 2019


Most of us can never have enough of the things that we like, but what enough means to different people is relative. For someone, having 20 pairs of shoes or 10 unique wristwatches is good enough, for others even hundreds and thousands of their favourite things does not satisfy their desire for more.

Yes, there are many people around the world who are obsessed with collecting things and while it is easy to understand the importance of some of these collections due to their value, such as artwork, books, poster, coins, autographs, etc, some of the collections just defy logic or reason. For instance, there is someone who collects toe nail clippings, then there is one who collects water bottles. Isn't this just bizarre

Wait, there is more to come because there are many collectors around the world who, for one reason or the other, have amassed huge collections of things that are both weird and interesting. And they take pride in holding Guinness World Records for these weird things that only they want in such large numbers. So let's check out what these weird collections are and what motivated these people to spend so much time, energy, space and money on these things

There are many more that don't make the list here and some that were deliberately left out because they are too bizarre to give space to.

Celebrity hair locks

American John Reznikoff is credited with having the most expansive collection of celebrity hair locks in the world. For him, this craze is like owning "a piece of famous people", and to amass this collection, he travelled extensively, tracking down locks of hair from different famous celebrities and historical figures.

His collection, which is insured for a cool million dollars, includes the hair of Edgar Allan Poe, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe and Ludwig van Beethoven, Neil Armstrong and of current celebrities such as Justin Bieber.

Airline barf bags

Marketing and investment consultant Niek Vermeulen of the Netherlands has more than six thousand airsickness bags from 1,191 different airlines and almost 200 countries. He holds the Guinness World Record for it since 1986.

Vermeulen didn't just start collecting these because he was fascinated by airsickness bags that passengers always find in front of their seats in aeroplanes, it all happened as the result of a bet.

Vermeulen and a friend made a bet to see who could accumulate the most of any one item and set a world record. Soon after, he was using a sick bag to scribble down something during a flight and later kept the bag in his briefcase and brought it home.

Hence his collection was born and it grew as Vermeulen and his family carried back home airsickness bags from all their international flights and friends also helped by bringing him any unusual barf bag specimens they come across in their travels. Do you want to know his most prized bag in the collection? It is an airsickness bag from the Nasa space shuttle Columbia which spent 16 days in space! While collecting the barf bags, Vermeulen also accumulated another interesting collection, that of around 1,200 airline playing cards, which is the largest collection of this kind in the Netherlands and belongs to the top ten in the world.

Do Not Disturb hotel signs

In 1985, while staying at a hotel in Sheffield, England, Swiss accountant Jean Francois Vernetti spotted a spelling error on a "Do Not Disturb" sign. "It was hilarious," he told Guinness World Records.

"I found it so funny that I took it home and showed it to the local newspaper - who published a photo of it."

This was the beginning of the world's largest collection of "Do Not Disturb" signs that has now become a staggering 11,111 different notices from 189 different countries and this figure is a few years old so the collection must be larger now. Jean, who often books hotels for just a single night and changes hotels during his trips specifically to add more signs to his collection, says that each sign brings back a special memory to him.

Barbie dolls

Bettina Dorfman's collection is what every little girl's dreams are made of - Barbie dolls! The German housewife reportedly owns more than 17,000 Barbie dolls and holds the Guinness World Record for the largest collection in the world. It all started when she was just 10-year-old and was given a Barbie as a present during a stay in the hospital.

This Barbie superfan keeps her dolls at different places in her house and has a dedicated Barbie room dubbed 'Barbie's Kingdom' for her most treasured dolls.

Her collection includes several pricey limited edition Barbies, including a replica of the model Twiggy, Marilyn Monroe and Sandy from the film Grease. She also has a rare Grace Kelly Barbie doll in the outfit she was wearing when she first met Prince Rainier of Monaco. Bettina also operates a Barbie hospital in her kitchen, where people from all over the world send her their broken dolls for repair. ?

Talking clocks

Since 1990, Mark McKinley, a retired professor of psychology in Ohio, the US, has amassed the world's largest collection of talking clocks. Numbering over 1,000, his collection includes talking clocks from every era and corner of the world. The clocks can be found in every corner of his house and chime continuously throughout the day.

McKinley is an author of six books and also holds two Guinness World Records -- for the largest collection of talking clocks and the longest uninterrupted series of figure eights on a personal transporter in less than two minutes, according to reports. His collection started because he needed to find a talking clock for his mother, who was sight impaired. Soon he started to actively seek out the audible timekeepers, finding them at garage sales and online auctions.

He also received many as gifts. His impressive collection spans functional alarm clocks to funky coo-coo clocks and everything else in between McKinley is the founder and president of the International Society of Talking Clock Collectors, maintains a virtual clock museum and has published a book Tick Tock Talk: The Collected History and Significance of Talking Clocks. He also uploads videos of his talking clocks on YouTube.

But twice a year, he gets bogged down in a chore he finds most disagreeable: adjusting his clocks for Daylight Saving Time. Each autumn, he and his wife, Susan, spend about nine hours resetting clocks; the spring adjustment takes about six hours. The reset routine includes changing the batteries - a costly measure that requires more than a thousand batteries each year. "I find it extremely irritating to have to spend so much time changing the time," he said.


Kevin Cook started his dice collection in 1977 when he first played Dungeons and Dragons, which requires at least one set of dice. It was years later, in 1981, that he really got interested in dice when he came upon an old shoe box full of dice in a pawn shop.

But Cook says that the pawn shop discovery didn't really add to his collection as many were crystallised dice which disintegrated on examination and some bone dice. But now Cook was hooked on collecting dice and gaming shops became his main source for it. There are now laser engraved and 3D printed ones that have seen his collection grow far more than the 11,097 dice that made him the Guinness record holder.

Hot sauce

Vic Clinco is the proud owner and proprietor of the largest privately owned hot sauce collection in the world. 'The Collection' as he calls it, has over 8,600 bottles of hot sauce in unopened, factory sealed bottles from all over the world.

A lover of hot and spicy foods, Clinco proudly displays his collection in his living room which he considers as 'a museum, shrine and homage to hot sauces'. Included in his collection is a rare bottle of Blair's 16 Million Reserve, the hottest hot sauce on the planet. He also has a bottle of Paulman Acre SoCaliANTe: a hot sauce made with edible black ants.

He has been collecting these sauces for over two decades and discloses that a love for hot and spicy food runs in his family. Knowing his fondness for hot sauces, friends and family started giving it to him as a gift. Then he came across a book The Great Hot Sauce Book by Jennifer Trainer Thompson, and that got him hooked. "It was basically a picture album of hot sauces from literally all over the world," Clinco says, "I used it as a checklist." His collection increases nearly daily and Clinco is a regular at spicy food festivals.

Miniature chairs

For almost 20 years now, Barbara Harts field has been collecting miniature chairs and has a record-breaking collection of more than 3,000 pieces. The chairs are not doll furniture, but functional chair designed as lamps, cookie jars, teapots, salt/pepper shakers, clocks and much more.

There is a chair design category for each letter of the alphabet. The collection came about from shopping in antique stores, eBay, catalogues, retail home decor stores, travel and gifts. Harts field opened a weekend museum in 2009 to share the collection with others.

Published in Dawn, Young World, February 16th, 2019