Collecting or Hoarding — One in the same?

Collecting Treasures: Everyone has their view of what a collection is or what a hoarding situation is

Being in the auction estate liquidation business, I’ve seen things … bad things and really cool things.

Everyone has their view of what a collection is or what a hoarding situation is and there is a big difference!

For example, I had a client who viewed her mother’s collection of 50 Lladró art porcelain figures to be a hoarding situation.

In our initial conversation, she stated that her mother was a hoarder and the home was packed full of these figurines. When I arrived at the home, I found the mother only collected Lladrós and only had 50, which is far from hoarding. But, they were valuable figures, as she only collected Lladrós that were in the several thousand dollar range and the home was nicely kept and clean with no trash to be found.

Enter client No. 2. The client called me out to see his mother’s “collection.” He didn’t state what the collection was, but said it was large and very extensive.

So, upon arriving at the home, I knocked on the door, and as soon as it opened, the aroma of a hoarder hit me square in the face! Yes she was a collector … a collector of worthless stuff.

She loved to collect plastic food containers, some clean and some still with two-year-old food in them. There were small porcelain unicorn figurines that you’d find at the dollar store that had no makers’ mark attributed to them, and most were bought new within the past 10 years.

The home was very unkept, and it didn’t look as if it had been cleaned in years. The fact is, his mother saved everything. She threw nothing away. The home was littered with stuff floor to ceiling and there wasn’t a room or closet that wasn’t packed full of stuff.

When I explained the “collection” held little to no value, it didn’t sit well with the mother. As far as she was concerned, it was all valuable stuff she held dear to her heart.

We did get hired to clean out the home and sell the contents, and we did find valuable items buried within the mounds of plastic containers and unicorns, but the majority of the items she collected wound up being donated since they held little value.

The old adage, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” holds true to these situations as everybody has their own view on what holds value and beauty.

But, a true collector will collect a certain genre and not let it overflow into collecting everything they come in contact with.

Erik Hoyer co-owns EJ’s Auction & Consignment in Glendale and J. Levine Auction & Appraisal in Scottsdale. Reach him at or@EJs_Auction on Twitter.

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