The joy of collecting | April 25, 2008 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - April 25, 2008

The joy of collecting

Four residents reveal their prized possessions

by Katie Lyness

There are a lot of collectors in Pleasanton, but not all of them collect something really different and unusual. Some common collections are stuffed animals, key chains, rocks and stamps. But there are people in Pleasanton who collect much more uncommon things, such as quotes, elephant figurines, Hummel dolls from Germany and egg-shaped paperweights.

Dina Cox been collecting quotes for almost seven years and says she will never stop. She thinks quotes are a powerful and meaningful way to express thoughts and feelings and to have an impact on other people. She has always had a passion for quotes. Her collection has thousands of quotes because she tries to find a new one every single day. Her main quote-finding source is the Web site She also has a whole bookshelf in her office that is filled with books of quotes and expressions.

Dina dedicates about five minutes of every day to searching for quotes. She enjoys reading and thinking about her quotes, and other people do too. Dina always posts a "quote of the day" at her office. She also attaches a quote to the bottom of every email she sends. The reason she continues collecting is because so many people tell her how much it made their day or touched their life after reading the quote she has sent to them.

Dina doesn't send complicated quotes that are hard to understand because she wants people to know right away what the quote means; if it is not easy to figure out what a quote means, it won't make an impact on anyone. Her favorite quote is by Ralph Waldo Emerson who said "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us." Another quote she likes is by Shakespeare, who said "Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."

Occasionally when Dina can't find a quote she likes, she'll make up her own. One quote Dina wrote herself is, "Aim to make a difference in someone's life every day, even if it is a smile to a stranger, and happiness will always be yours." Dina's quotes are like treasures to her just like elephant figurines are treasures to Mary Pat Hawkins.

Mary Pat started collecting elephant figurines when she was a child because at a casino in Sparks, Nev., near her childhood home, there was a live elephant named Bertha, who had a baby elephant named Tina. Mary Pat loved to visit those elephants when she was growing up. Her elephant collection contains 43 elephants that are from all around the world. She has learned from collecting elephant figurines that most are made with their trunks curving upwards because it is a superstition that an elephant with its trunk facing down means bad luck. Mary Pat doesn't believe in being superstitious, but still, more than half (22 elephants) of her elephants have their trunks facing up.

Her collection first started with a blown glass elephant from Disneyland because she was fascinated by the glassblowers she saw making creations when she was there. Most of her elephants are from friends, relatives and her travels. She has accumulated many from places like Scotland, China, France, Italy and India. She thinks it is very interesting that many of these places where she finds elephant figurines don't even have real elephants living there, except for at zoos.

Her favorite elephant is from India. It is wooden and has a baby carved inside of it. She thinks it was made by a blind man, which makes it even more special. Mary Pat says she especially likes the elephants with babies inside of them because they remind her that elephants are great mothers. She also has a book about elephants by Sara Gruen, titled "Water for Elephants" and it is her favorite. She recommends this book to people because she thinks that even if they don't collect elephants themselves, most people around the world find elephants charming and endearing. Elephants are known to be really smart, too.

Mary Pat's collection keeps getting bigger because elephants from different places in the world all have their own style so she is always able to find new and different ones wherever she goes. All of the elephants in her collection are very different in value. She believes that her most valuable one is an elephant sitting on a blue gemstone ball because it is made out of pure gold. Her least valuable elephant is a Beanie Baby elephant. Some of her other elephant figurines are made with amber, terracotta, silver, stone, granite, clay, metal and porcelain. A few of her elephants are signed by the artist who made them, which makes them very special and rare.

Someone else in town who collects something that fits easily into a suitcase is Kate McAteer. She collects Hummels. A Hummel is a small German doll-type figurine. The Gobel Factory, which makes the Hummels, is located in Bavaria. Although they come from Germany, Kate says she did not see a single Hummel in anyone's home when she traveled to Germany several years ago. Kate's first Hummel came from her son Brian. He was on a class trip in Germany and brought home a red-headed Hummel for her. She has about 30 Hummels in her collection. Hummels come in two sizes: large and small. Kate buys the smaller ones, which cost on average around $70. The larger ones are much more expensive, and some of the Christmas-themed Hummels are actually thousands of dollars so Kate does not collect those.

Some of Kate's Hummels have distinctive "maker's marks." The mark is crown-shaped and makes the Hummels very valuable. Kate is very active when it comes to Hummel collecting. When she used to live in New Jersey, she was a member of the Hummel Club located in Pennington, N.J. Kate will always continue collecting her Hummels and puts Hummels on her wish list whenever people ask what kind of gift she wants for her birthday or for Christmas.

Kate's daughter, Barbara McAteer, also of Pleasanton, inherited her mother's "collecting genes." Barbara collects egg-shaped paperweights. She has about 40 of them and collects them because she really likes their shape. She started her collection after her husband Werner gave her a golden egg as a gift. The golden egg is from Thailand and is supposed to be a real egg that was dipped in gold. Barbara is sometimes tempted to smash the golden egg with a hammer to find out if there is really a real egg inside. She will never actually do that though because if she did, she would not only ruin the golden egg, but she would also make a big, smelly mess if there really is a real egg inside of it. Most of Barbara's egg-shaped paperweights are made of glass. They are very colorful and beautiful and Barbara enjoys looking at them and sometimes holding them in her hands.

All of these collectors of Pleasanton have something in common. They all love collecting because they really enjoy their items, and can pass it on, or at least the idea of collecting, to a friend or relative if they are interested. These people make Pleasanton a much more interesting place to live in than it would be if everyone who lived here all just collected the same thing.

Katie Lyness is a youth correspondent for the Pleasanton Weekly. She's a fifth grader at Vintage Hills Elementary School.


Posted by Jenny, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 28, 2008 at 3:52 pm

This was a really interesting article. Pleasanton sure is filled with interesting people who collect really neat things.