Collecting — We Aren’t the Only Ones

A few years back, I had the privilege of writing for my favoite Disney website.  (  Recently I happened to think of those old columns, and have decided to share one today.  This originally ran on April 28, 2004, and offers some thoughts on collecting in general.  By the way, the NFFC is now the Disneyana Fan Club (


We Aren’t The Only Ones!

One of my favorite mementos from an NFFC Convention is an Elks Lodge pin.

This story begins on April 22, 1998, with the opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World. I had never been to the “birth” of a Disney park before, so I drove down from Dayton, Ohio to be there the first day. Of course, throughout the day I bought my share of merchandise. When I saw the buttons and cloisonne pins, I had a brainstorm – I would purchase a half dozen of each, the extras being for friends who couldn’t make it to this new park before I saw them. Then I would be able to accommodate them in the true spirit of Disney collecting (I’ll sell them to ya!).

Except I had grossly underestimated my fellow collectors. When I arrived at the NFFC Convention in July, everyone who’d wanted an Animal Kingdom pin or button already had one. No takers!

This was still true at Sunday’s Show & Sale. After shopping as much as I could afford, I headed to the hotel’s bus stop so I could visit Disneyland one last time before my trip home. I was standing at the bus stop, holding a camera bag with my extra buttons and pins, when I heard a voice behind me yell “Anyone here trade pins”?


Elks & AK Pins


The owner of that voice was a middle-age man who had just checked into the hotel and was visiting Disneyland for the first time in his trip. He had come for a convention of the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, the group following the NFFC into the hotel. He of course meant Elks pins, but what the hey! After a brief discussion, I traded one of my extra Animal Kingdom pins for a Michigan Elks pin.

This made me realize we certainly aren’t the only passionate group of collectors out there. I immediately thought back to one of the early NFFC Conventions held at the old Inn At The Park hotel. In a free moment, several of my friends decided to visit Disney artist Charles Boyer, who at the time was working out of the office tower that was part of the Hyatt Princess Alicante hotel a few blocks south. They came back somewhat shaken. It seems the Princess Alicante was hosting a Barbie convention. The lobby was filled with women, each carrying her favorite doll. And each was dressed and made up to exactly match her doll! They could only shake their heads. “And people think we’re strange.”

Speaking of strange, one of my first projects at Tomart was Tomart’s Price Guide to Garage Sale Gold, listing the most valuable contemporary collectibles in 52 categories. One category I researched was thimbles, and while doing so I came across the May/June 1992 issue of The Thimbletter, a newsletter published by Mrs. Lorraine M. Crosby. This issue contained the “Thimble Collectors’ Survey & Questionnaire,” the best example I’ve found so far as to what can happen when collecting becomes obsessive. Mrs. Crosby has graciously given me permission to reproduce it here (in slightly abbreviated form, with the choices following the questions).

And if you start, please promise you’ll read the entire questionnaire.


Thimble Collectors’ Survey & Questionnaire

List the number of thimbles you own under the following categories:

Gold, silver, pewter, aluminum, nickel, brass, porcelain, ceramic, wood, ivory, plastic, other

Of this total, how many thimbles do you consider to be intimate, personal and lasting friends or companions?

Do you have names for your thimbles? Example: Irv, Ted, Joe, Gwendolyne, Pat, Nancy?

Yes, No

Do you dream of thimbles?

Yes, No, Sometimes

Have you ever had a conversation, chat or dialogue with a thimble/thimbles?

Yes, No, Tried

Are all of your thimbles “housebroken”?

Yes, No, Some

Do your thimbles have a listed or unlisted phone number?

Listed, Unlisted, Party Line

Do you take your thimbles on vacation with you, or go separately?

Together, Separately

Do you watch TV with your thimbles?

Yes, No

If so, who picks the show?

Thimble, You

Do you give your thimbles an allowance, holiday bonus, tip or gratuity?

Yes, No

Do any of your thimbles play cards, go bowling, golf or play board games (please exclude Monopoly)?

Yes, No, Specify

Do you own a thimble that speaks a foreign language, or speaks in strange tongues?

Yes, No

HYPOTHETICALLY: on Saturday night would you let your favorite thimble drive your car?

Yes, No, Take bus

HYPOTHETICALLY: your house catches fire. You can save only yourself or your thimbles.

Self, Thimbles

HYPOTHETICALLY: it is Thanksgiving and your favorite thimble requests the last turkey drumstick. Do you…?

Give thimble drumstick, Share drumstick, Pass the carrots

HYPOTHETICALLY: you leave for work and your thimbles are lonely. Do you…?

Leave the radio playing, Bring them with you, Skip work, Pay a thimblesitter

HYPOTHETICALLY: one of your young thimbles has been bad. Do you…?

Mildly reprimand; Spare the rod, spoil the thimble; Spank

HYPOTHETICALLY: it is Saturday morning, no work. Do you…?

Let your thimbles sleep late, Wake them, Serve breakfast in bed

HYPOTHETICALLY: one of your thimbles runs away from home. Who do you call?

Police, Thimbletter, FBI, All of the above

Have you ever pledged allegiance to a thimble? Or belonged to an organization that advocated a utopian thimble-oriented society?

Yes, No, Only desired to

Note: If you have answered any question past #10, you are sick and need to seek professional counseling or related assistance. Check your local Yellow Pages under “Psy” for psychiatry… and please do not return this questionnaire to me… I’m working on the next issue…

Copyright 1992 by The Thimbletter, used with permission.

Postscript: Unfortunately, thimbles were not one of the 52 categories inTomart’s Price Guide to Garage Sale Gold. Mrs. Crosby retired from publishingThe Thimbletter in 2000 after 23 years. However, she reports thimble collecting is still going strong, with a convention planned for this August in Danvers, Massachusetts. No word on how many thimbles are expected to attend alone.


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