Claire Thompson
March 2, 2022

Do You Have A Collection Or Merely Clutter?

When do collectibles become clutter? What should you do about it? easyStorage takes a peek.

Whilst a collection of things is the action or process of collecting something, clutter is a collection of things lying around in an untidy state.  When collections start to grow, one can easily become the other.

So how do collectors stop one (a collection) becoming the other? Or help clutter turn back into a prized collection? It can prove a challenge!

Before your home disappears under a swamp of collectibles, or your partner files for divorce, here are a few tips to keep you on the right side of the collection/clutter divide.

The best way to have a successful collection is to know it like the back of your hand and to know what’s where.

Start with your purpose

A quick search of the Guinness Book of records throws up collections of just about everything from crayons and umbrella covers to golf clubs and even bagpipes.

In 2014, psychologist Christian Jarrett wrote a fabulous article for the Guardian, ‘Why do we collect things? Love, anxiety or desire'.

So think! Why are you collecting?  What is this collection for? For example:

·         Does it demonstrate expertise, for example collections of rare orchids or cacti?

·         Is it sentiment, like football memorabilia?

·         Is it potential value, maybe an art or jewellery collection, or trading cards?

·         Is it love of/emotional attachment to a certain thing, like works of a particular artist or author, or something as simple as owl shaped or wooden objects?

·         Is it simply carrying on where someone left off?

·         Does it give you peace and calm, like collecting stamps or shells?

·         Maybe it allows you to do something with purpose, like travel the country or even the World, meet new people or other enthusiasts.

·         Is it related to your work – for example pharmacists jars or nursing buckles, or trading certain items?

·         Does it expand your social network of like-minded people?

·         Maybe it’s just plain old-fashioned fun.

Knowing ‘why’ you keep things can help you decide what to do with those things, like whether and how to store them, what to put on show etc.

Collection of old books and novels

Be conscious of any tax implications

Anyone who buys collectibles may be classified as a dealer, hobbyist, or investor. Each of these has different tax consequences. Collectibles can be considered capital assets and buying and selling can be viewed as capital gains for tax reasons.

If they ARE taxable, the good news is that costs of storage or insurance may be deductible but be aware that this may not be the case if you display a collectible in your home, wear it, or use it in a personal way.

But don’t stress. Despite high-value auctions hitting the news, most collectibles’ true value is from ten to a few thousand pounds, (so even if you’ve had a stamp collection for forty years, don’t be disappointed if that collection doesn’t make top dollar.) Markets change, and once people catch onto something having collectible value, sheer volumes of collections of these things reduce their resale value, and only rarities command good prices.

Unless you are a professional collector, the tax man may not be beating a path to your door – but once there’s a lot of money involved, it would be as well to check tax rules.

Has your collection genuinely become clutter?

Clutter has come to mean ‘worthless mess’ to many, but perhaps all that’s needed is a little order.

If a collection has reached the point of becoming a burden and is no longer giving you pleasure, it may be time to pass it on (whether you choose to sell or give) or dispose of it if no-one wants it. (Toenail cutting spring to mind for some awful reason.) Be realistic.

But it may just be the right time to put some order into your collection to remove the ‘clutter effect’.

A collection full of clutter

How big do you want your collection to be?

Ask yourself:

·         What space would I like this collection to fit into?

·         Am I happy to create space to own more of these collectibles?

·         Am I prepared to pay for space to store these things?

·         Could they be loaned out to be on show somewhere?

The answers to these questions will allow you to assess how much is too much – for you, and how to move forward in the right way for you.

Know what you have

Some collections, like football cards, have holders that make it obvious what you do and don’t have, but most collections don’t have this luxury.

Note what you have to an appropriate level. For example, if you’re the one collecting those crayons for a Guinness World Record, just numbers are probably enough, but for most things knowing what you have will immediately flush out any duplicates.

This is especially important of you are putting anything into storage – it will allow you to keep track of what you have and rotate what’s on show, which leads us nicely onto…

Stamp collection

What do you want on show?

Even first-class museums and art galleries don’t put everything on show at once.  It’s too much to take in.

Decide what space you have for it, and how much you want to have on show, along with deciding what you are going to put away for another time.

Maybe you want nothing on show – your collection is for you alone. It’s all part of the same process – if the answer is nothing, everything gets put away.

Deal with duplicates

If you have duplicates of your collectibles, it may be an ideal time to swap or sell, even give away, what you don’t need for your collection.

A coin collection being examined

Label and list


Label everything where possible!

What needs to be on your label? This might include:

·         Date and location of purchase

·         Price paid

·         Your name/organisation, especially if things are stored in a shared space

You are labelling this for you as much as for anyone else who may need to sort through later, so what will it be valuable to know?


Now that you know exactly what you have, list what’s in the collection – including where each piece is.

Computers are your friend as they’ll make for easy updating as you loan, increase your collection, store or sell. But manually kept systems can be equally effective and for many things have a certain charm.

Do what works for you and make sure you commit to updating it as things change.

You may well surprise yourself – you’ll see at a glance what your collection comprises, may be able to spot any holes, and should feel a sense of pride at having assembled so many things of value to you.

For amateur/hobbyist collectors, it feels quite professional to have it all listed as ‘a collection’.

Weeding out

You already looked for duplicates, but are there other things you don’t really value any longer? Things that don’t quite fit in the current collection.

Depending on how much you’ve accumulated, weeding out may need time. Take the time you need to ensure you don’t throw or give away something you may later regret. You can always store things (even separately from the rest of the collection) whilst you make up your mind.


What you don’t have on display will need storing away.

If your collection is alive, like the plants we mentioned, you may have less choices and may need to create a greenhouse or similar to create your own storage space.

For most things, however, if you are lucky enough to have plenty of space, simply ensure that things are properly packed away, that the contents of each box or carton are visible on a list on the outside, that the boxes are strong and properly sealed, and that the storage space is dry.

Make sure that boxes are marked fragile (if they are), and that top and bottom are indicated where appropriate.

This way you can enjoy your collection, without ever feeling that it’s turned to clutter – and you’ll feel far better about being a collector if you know what you have and where.

Help is at hand:

·         The easyStorageBoxes blog has many useful tips on how to pack things away safely:

·         easyStorageBoxes has a range of good quality packing materials to help you pack well, with next day delivery in many cases

·         If you need storage, easyStorage self-storage comes in at around half the price of traditional self storage, and has a no commitment price calculator available online, 24/7 easyStorage.

Claire Thompson

Claire joined the easyStorage family as a blogger in August 2020 and is loving it! Her passions include writing and learning, and with easyStorage she’s learning new things fast. When not tapping at a keyboard she can be found renovating an old cottage, despite having inherited a complete lack of DIY skills from her father. She has two children, now grown up, and a dopey, loving Vizler (dog), Chester, who steadfastly refuses to do the same. She claims he’s her soulmate!

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