Your Stuff

by the Aquisitional Musette

This week is going to be jam-ola; I’m writing this Sunday night because come tomorrow at o’dark-thirty, we begin a mad dash to quote a huge job (pray for your Evil Auntie Alien, okay?).  It has to be in Wednesday am so if I’m slow to respond on Tuesday don’t be mad, okay?  I promise I’ll get back to you later in the day because I am really interested in what you guys will have to say about this post.  Well, I’m always interested (otherwise, why bother writing, right?)  but this one is a little, shall we say’ different?  Yes.  Different.

Let’s talk Afterlife, okay?  Not your afterlife.  The afterlife of your perfumes and other collections once you either depart this particular plane or…you no longer are able to care for or about your collections.  I am not trying to be morbid here – this thought comes up a lot for me because a) I’m moving into the back end of  middle age (there will come a time when we Boomers will simply have to Give. It. Up.  Yeah, 50 is the New 30, blahblahblah….but what?  90 will be the New 50?  Maybe….but…..well, okay moving on)… And b) I have a Whole Lotta Stuff, most of it well-curated collections that I love and don’t want to give up yet but need to ‘plan’ for.  Western Civ is not known for its casual acceptance of diminution and death and never moreso has it been fought against than with mine own generation.  But at some point we are going to have to shuffle off our mortal coils.  And as you guys know, I’ve had a passing convo with Death already, so I’m not quite as skeeved by it as others might be.  Then the vaunted New York Times ran this article about that very thing.  And it’s that time of year when I start decluttering the perfume cabinet and moving warmer weather frags to the front… and you know what?  It’s a LOT of stuff.  No matter if you collect vintage Guerlain,  Lladro porcelains or plastic clowns, have you thought about ‘the next phase’ for your Collections?  Those of you who have children or younger friends with the same interests are lucky – the cubs couldn’t care less about my stuff – they want their dad’s motorcycles and tools.  My stuff?  yeah, right.   I’ve arranged for a 911 transfer of my perfumes to a perfumista friend (and she to me) but we’re both hoping we won’t have to enact that plan.  Will my goddaughter want my vintage L’Aimant?  Prolly not.  Then again, who would’ve thought I would want it!  Decisions, decisions…hedging bets against an uncertain future.  Good grief!  What a downer.  Sorry.

I’ve started taking a rather actuarial look at my collections and lots of interesting emotions are popping up.  For example, the egotistical part of me would love to have my vintage Blenko glass collection go for a huge sum – then I remember the intense joy I got when I got my vintage cylinder vase with the blue/green snakes ($11. Antique mall) – perhaps it should go back out into the Universe thusly, allowing for someone else to get that quickening of joy.  Ditto the  puppet story books from my childhood, which, after 30 years of searching, I finally stumbled upon (Cinderella.  $1.  Goodwill.  Thank you)


I am unlikely to stop acquiring perfume anytime soon but you wanna talk ‘actuarial’?  Were I to stop this very minute, and still live another 40 years (putting me at the hefty age of 96) in full physical and mental health…allowing for daily, non-soaking application of scent (heck, I’ll give it a fighting chance and do two different apps daily, as so many of us do, SOTD and SOTE)…I am still unlikely to be able to drain my current collection in this lifetime.  And I am a piker compared to a lot of perfume collectors.


So tell me about your plans.   Besides perfume, what do you collect???   (c’mon, you know you do) What are you going to do with all of it?  I’m  still working on mine…and yet..More Stuff keeps showing up!

Wordbird March 7, 2012

I came up with an answer to the perfume collection thing: I'm asking my family to put my bottles of perfume on a table at the wake and tell everyone to take one when they leave, to remember me by.

March March 7, 2012

All these comments made me laugh and also feel a little verklempt. The things we collect to give us comfort, and how much/little they mean to those who we love.

nozknoz March 7, 2012

Great topic, Musette! I need to get rid of some of my clutter for my own sake, but I'm paying for life insurance so that my brothers or nieces and nephews can pay someone to get rid of my stuff, so I'm not going to fret about that. I'm not particularly afraid of dying, but I do fear the decrepitude, and spend much of my free time exercising, etc., to stave it off. My mother had macular degeneration, so the last thing I'm worried about is what will happen to my perfume after I'm gone. I'll be gone after all: I won't care. I have many books, a few pieces of handcrafted jewelry by some of the artists one sees in Ornament magazine, and various baskets, beads and other handicrafts from Africa and South America. I'm fascinated by these things made by hand that soon no one will remember how to do. Oh, and two or three carpets from Central Asia and the Caucasus. And old post cards. All right: total pack rat. But I'm only buying the occasional perfume and book now that I am almost retired - honest!

maggiecat March 7, 2012

Hey, we're the same age! I haven't thought about this much, but since I have a son who would probably not appreciate my perfume (or book or handbag) collections, perhaps I should! Maybe I should stipulate that all my scents should go to the nearest shelter for abused women? That's a good thought...

tammy March 6, 2012

Oh and every possible part is crossed, down to all four of my eyes! I can even cross my tongue!

tammy March 6, 2012

Oh my goodness,I have laughed my way heartily through this post and the comments. Very timely for me, as we have just gone through my late MIL's things. She was NOT a packrat, and it was a fairly easy job, though one does feel sort of bad not wanting various personal things. My own dear mama is a collector, and has a world class collection of....mice. Thousands and thousandsof various mice. She has been featured in local papers and magazines. Figurines, jewelry, teapots, S&P shakers, cookie jars, etc etc etc. There are many I do quite like, and the rest she is well aware will be eBayed. I got the bug to an extent, but I do not need thousands of anything. (Except books and music) I have a dozen hedgehogs, a few otters and some Classic Pooh Limoges boxes. I have a half dozen other Limoges boxes in garden/flower themes. I have some Chintzware and a few pieces of MacKenzie Childs in their Honeymoon and Chelsea Lustre patterns. I do fear that some angelically evil person here has got me started down the emerald green rhinestone jewelry path, but I am trying to hold steady. I have noticed that perfume bottles seem to have triggered the impulse....I am especially susceptible to heart shaped bottles and those with dangling charms, but I have noticed that sets seem to haunt me as well. I love the AP bottles and those new doggone Chloe bottles with the ribbon 'round the neck call to me, especially the one with the light green juice and the darn rose one with the pink juice. Perhaps I should quit talking about them now, as my fingers are beginning to twitch....

Flora March 6, 2012

I collect books, always have - I once had a lovely collection of vintage children's fairy tale books that took many years to accumulate until a flooded basement ruined the entire lot. I have not had the heart to try again, so I guess perfume is the only focused collection I have now; I still have a lot of books but they are all over the place as to subject and few of them are truly "collectibles" or worth much, that I know of. I keep meaning to find out if I am sitting on a treasure trove of priceless rarities....that way, I could buy more perfume if I sold them. ;-) As a gardener, I collect plants, and I have a lot of them, but those will probably be long gone by the time I go, or else they will be tended by others. I can only hope it's the latter.

Masha March 6, 2012

Sad to say, I never had a daughter, and my sons are mostly indifferent to the world of scent. BUT...there is another....(Star Wars Theme here)--I have a niece, and she looooves perfume, and is fascinated by it. Her mom hates it, but agrees that when Niece leaves home for university, she can have all the perfume she wants. She's in my will for every smelly thing I have (!)- the perfume, the scent library, the whole kit and kaboodle (though not my DH's gym clothes). I don't have the American Death Complex, thank goodness, so this topic actually makes me very happy, thanks for posting on it!

Susan March 6, 2012

I had some puppet storybooks kind of like that! But I was growing up in the 80s and I think mine were Japanese?? I had Goldilocks and the 10 Little Indians, and one that was a Mother Goose with different nursery rhymes. I loved those books.

Julie March 6, 2012

I have been thinking about this lately, more in terms of if I get hit by a bus, my poor husband will have to deal with my credit card debt! I'm working on it. While I have a lot of perfume, most of it is decants or not very expensive bottles. Nothing vintage or particularly valuable, so doubt that much of it would be easily sold. But it certainly is a good idea to have a plan rather than just dumping them at goodwill. One of these days we'll get a will done and I will put in some notes about how to get rid of it. I don't have any kids yet and none of my friends are particularly into perfume, so don't really know what that plan would be! I don't really have any other collections - just a lot of random knick-knacks of all types that are sentimental for one reason or another. And some stuff from my grandmother (a vanity, a porcelain doll, a set of dishes), which I would hope to keep in the family but nothing that would be heart-rending if it went to an estate sale or goodwill.

Kismet March 6, 2012

First, let me say that the collections described here sound fabulous! I'm imagining a guided tour of each one of them (well, OK, maybe not the syrup bottles and coffee tins :)) I really don't collect anything in an organized fashion, but like many here I have a tendency to accumulate based on interest--and you can end up with a lot of art, books, and pottery that way. And I may be headed in that direction with perfume. But I think one of the saddest scenarios in the world is the estate sale where some little lady's bottle of Evening In Paris that was "too nice to wear" is going for a pittance. Don't save it--wear it! Another epiphany for me was a college professor's remark that if he could visit a piece of art in a museum, he really didn't need to own it. Good luck with the proposal, Musette!

jen March 6, 2012

Hmm, did this question come up at 3a.m.? Cause I'll be dead and wont care a whit what happens to my perfumes. My nieces can throw them out, use them or sell them. To me, that's lke worrying about the estate tax-who cares, you'll be dead. I also collect painted rose plates, and if they go to the Salvation Army, a collector will get them and that will be fine.

fleurdelys March 6, 2012

Besides perfume, I have a small collection of nice jewelry, dolls, and Wedgwood. I'd like anything of value to be sold and the money given to animal charities (shelters, conservation societies, etc.) I don't have a lot of perfume, and as the years go by I think my collection will be whittled down to only those perfumes I truly love. Whatever is left when I go can be given away to whoever wants it.

Janice March 6, 2012

What a great question. First of all though, best of luck with the job! My folks are in their 80s and my mom is constantly saying she means to “get rid of a few things” and talks about what a big job it will be to deal with all their stuff. She has actually given away a few things, but their house is just scary—not quite Hoarders level, but decades and decades of accumulation, some of it valuable or with sentimental value all mixed in with things they’ve acquired or saved just because it might come in handy someday—hundreds of plastic margarine tubs, baby food jars (there hasn’t been a baby in the house for 46 years), those little tins instant coffee comes in… Because of that, I think, I’m pretty good about clearing things out regularly. I start to feel edgy when I have too much stuff or feel that it’s taking up too much space, like I don’t want to leave that big a footprint on the world or something, or that I just can’t be responsible for all of it. I have one sort of valuable collection of things that is all cataloged and separately insured and my husband and the rest of the family knows they should sell and not just give that to a thrift shop… but for the rest, including the (still growing) collection of perfume, that doesn’t seem like such a bad solution. Whoever has to deal with it (no kids) can go through the hassle of eBay or whatever if they want to, but maybe better to just put it out there and, as you say, maybe someone will find that particular bottle or book at Goodwill.

Eldarwen 22 March 6, 2012

My Galileo thermometer collection is my other collection. It still maybe small, but I don't know of anybody else who collects them. Let's just say that collecting Galileo thermometers is much cheaper than my perfume collection.

Teri March 6, 2012

I may be more aware of the curation of collections than many folks, being the last remaining female member of both sides of my family. At one time I had my maternal grandmother's collection of porcelain birds, my paternal grandmother's collection of antique photographs and postcards, and my mother's collection of teacups. Since I don't occupy a museum, I chose an item or two from each collection and either sold or donated the rest. It wasn't easy, but it was the right thing to do. I collect art glass and, of course, perfumes. My 'fumes will be well taken care of after I'm gone as I have been carefully instilling a love for and knowledge of scent into my son's significant other. Whether she chooses to keep them all or not (tastes do differ), at least she will not see them as 'junk' and toss them away. She'll see that they go to someone who will appreciate them. My beautiful glass objects I'm not so sure about. Neither my son or my dol see them as much more than something that needs to be dusted. I have a handful of significant pieces that I may offer to a gallery for sale. The rest I may ebay, if ebay still exists when the time comes. I have a lot...A LOT....of glass. Perhaps an auction would be in order.

Style Spy March 6, 2012

I don't collect. Truly. I have almost no tchotchkes, the handful of antique thingies are meaningful items from my grandparents' homes, I mostly get books on my Kindle now... I have an ongoing argument with a co-worker who does collect (toys, action figures, whatever) because he says my wardrobe - specifically my shoes - is a collection. I say it is not because I buy shoes & clothes not to have and catalog them, but to wear them. He says buying multiples of the same kind of thing is a collection, I think a collection is defined by its purpose or lack thereof. If you're buying something for the sole (or at least main) reason of having one more of them, it's collecting. If you're buying it to USE (because you know those shoes will look great with a number of outfits), it's not collecting. The closest thing I have to a collection is my perfumes, I reckon. I've only given a little though to what will happen to my stuff when I shuffle this mortal coil off to Buffalo. But I have a 5 year-old great-niece for whom I have great hopes - in many ways she is my mini-me, and I have already started training her to carry the torch. (I'm watching her feet with great interest, hoping they turn out to be the same size as mine.)

bookhouseshell March 6, 2012

My first and true love is my book collection. I've always been a voracious reader, and as a child never had access to "enough" to read. I read indiscriminately through my teenage years, until a friend who'd attended private school asked why I read so much trash. I tried reading some "classics" (Kafka's The Metamorphosis, seriously?) and was not impressed! I was definitely into the radical edge of 3rd wave feminism and stumbled onto The Color Purple, Toni Morrison & Rubyfruit Jungle. From there it was on! Throughout my 20's I combed used bookstores and picked up paperbacks of interesting fiction written by women, the more obscure and small press, the better. After about 5 years of collecting paperbacks and working at a used bookstore, I realized that first editions could retain their value much more than paperbacks, so made the switch. I now have a 2000+ collection of women's literature. Just looking at my wall o' books cheers me up. I really don't read my own books (unless desperate), I check them out from the library. Although I know what I wan't to happen to it when I die (donated to a TBD library or school), since I'm in my early forties, haven't done a will thing yet. The perfume is a much, much newer obsession...probably stems from the same impulse though. A unscented day without reading is pale and poor, indeed!

FragrantWitch March 6, 2012

Thought-provoking post, Musette. I'm only 37 but sadly people my age do shuffle off of this mortal coil. I would hate to leave my husband and daughters to weed through all of my stuff so I try to keep it organised. Perfumes (natch), books, vintage prints/cards with witch images, Christmas ornaments, some jewelry (mainly costume). My daughters are too young now to understand keeping some of these things in memorial so I have made it known to my husband, who is the least acquisitive person I have ever met, to hold on to the perfumes, ornaments and children's books until the girls are grown and could choose what wish to keep. Also, it would provide a mummy-zone for them to visit when they needed to. Oh, now I am going to cry writing this post! Moving on.... My mother is a huge pack rat- yarn, buttons, textiles, patterns, sewing machines, baubles and magazines to do with all of the former. And clothes. And foxes. It will be a massie job when it comes to clear her house. I already have instructions to take what I want and then, under penalty of a nagging haunting, to contact a few specialty shops and like- minded crafters to let them go through and the , only then, give it to a school or arts college. My husband, having seen my mother's proclivities is very quick to remind me to weed through and that there is an episode of Hoarders on- something which never fails to make me throw something away!

Milena March 6, 2012

I have perfumes and silver jewelry, that my two daughters may use. The other stuff like clothes, household thing, books, stuff we are no longer interested in or need, I clean/give away regularly. Once a year I go through my perfume collection and give some unwanted bottles to a coworker, who loves perfumes.

mals86 March 6, 2012

GREAT. Now I'm gonna have nightmares about sticking my kids with all my possessions... I come from a long line of packrats, so I guess I come by it honestly. But when my grandmother died five years ago, she left behind so many things that my mom's still decluttering the house. (This was the grandma who saved that 40-gallon crock of homemade lye soap, if you recall.) Eep. I have tons and tons of books which somehow I never think of as a collection because I read them. I did wind up with part of my grandmother's Depression glass collection - just the pink ones, the green ones went to my sister and the carnival glass went to my grandmother's friend - but my mom thought I was nuts to tell her I didn't want any more stuff. And I have a collection of Christmas nutcrackers, but ONLY the figurines themselves. No nutcracker bathmats/plates/trashcans/whatevs. I love scarves and handkerchiefs but don't "collect" them. My major collection guilt centers on that perfume cabinet. Just last week I went through and pulled out all the backup bottles I've determined I don't really need and all the bottles I don't LOVE and all the minis I wanted just to try stuff out - and I have either donated them to an online sale for charity* or listed them for sale in a group. Will probably also list them for sale on my blog beginning next week, and possibly on the scent splits wiki, and whatever doesn't find a new home within a month or so will head on to eBay, just to get them out of the house. *(If it's okay, here's a link to the online sale: As for what's still in my perfume cabinet when I leave the world behind - well, I have already left a note in it detailing how it could be disposed of, with intentions to change the instructions as needed. Right now it says something like, "If I suddenly get run over by [neighbor's] business truck, here's what to do with my perfume: first, family picks anything they want. Anything. Then these friends. Then go to my Facebook account and tell my perfume friends that my perfumes should go to good homes. Anything they don't want, please sell it on ebay. The complete list of what I have is in this document on my laptop in a file called "perfume list." So. I'm sleeping a little better these days. I figure the kids will split up the nutcrackers (I know they have favorites) and an antique dealer may want the Depression glass, and the rest can all go to Goodwill, as far as I'm concerned.

ElizabethW March 6, 2012

When a dear 80 year old friend of mine lost her husband two years ago, she had to confront the problem of what to do with "too much stuph", as she put it. I saw how burdened she was by the task of dispensing with the accumulated household and personal belongings of many decades of their life together and I decided then and there that I would not do that (to my husband, particularly, if I go first). Okay, I will only be 59 this year, but I had quite a close call, health wise, last year. So it is time to be practical and think about this a bit. I started a journal where I will note down my thoughts and wishes for when I am no longer able to communicate them, including what I'd like done with my belongings and collections. What do I collect? Vintage handkerchiefs; scarves, jewelry (mostly rhinestone); perfume; CDs; books (nothing valuable, I just like books); vinyl LPs. I will be thinning these out over the next few years. I have no children, and my nieces and nephews are unlikely to be interested in these things. So I will probably sell off and give away most of them. Hopefully, I won't start up any new collections, but you never know. :d Best of luck, Auntie Musette, with your work project!

Joanna March 6, 2012

I have amassed and then abandoned/sold off collections several times now due to cross country moves but the affinity I have for certain objects never goes away. Old vintage rolling pins and mixing bowls as well as vintage cook books. Yarn. Old bibles. Vintage buttons. Audubon prints. My oldest son and I started collecting nutcrackers when he was a little boy...children are always fascinated by them. We had over 100 and then our house flooded and we lost a lot of precious things, those nutcrackers and all my vintage Christmas ornaments included. Neither of us had the heart to start again but now my younger two have started asking for them each year and we have a small herd once more. Of course perfume. You can't take it with you. I don't worry about where it will go but I do want to keep from being like my mother-in-law who is an organized hoarder. I have a hard time letting go of people but not so much things. I guess I would hope each child or someday grandchild keeps the bottle(s) that remind them most of me.

Ann March 6, 2012

Very interesting and thought-provoking question, dear M. In addition to perfume, I have a collection of teapots (mostly place-themed, such as Notre Dame, Big Ben, etc.) to remind me of cities I've traveled to and loved, and also some china figurines courtesy of my wonderful mother-in-law who is now in a nursing home. I doubt my son will be much interested in my 'fume collection, and I suspect the rest of my family thinks I'm a few bricks shy of a load for having so much. Guess I'd better start using it up fast! In the best of all worlds, I would love to leave it to appreciative perfume pals though. And good luck on the big project -- fingers and toes crossed for you!

Mrs.Honey March 6, 2012

I suppose I collect cookbooks, although it is not a formal collection, only cookbooks in which I have an interest. Still, I have at least 50. I have less FB of perfumes than that. Regarding the perfume, I suspect I will be giving much of it up in later life, long before I shuff this mortal coil. I watched my grandmother move from her home (2 bedroom, 2 bath, living room, den 2 car garage, Florida room) to a continuing care community (1 bedroom, tiny balcony, living/living combination) to an assisted living facility (bed sit) to nursing, selling and leaving things along the way. Moreover, my mother lost her sense of smell in her 60s and while I do everything in my power to avoid that (allergy treatment, medical treatment when I am sick, no Zicam ever), I can't help wonder if that will happen to me. I would likely post on the boards of MUA or POL or the active community here or on Now Smell This to find good homes for my perfumes. If that failed, then maybe sell bottles via auction but I would rather give away. Still anything is better than throwing away.

Sherri M March 6, 2012

P.S. Also wanted to say, hope whatever you're up to is wildly successful!!

vinery March 6, 2012

Musette, you have asked a very interesting question, and one I have thought about more frequently as I watch my perfume collection grow year by year. None of my friends or family has so much as a passing interest in perfume, and they think I’m strange for having more than one or two bottles. The solution for me would be to earmark my collection for other perfumista(s), preferably in my country, who share the love of perfume and would appreciate and care for my collection after I am gone. While the online community is fun and supportive, the anonymity of the internet has prevented me from connecting with real people who could enjoy my collection. I am afraid the reality is that all will be chucked into the rubbish as part of a big clean out.

Sherri M March 6, 2012

I collect quite a lot. "Deliberate" collections are flow blue, majolica, R.S. Prussia....some of this stuff has been passed down to me... and of course perfume. Are my kids going to want all this stuff? As you say, Auntie Musette...prolly not... They can take what they want and ebay the rest. I'm making a list of who gets what jewelry so there are no fights, and also sentimental things llke furniture made by my grandfather and paintings done by their great-grandfather. My kids are still teens so I'm not even sure they recognize the value of those things yet. It does seem a shame the perfume will most likely not go to someone who will appreciate it (though I can picture my youngest going through it and taking all the gardenias before they put it on ebay), but that's life. I've gotten plenty of enjoyment for it in this life. I used to have my husband buy me pieces of jewelry I thought my girls would like someday, but my husband and the kids told me I need to get what I like and they'll just have to remember me as such.

Jillie March 6, 2012

Oh my goodness, I suspect we must be of a similar vintage and just lately I have been saying to my husband "when I go .....". I have been dropping broad hints that he must give certain bottles to my sister and friends, keep some for himself (to remember me by when he sniffs them - Eternity in particular, since he has always loved that one), and the rest he must sell on e-bay to recoup some of the money I apent (and maybe keep him nicely for a while as I have got a lot of good, rare stuff). Anything else doesn't really matter too much to me, not even my vast collection of plates and dishes. But what is important are our two kitties - but in this scenaria, he will still be around to look after them! Like Dinazad, I am trying to prune all my possessions because I don't want to leave too much work for anyone to do after I've flitted off, but I just have too much, and as fast as I clear out, I add to it. Must stop!

dinazad March 6, 2012

I don't collect, I swear. Things just lurk around the door and slip into my apartment when I'm not looking. Then they arrange themselves into groups and act as if they'd always been there. Honestly. Vintage milk jugs, for instance. Perfumes. Earrings and scarves. Books, CDs, DVDs. Vintage pictures of guardian angels (seriously, I'd like to meet one of the artists. Were they full of the spirit or was this just a job that brought them enough to buy paints for their "real art"? Who modelled for the angels?). Vintage cemetery art. Old needlebooks and pincushions. Uranium glass. "Hotel silver". None of these have anything to do with me. Cross my heart. They collected themselves. I hope whoever has to get rid of all this after my demise really enjoys him/herself! Although I AM trying to get rid of stuff. But then there are the things lurking around my door....