November 2, 2023 | Sammy Tran

Embracing the Eccentric: The Strangest Items That People Collect

Strange and Unusual Things People Collect

Cutting nails and creeped out woman split image

Collecting is a hobby that can border on the obsessive, a fascinating insight into the human psyche. While stamps, coins, and comics are par for the course, some individuals turn their attention to far more peculiar pastimes. 

From the macabre to the downright bizarre, let’s uncover some of the most unusual collections that people have curated, showcasing the extraordinary lengths to which human curiosity can stretch.

Airline Sick Bags

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Believe it or not, there are individuals who collect those little bags tucked into the back of airplane seats. With thousands of different designs and airline logos, these bags can chart the history of airline branding and design. 

According to the "Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum," there are collectors with over 6,000 unique bags.

Vintage Dental Equipment

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Dental phobia is real, but for some, old dental apparatuses are treasures worth keeping. From ancient tooth extractors to early 20th-century electric dental drills, these collections can be a bit unsettling, yet they represent a historical journey through the evolution of dentistry.

Prison Artifacts

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There's a niche group fascinated by the darker side of history, collecting items from prisons – old keys, shackles, and even prisoner-made objects. These items often have a unique and somber story behind them, detailing the ingenuity and resourcefulness of inmates.

Toenail Clippings

Women clipping toe nails.B. Iva's photography, Shutterstock

As strange as it sounds, there are those who collect toenail clippings. One such collector boasts clippings from celebrities and historical figures, claiming that they hold the DNA and essence of these personalities. 

There are no statistics on how many share this hobby, likely due to its highly personal and unusual nature.

Banana Labels

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Fruit stickers might seem like trash to most, but to some, they're collectible art. Banana labels, in particular, have a cult following, with collectors trading and exhibiting their finds. It's estimated that there are over 20,000 different banana labels currently cataloged by collectors worldwide.

Historical Hair Samples

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Collecting hair from historical figures is a Victorian-era hobby that's still practiced today. From Beethoven's locks to Abraham Lincoln's fallen follicles, these collections are often highly valuable and can fetch thousands at auctions due to their connection to the historical figures.

Mob Memorabilia

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The fascination with the underworld has led to a niche in collecting mob-related items. From old speakeasy tokens to items that once belonged to notorious gangsters, this collection provides a tangible connection to the enigmatic world of organized crime.

Antique Medical Devices

Antique medical equipmentPMRMaeyaert, Wikimedia Commons

The haunting appeal of old medical instruments draws a certain crowd. These collections often include items like phrenology heads, antiquated surgical tools, and quack medicine devices, serving as a reminder of how far medical science has come.

Vintage Funeral Paraphernalia

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From mourning jewelry made with the hair of the deceased to post-mortem photography, some collect artifacts associated with death and funerals. 

These collections are not only unusual but also provide a glimpse into the customs of death and grieving through the ages.

Puzzling Puzzles

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Puzzle collecting may not sound strange, but when you consider individuals who collect puzzles with missing pieces, it becomes a curious endeavor. 

Collectors claim these incomplete puzzles tell a story, representing the mystery and unpredictability of life itself.

Final Thoughts

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Whether driven by nostalgia, fascination, or the thrill of the hunt, collectors of unusual items remind us that beauty and interest can be found in the most unexpected places. 

Their collections are testaments to human diversity and the myriad ways we seek to understand and interpret the world around us.


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