How do you pare down a collection?

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I'm floundering and I feel like I'm drowning in dollhouses and miniatures. Have any of you ever pared down a collection? I mean like made some really, really hard choices and seriously cut down the size of your collection? I feel overwhelmed and don't even know where to begin.

I'll explain how this came about. I had maybe 20 houses and roomboxes of my own. I just can't say no when a dollhouse needs rescuing! I don't build from scratch or even do kits (except the occasional addition for expansion), but I do love rehabbing and "saving" pre-loved houses.

My mother was in the hobby since the 70s so she had even more than I. She had complications from surgery over a year ago. Despite round-the-clock efforts by doctors and nurses, she didn't make it. I had to remove her from life support. Worst thing I've ever experienced.

I inherited her collection. Added to my own, well, oh lord, what do I do with it all? A few I can part with. She had all the Franklin Mint dollhouses. They're cute but not exactly rare, and no sentimental value so I don't mind letting those go.

Anything that's a kit still in a box, goodbye. Those are projects I don't need, and if she never put them together, no sentimental value there either.

i think I can let all the houses from kits go (the ones put together). Some are nice Hofco houses but, you know, not custom made or anything. I can part with those.

Some of hers, however, were custom made. The problem is they are gigantic. One is the size of a dining room table (a big one, with the expansion leaves in, lol!) and another the size of a full-sized bed. They're massive. I've thought of chaneling Marie Kondo: thank 'em for their service, take pictures for the memories, and let 'em go. I've actually stood before them and cried just thinking of that. My mother put her heart into these. Some are rare (an artist-created Tudor that was the grand prize from a N.A.M.E. show sometime in the 80s), and some of mine (like the Lawbres and the Jim Marcus), I just really love.

The furnishings and accessories, meh, I can keep the artist-created pieces and not shed a tear parting with Aztec, Town Square, or whatever. Printed rugs? So long, I'll keep the actual petit point ones. You get the idea.

I don't know, I just have some really hard choices to make. They're filling the basement (and it's a big basement!). They're filling two rented storage sheds (an expense I don't need). Boxes of minis are filling every available inch of closet space throughout the house. You can love miniatures and dollhouses more than anyone in the world, but you have to admit they can become a problem!

It makes me think of that old saying: "There's a fine line between 'Hobby' and 'Mental Illness'." That line is so far behind me I can't even see it any more, HAHA! (sigh) I guess I'm hoping that if someone out there has ever dealt with an issue like this, maybe they can tell me how to steel my resolve to move forward. I feel paralyzed by a tsunami of miniatures. :(

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I think you’ve got the right idea. And yep, I’d take pics of them and then wish them well on their way. There’s someone out there who will get all kinds of enjoyment from the things you don’t want, so be fearless and at peace with your choices. Decide what you love best and keep that.  

You've already figured out the easy first steps. The stuff you know you don’t want you can sell or gift away to other miniaturists. Some might be great donations for a shelter or a fund raiser item.

And yep, I’ve pared down more than once...first letting go of almost every 1:12 scale thing I had. Then letting go of 1:48 scale so that I could focus on 1:24 scale for the time being. Periodically I sell off a house or two as well, and I’ve purged kits and accessories several times. I'm actually currently in the process of purging and reorganizing my supplies.

I look at it as all part of the journey of minis. So I say, enjoy the ride! :D 

 

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Kelly do you have any miniature museums in your area? If so, would it be possible to donate some of the larger houses? That way they would be preserved and shared with others. You could go see them when you liked!

   Just a thought

Bill

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I just returned from KY two weeks ago and saw the KSB collection and the Great American Dollhouse Museum. Maybe one of those ladies could help you? You could always try ebay for purging the accessories. I'm always on the lookout for good stuff, but I limit my buying to a certain amount per month, and that's it.

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There's also the Trading Post here.

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I have a feeling from reading your first post . Ebay is the way to go fo a lot of items since you are keeping the artisan items.

I would also see if theres any Miniature flee markets near you and take all the stuff you just want to get rid of fast. I have two that I go to and dig through bins for Items for my donation houses . Make a plan is all I can say I would be very overwhelmed too. 

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Deep sympathies on both the loss of your mom and the difficulties of letting go of things that mean much to you.  You are not alone here!  Even as a relative newbie to miniatures, I know how easy it is to acquire stuff -- from finished pieces to kits to building materials and tools.

The earlier suggestions here are all great ones.  I was delighted recently to be able to give a still-in-the-box 1980s Duracraft house to one of the forum members here, so if you decided to go that route with some things, you know it's going to someone who appreciates it at least in a similar way that you do.  I have also been the recipient of many a generosity from members of my local NAME chapter.

Your Jim Marcus house that you posted about the other day is gorgeous!  You might try starting some albums here, separate ones for things you definitely want to keep and things you're not sure about -- maybe even one of things you know you aren't going to keep.  I have found that that kind of sorting (even if only "virtual"!) actually makes me realize which things are more important to me than others, especially when seeing how much is still going to be around!  And another person's admiration for something you aren't sure about might make it easier to let it go, especially if you know that it will give someone joy.

Best of luck!

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I'll be donating my overflow to my local NAME chapter - then they can sell it/use it for the good of all miniaturists. I'm a member, and I will probably mention it to my daughter so she knows what to do when she gets stuck with waaaaay too many miniatures (they bring me great joy, but I understand that is not the case for everyone).

I plan on making a list or a box of my favorites so she knows that to keep if she wants a more portable sentimental sampling of my colllection.

A TON of miniatures brings me great joy, Marie Kondo, thank you very much. But I know that is not the case for everyone.

Good luck with paring down!

 

 

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Thank you all for your thoughts. I know I need to get the items that are easy to part with on Ebay. We're leaving for Spain in a few days on a much needed vacation so maybe when we're back. I plan to sit on a Mallorcan beach and not give one thought to minis or dollhouses for two weeks! So if anyone posts after Tuesday and I don't reply, please know I'm not ignoring you.
 
I have given a few things away and that's made me pretty happy, I have to admit. I can tell you those stories if you want to hear something less depressing than having to take my mom off life support. They are rather joyous, IMO.
 
My mother was as much Best Friend as she was Mom. After I posted this topic, I was remembering all the moments Mom and I shared with this hobby and what it meant to both of us. I thought that, since you're all in the hobby too, I would share a few. You may identify with this. Sometimes a hobby is more than just "Aww, that's cute." It can have a great effect on lives.
 
I'd call her up and say that I'd just picked up a house at a yard sale or something, and she'd rush right over. "I have just the wallpaper for that kitchen," she'd say, or, "Those windows are all wrong for this style of house, let's see if they'll come out." Then, with no thought for her perfect make-up, her perfect hair, her perfect clothes, and her long red dragon-lady fingernails, she would get right into it.
 
By the time she left hours later, after staying for dinner and eating hunched over the finishing touches on a tiny parquet floor, she'd have three different colors of paint smeared on her face and wood stains on her fingertips. My mom was very Type A. I am decidedly NOT. We often didn't connect on many things, but with minis we did. I couldn't identify with her go-go-go, 12-hour workday running a company, or rushing off to this charitable board or that social function.
 
I don't remember those moments. She never once said anything about her balance sheets and income statements. Rather, she'd drag me to her hobby room the moment I arrived at her home to proudly show off an intricate piece of stained glass she'd created beneath a magnifying glass.
 
A week after returning from a minis show in Chicago or wherever, the boxes would begin arriving and she would call, "Come help me unpack and see what I got!" I'd walk in to find twenty boxes piled up in her living room. "I see you've lost the last of your marbles, Mom. What color were they, I'll help you look." With a dismissive wave of her hand, she replied, "Oh poo, you're as bad as I. Start over there."
 
Mom grew up in a family of, how do I put this, "good social standing"? She had many expectations thrust upon her shoulders. She rebelled by running off with a Bad Boy. A regular Rebel Without a Cause, motorcycle, leather jacket and all. Sometimes Bad Boys really are bad. Let's just say my father was not a nice man.
 
I came home from school one day to find my piano gone. It was my love, my most prized possession. Music was my life and now there was just a faded rectangle on the living room carpet to indicate where it had been. My father had traded it for a chrome job on his classic Harley. "IT WAS TAKING UP TOO MUCH SPACE! SHADDUP AND STOP YER BLUBBERIN'!!" *WHAP*
 
Years later, I was having a particularly bad time of it. My husband was in Iraq and things were just... bad. Christmas made things worse. Mom gave me a shoe-boxed sized present. I opened it to find she had commissioned Ralph Partelow to recreate my childhood piano from old photographs. As I teared up, she softly said, "I'm sorry I wasn't there." We both knew she meant more than just the piano.
 
Aaannnd there go my waterworks again. So now you can probably see what sort of emotional tussle I'm in. I hope you all have a spouse, child, or friend to share this hobby with. You never know what that can mean to others. I miss her so much.
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Wao Kelly, you were sooo fortunate having no less than your mother to share your passion for miniatures. You have plenty of items to keep your mother's memories alive for the rest of your own life. The trick is to choose wisely which mementos to keep. 

I am going trough some downsizing of my collection, and my plan was this: I started selling all the kits that I know I will never put together. Let someone else enjoy the task to build them or the happiness from the illusion to build them at some point. Along with the house kits, I started selling some of my finished houses, big and not so big. Next will be the extra furniture, then the dolls and accessories, and finally the extra building materials. 

I had lots of fun piling all my little things, but no matter how small they are,  before you know it your will be drowned in stuff! I LOVE all my mini things but I think if we start to fill overwhelmed it is probably time to let some of them go. I usually start offering my items here so the forum people can take advantage of getting them before I place them on Ebay or Craigslist. Good luck! and safe travels! Hopefully you will come back re-charged to tackle this huge task!:D

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While I'm thinking of it, here's an old pic of a big house I bought for Mom as a Mother's Day present more than ten years ago. Actually, I told her it covered all Mother's Days, past, present and future, haha. It's one of the houses that is causing me grief right now. It is far too big for me to consider keeping but oh my, it does mean something to me. A good indication of my dilemma.

The woman I bought it from (who may be on this forum!) delivered it to a friend in Arizona, who then later got it to me on a visit. This sent my mother over the moon. Probably the best gift I ever gave to her. This woman was selling off her own mother's collection after her mom passed away. I have been thinking of that often lately. Can I ever empathize with what she must have been going through. This is the one I said was the size of a dining room table, which is exactly what it's sitting on right now, lol.

Westover.jpg

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51 minutes ago, KellyA said:

While I'm thinking of it, here's an old pic of a big house I bought for Mom as a Mother's Day present more than ten years ago. Actually, I told her it covered all Mother's Days, past, present and future, haha. It's one of the houses that is causing me grief right now. It is far too big for me to consider keeping but oh my, it does mean something to me. A good indication of my dilemma.

The woman I bought it from (who may be on this forum!) delivered it to a friend in Arizona, who then later got it to me on a visit. This sent my mother over the moon. Probably the best gift I ever gave to her. This woman was selling off her own mother's collection after her mom passed away. I have been thinking of that often lately. Can I ever empathize with what she must have been going through. This is the one I said was the size of a dining room table, which is exactly what it's sitting on right now, lol.

Westover.jpg

That house is stunning! What part of the US do you live in? 

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What a beautiful house. I love the landscaped yard. Is that a little sheep at the end of the yard?

 

 

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So, Kelly.......... if any of your houses are seeking political asylum - there might be a way all of us can help out........? I'm aware that it is an involved process, but I'm willing to house a few....

Jokes aside. This might be a more unconventional suggestion, but: for the built houses - contact local charities that might plan fundraisers. It's kinda what I do with the houses I don't like much (you know the ones you buy because they are such a good deal you can't walk away from? The ones you look at later and think: Was I drunk when buying that one?)

I finish them as play houses and donate them - usually they involve food in fundraisers, so I get to eat for free and peddle the house as the one thing everybody needs. Because what is house without a dollhouse? Right? You could attach small plaques to the house with your mom's name as the donor. I think that would be a nice thought.

Charities usually do not get high ticket items that are unique. Place a dollhouse for $200 next to a generic giftbasket for the same price - it always comes out: Dollhouse: 1 - Giftbasket: 0. I have yet to see one of them go for less than 200. No furniture unless I got some that I want to get rid off as well. 

Just a thought.  

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It really is a lovely house. There is one way of narrowing it all down, probably especially useful for the houses. Compare every house with every house, one by one, and decide which one you would rather keep out of the two. So house A compared to house B, then house A compared to house C, then house A compared to house D and so on. Write every decision down. Then compare house B with house C, house B with house D and so on. Keep going. It might be slow but at the end, you can tally up how many times each house was the preferred house and you will then have an order of preference for all the houses.

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9 hours ago, shannonc60 said:

It really is a lovely house. There is one way of narrowing it all down, probably especially useful for the houses. Compare every house with every house, one by one, and decide which one you would rather keep out of the two. So house A compared to house B, then house A compared to house C, then house A compared to house D and so on. Write every decision down. Then compare house B with house C, house B with house D and so on. Keep going. It might be slow but at the end, you can tally up how many times each house was the preferred house and you will then have an order of preference for all the houses.

Shannon, this was soooo cool!. I just did this with my finished houses, and I finally have a clear picture of what I want to do! Thanks!

TIP: if you decide to give it a try, don't hesitate and pick your first choice right away, and pick ONE! no ties!

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No worries Carmen! Also good for career decisions! Haha! 

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Kelly so very sorry on the loss of your Mom....it's always a tough one.  I don't know how to help you other then pray for you and hope that Spain clears your head and lets you move forward with keeping only what means the most to you.  Have a wonderful time!

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I like the idea of picking one favorite that's a definite keeper and then ranking the rest. I think my problem is that I see them all as one big insurmountable obstacle. I imagine a ranking form like the one below might work. Of course, I bet many of you have the same problem I do: my favorite is whichever one happens to be in front of me at any given moment, lol.

Ranking Form.jpg

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Oh, so I wanted to put a happier spin on this post and tell you (briefly, if I can manage that!) some of the nicer moments of giving a few of these away.

The first was an electrician doing work at our home. He was marveling over a horrible townhouse I'd purchased solely for the contents. It was a narrow and tall old Walmer house, very badly done, but it was full of Clare-Bell light fixtures and a few excellent pieces of furniture. I'd raided it for all that I wanted. He had a two-year old daughter so I told him to take the house. It was perfect for a play toy, sturdily built and no windows or doors or shingles meant no bits and bobs for young throats to choke on. He was utterly thrilled and his wife called later just burbling over with excitement. That made my day. That and the fact he didn't charge me the next time he came over to put up a couple new ceiling fans, lol.

The second was the woman I bought the Rosedawn and Barstow Belle from. Poor gal, she'd paid retail from Lawbre for those and sold them to me for about 15% of what she'd paid for them. She was so crestfallen feeling like she'd given up on a hobby she loved. A few months later I'd finished up a Cape Cod style colonial dollhouse rescue. It was a scratch made piece that had been treated very badly as a child's toy. I saw this woman's collection of miniatures and oh boy did she have some stunning craftsman pieces. All of it worked better in a colonial than a plantation or Eastlake style house anyway. She'd put it all into a large china cabinet and given up the idea of having a house for them. I took the colonial to her and she was positively gleeful. While I didn't ask for anything in return, she did give me a Clare-Bell canopy bed and another four-poster dressed by Laura Scuderi, so win-win!

The third was someone called me to ask if I had any cheap dollhouses I wanted to part with. Her son is studying to be an interior designer and he wanted to give his ideas a try in miniature. He's a struggling student with very little money so I gave him an old Duracraft Bellingham. It was decent enough on the outside but the interior was a bare wood blank slate, perfect for his needs. He was thrilled, and I was happy to have helped a student working hard to learn a field he loved.

Finally, when we were emptying out Mom's house, I'd noticed a little girl watching from an upstairs window next door. She ran over when we were carrying out one of Mom's dollhouses, a Hofco Victorian that was just a bit too pink for my taste. Looking rather terrified, she asked if we were going to throw it away. Her mom came over to apologize for her daughter interrupting and explained that my mother would let her daughter come over to play with some of her dollhouses. I assumed this house in particular, since it's the one that drew her out of her bedroom. So we carried it next door and up to her bedroom. I don't think I've ever seen a little girl dance and clap about her bedroom with such gusto!

So I guess it hasn't been all bad. But so much for brevity. Obviously not one of my strong points.

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42 minutes ago, KellyA said:

Oh, so I wanted to put a happier spin on this post and tell you (briefly, if I can manage that!) some of the nicer moments of giving a few of these away.

These put a big smile on my face!

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You are so fortunate to find these opportunities to rehome your dollhouses.  I'm in the process of trying to downsize my collection and have sold off a lot of the extra furniture items but when it comes to actual houses, it gets a lot harder to place them.  Sadly, I think this hobby is in a decline right now.  I recently approached a local dealer and she said, "Oh, honey, no one is buying houses now.  They all want room-boxes."   And I guess little girls are more into smart phones or Barbie's!  Well, in other threads on this site, I've mentioned the two houses that I'd like to move on...a completely finished and electrified McKinley and a Loren Korff half-scale farmhouse.   I suppose I might eventually donate them to a charity auction as an option. 

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Kelly A I love your stories about gifting your moms house. So sweet. I try to donate a house every year since I started 3 years ago I have donated 2 and my 3rd one goes in August. Every time I donate it is in remembrance of my mother as I know she would be so happy to have been able to do that herself.

 

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On 5/20/2019, 4:54:21, Felthen said:

What a beautiful house. I love the landscaped yard. Is that a little sheep at the end of the yard?

 

 

I don't know how I missed this before I left for vacation. That's a dog next to a little dog house. :)

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