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Prized collections

Charlestown residents share unique items at Collector's Showcase

Created date

March 21st, 2018
Charlestown resident Dayle Dawes shared her collection of dollhouse miniatures at the community’s Collector’s Showcase.

Charlestown resident Dayle Dawes shared her collection at the Collector’s Showcase.

Although Emma Schramm no longer spends her days picking strawberries on her family farm, she does keep a collection of more than 750 picker’s checks— small metal tokens farm workers used to note the number of crops they picked, which were exchanged for payment—as mementos of life on the farm.

Emma recently shared her picker’s check collection, along with her collection of kaleidoscopes, at the Charlestown Annual Collector’s Showcase. The collectibles show, which Emma helped establish, offers residents and staff of the Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md., the opportunity to share their love of collecting with others.

“With 2,000 people living here at Charlestown, I knew there had to be someone besides me who collects stuff,” says Emma.

Now in its third year, the show featured elaborate collections of Japanese Kokeshi Dolls, hat and pin holders, dollhouse miniatures, thimbles, needle art, ornaments, and other unique items. Emma’s kaleidoscope collection offered guests an interactive experience.

“I have about 20 kaleidoscopes,” says Emma whose collection started with a kaleidoscope she gave to her mother 20 years ago. “They are all different. Some are made of wood and are really a piece of artwork in themselves without ever looking through them.”

It’s a small world

Dayle Dawes has been collecting dollhouse miniatures (tiny lifelike furniture and accessories) for the last 17 years.

“I really enjoyed doing the collectors show and talking with people,” says Dayle. “I think probably 90% of the people who stopped by my table said they had a dollhouse when they were a child.”

In order to see the details of her miniature collection, Dayle supplied a magnifying glass to showgoers.

“The pieces I collect are very small and intricate. I have tiny little salad bowls with salad in them, tea sets, and things like that,” says Dayle. “Basically, if you can buy it in real life, you can buy it in a miniature version.”

Many of Dayle’s pieces are handmade from a miniatures group she belonged to, others she acquired at miniature shows throughout the country.

“Before we moved to Charlestown, I had six fully furnished dollhouses on display in my home. Now I’m down to two ‘room boxes.’ Each display box is set up as an antique shop, which allows me to display a variety of different pieces together,” says Dayle.

Sentimental spoons

Community Resources Manager Mary Evans was one of five Charlestown employees who participated in the show. Evans displayed her collection of Welsh love spoons. The wooded spoons, whose origin date back to the seventeenth century, are hand-carved with symbols of love, including hearts, flowers, bells, and other designs.

“I have 13 spoons, some are more formal than others,” says Evans. “My husband Jeff is Welsh, and it is customary for Welshmen to give love spoons to their betrothed. I received my first spoon for my fifth wedding anniversary [wood anniversary]. Jeff has given me spoons for additional milestone anniversaries throughout our marriage. I also have several that belonged to my mother-in-law.”

Evans says although the collection is not valued at thousands of dollars, it’s worth a fortune to her.

“Each spoon was handpicked by Jeff for special anniversaries commemorating his lasting love, commitment, and our good fortune,” says Evans. “We have enjoyed many blessings throughout our 40-plus years of marriage, and the spoons are a symbol of that happiness and joy.“

The collections featured at this year’s showcase were incredible, but Evans says the stories behind them were even more impressive.

“With every collection, there were so many stories that spoke to the life experiences of each individual collector,” says Evans. “I was in awe of the vastness of the displays and the passion in each exhibitor as they told their stories. It was truly an exceptional learning experience.”