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A Collection of Collectors

  • Gary Neil, 63, of Quechee, Vt., plays in his office with a pair of Space Patrol binoculars he found at a thrift store the week before. Neil began scouring flea markets and thrift stores in the 70's, and was drawn to finding as many different toys as he could. In 1999, he shared most of this collection with the public by creating the free-admission Vermont Toy Museum inside the Quechee Gorge Village, which he owns. With the help of visitor feedback, Neil is constantly adding to the collection, which gives him an excuse to continue to go thrifting for toys.  "You never know what you might find, the next time you go out looking. It's kind of like treasure hunting, searching like you might find something, a discovery, the holy grail of toys," Neil said<br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Gary Neil, 63, of Quechee, Vt., plays in his office with a pair of Space Patrol binoculars he found at a thrift store the week before. Neil began scouring flea markets and thrift stores in the 70's, and was drawn to finding as many different toys as he could. In 1999, he shared most of this collection with the public by creating the free-admission Vermont Toy Museum inside the Quechee Gorge Village, which he owns. With the help of visitor feedback, Neil is constantly adding to the collection, which gives him an excuse to continue to go thrifting for toys. "You never know what you might find, the next time you go out looking. It's kind of like treasure hunting, searching like you might find something, a discovery, the holy grail of toys," Neil said
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kristin Haney, 46 of Windsor, Vt, poses with a part of her growing Wizard of Oz collection, in the kitchen of the Upper Valley Senior Center, where she works. Haney has been collecting for about a decade, encouraged by her love of the movie, "It's just the greatest movie," she said, "how could anyone not like it?" (Valley News- Sarah Priestap)

    Kristin Haney, 46 of Windsor, Vt, poses with a part of her growing Wizard of Oz collection, in the kitchen of the Upper Valley Senior Center, where she works. Haney has been collecting for about a decade, encouraged by her love of the movie, "It's just the greatest movie," she said, "how could anyone not like it?" (Valley News- Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • John Greenall, 66, of West Windsor, Vt, gazes at a unique carriage, called a "Cocking Cart," originally used for transporting passengers and roosters to cock fights. This, and over 30 carriages and sleighs, are displayed in a barn on his property. Greenall began collecting carriages at age 15, when he took over his father's small collection and began using them with his driving horses. Citing his interest in history, preservation, traditions, and horses as the driving force behind his 50 year span of collecting, driving, and selling carts. "When a vehicle is restored it is being saved hopefully to future generations to enjoy," Greenall said. Greenall has used almost every carriage and sleigh in his collection, and many have appeared in movies.  <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    John Greenall, 66, of West Windsor, Vt, gazes at a unique carriage, called a "Cocking Cart," originally used for transporting passengers and roosters to cock fights. This, and over 30 carriages and sleighs, are displayed in a barn on his property. Greenall began collecting carriages at age 15, when he took over his father's small collection and began using them with his driving horses. Citing his interest in history, preservation, traditions, and horses as the driving force behind his 50 year span of collecting, driving, and selling carts. "When a vehicle is restored it is being saved hopefully to future generations to enjoy," Greenall said. Greenall has used almost every carriage and sleigh in his collection, and many have appeared in movies.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nicholas Jasmin, 8, of White River Junction, Vt, with a part of his Lego collection, which he has been collecting, building and playing with for three years. Jasmin especially enjoys the Star Wars themed legos, and the hundreds of tiny Lego people, or minifigures that he has neatly stored in boxes. "I think my favorite thing about collecting Legos are the characters, and the different worlds that you can explore with them," Jasmin said. (Valley News- Sarah Priestap)

    Nicholas Jasmin, 8, of White River Junction, Vt, with a part of his Lego collection, which he has been collecting, building and playing with for three years. Jasmin especially enjoys the Star Wars themed legos, and the hundreds of tiny Lego people, or minifigures that he has neatly stored in boxes. "I think my favorite thing about collecting Legos are the characters, and the different worlds that you can explore with them," Jasmin said. (Valley News- Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Harry Jorgensen, 86, of Woodstock, Vt, started collecting stamps at age 7 and has spent the majority of his life collecting and dealing in stamps from around the world. Now in his eighties, he continues with his hobby and business, working almost eight hours a day organizing stamps, meeting with customers, and appraising stamps. "Stamps are a piece of history," he said. "They show us what people were interested in at the time." Jorgensen is also active in the Upper Valley Stamp Club, which meets monthly at the Quechee Library. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Harry Jorgensen, 86, of Woodstock, Vt, started collecting stamps at age 7 and has spent the majority of his life collecting and dealing in stamps from around the world. Now in his eighties, he continues with his hobby and business, working almost eight hours a day organizing stamps, meeting with customers, and appraising stamps. "Stamps are a piece of history," he said. "They show us what people were interested in at the time." Jorgensen is also active in the Upper Valley Stamp Club, which meets monthly at the Quechee Library. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Kelley, 51 of Plainfield, N.H, stands with a small collection of his massive Star Trek collection at the Upper Valley Senior Center. "There's always something we like as kids, it's what you're around, what's popular when you're growing up," Kelley said.  Star Trek was what appealed to me - It wasn't just goofy sound effects, it was well done." Kelley started collecting when he was 8, and saved his money each year to buy anything Star Trek-related at the mall in Maine each summer. Now, he enjoys talking with fellow collectors about the time before much Star Trek memorabilia was available. "It was neat when you look back at growing up in that era, and Star Trek was so hard to find," Kelley said, "My mom would make me costumes that were on the show, I couldn't just go out and buy one. Now, the world is just a mouse click away." (Valley News- Sarah Priestap)

    Steve Kelley, 51 of Plainfield, N.H, stands with a small collection of his massive Star Trek collection at the Upper Valley Senior Center. "There's always something we like as kids, it's what you're around, what's popular when you're growing up," Kelley said. Star Trek was what appealed to me - It wasn't just goofy sound effects, it was well done." Kelley started collecting when he was 8, and saved his money each year to buy anything Star Trek-related at the mall in Maine each summer. Now, he enjoys talking with fellow collectors about the time before much Star Trek memorabilia was available. "It was neat when you look back at growing up in that era, and Star Trek was so hard to find," Kelley said, "My mom would make me costumes that were on the show, I couldn't just go out and buy one. Now, the world is just a mouse click away." (Valley News- Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Triston Irish, 12, of Bethel, Vt, plays with his relatively new collection of 1980's LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars using a ring that he made from wood and cotton cord. "This February, I think, my dad bought me two of these from a sale in Barre, Vt.,, because he thought I'd like them, and he was right, I think they're awesome, they're just so fun, and they're solid rubber" said Irish, who now scours Ebay and flea markets to find more of the wrestlers. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Triston Irish, 12, of Bethel, Vt, plays with his relatively new collection of 1980's LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars using a ring that he made from wood and cotton cord. "This February, I think, my dad bought me two of these from a sale in Barre, Vt.,, because he thought I'd like them, and he was right, I think they're awesome, they're just so fun, and they're solid rubber" said Irish, who now scours Ebay and flea markets to find more of the wrestlers. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Matching silverware from a coach belonging to painter Mary Cassatt's family is displayed on the back of the coach in John Greenall's barn in West Windsor, Vt. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Matching silverware from a coach belonging to painter Mary Cassatt's family is displayed on the back of the coach in John Greenall's barn in West Windsor, Vt. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • An array of lunchboxes on display from Gary Neil's collection at the Vermont Toy Museum in Quechee, Vt., on April 7, 2014. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    An array of lunchboxes on display from Gary Neil's collection at the Vermont Toy Museum in Quechee, Vt., on April 7, 2014. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • A stamp from Harry Jorgensen's collection is neatly organized in a folder at his home in Woodstock, Vt., on April 2, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    A stamp from Harry Jorgensen's collection is neatly organized in a folder at his home in Woodstock, Vt., on April 2, 2014.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • A model of the U.S.S. Enterprise is one of thousands of items from Steve Kelley's collection. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    A model of the U.S.S. Enterprise is one of thousands of items from Steve Kelley's collection. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • A rare, signed photograph of the Wizard of Oz is a favorite item in Kristin Haney's Wizard of Oz collection. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    A rare, signed photograph of the Wizard of Oz is a favorite item in Kristin Haney's Wizard of Oz collection.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Gary Neil, 63, of Quechee, Vt., plays in his office with a pair of Space Patrol binoculars he found at a thrift store the week before. Neil began scouring flea markets and thrift stores in the 70's, and was drawn to finding as many different toys as he could. In 1999, he shared most of this collection with the public by creating the free-admission Vermont Toy Museum inside the Quechee Gorge Village, which he owns. With the help of visitor feedback, Neil is constantly adding to the collection, which gives him an excuse to continue to go thrifting for toys.  "You never know what you might find, the next time you go out looking. It's kind of like treasure hunting, searching like you might find something, a discovery, the holy grail of toys," Neil said<br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Kristin Haney, 46 of Windsor, Vt, poses with a part of her growing Wizard of Oz collection, in the kitchen of the Upper Valley Senior Center, where she works. Haney has been collecting for about a decade, encouraged by her love of the movie, "It's just the greatest movie," she said, "how could anyone not like it?" (Valley News- Sarah Priestap)
  • John Greenall, 66, of West Windsor, Vt, gazes at a unique carriage, called a "Cocking Cart," originally used for transporting passengers and roosters to cock fights. This, and over 30 carriages and sleighs, are displayed in a barn on his property. Greenall began collecting carriages at age 15, when he took over his father's small collection and began using them with his driving horses. Citing his interest in history, preservation, traditions, and horses as the driving force behind his 50 year span of collecting, driving, and selling carts. "When a vehicle is restored it is being saved hopefully to future generations to enjoy," Greenall said. Greenall has used almost every carriage and sleigh in his collection, and many have appeared in movies.  <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Nicholas Jasmin, 8, of White River Junction, Vt, with a part of his Lego collection, which he has been collecting, building and playing with for three years. Jasmin especially enjoys the Star Wars themed legos, and the hundreds of tiny Lego people, or minifigures that he has neatly stored in boxes. "I think my favorite thing about collecting Legos are the characters, and the different worlds that you can explore with them," Jasmin said. (Valley News- Sarah Priestap)
  • Harry Jorgensen, 86, of Woodstock, Vt, started collecting stamps at age 7 and has spent the majority of his life collecting and dealing in stamps from around the world. Now in his eighties, he continues with his hobby and business, working almost eight hours a day organizing stamps, meeting with customers, and appraising stamps. "Stamps are a piece of history," he said. "They show us what people were interested in at the time." Jorgensen is also active in the Upper Valley Stamp Club, which meets monthly at the Quechee Library. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Steve Kelley, 51 of Plainfield, N.H, stands with a small collection of his massive Star Trek collection at the Upper Valley Senior Center. "There's always something we like as kids, it's what you're around, what's popular when you're growing up," Kelley said.  Star Trek was what appealed to me - It wasn't just goofy sound effects, it was well done." Kelley started collecting when he was 8, and saved his money each year to buy anything Star Trek-related at the mall in Maine each summer. Now, he enjoys talking with fellow collectors about the time before much Star Trek memorabilia was available. "It was neat when you look back at growing up in that era, and Star Trek was so hard to find," Kelley said, "My mom would make me costumes that were on the show, I couldn't just go out and buy one. Now, the world is just a mouse click away." (Valley News- Sarah Priestap)
  • Triston Irish, 12, of Bethel, Vt, plays with his relatively new collection of 1980's LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars using a ring that he made from wood and cotton cord. "This February, I think, my dad bought me two of these from a sale in Barre, Vt.,, because he thought I'd like them, and he was right, I think they're awesome, they're just so fun, and they're solid rubber" said Irish, who now scours Ebay and flea markets to find more of the wrestlers. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Matching silverware from a coach belonging to painter Mary Cassatt's family is displayed on the back of the coach in John Greenall's barn in West Windsor, Vt. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • An array of lunchboxes on display from Gary Neil's collection at the Vermont Toy Museum in Quechee, Vt., on April 7, 2014. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • A stamp from Harry Jorgensen's collection is neatly organized in a folder at his home in Woodstock, Vt., on April 2, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • A model of the U.S.S. Enterprise is one of thousands of items from Steve Kelley's collection. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • A rare, signed photograph of the Wizard of Oz is a favorite item in Kristin Haney's Wizard of Oz collection. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

While the urge to amass Star Trek memorabilia may be a recent phenomenon, collecting is an instinctual, age-old drive, seen in both humans and animals. Throughout human history, the need to store away the valuable, to create order out of chaos, has evolved from a survival mechanism to a means of enjoyment. From books to figurines to shoes, most of us have some kind of collection, regardless of the scale, to which we continue to add.

While photographing collectors in the Upper Valley, I’ve found that, regardless or the person’s age or the object collected, the hobby has become a way to meet and connect with others, whether fellow collectors or just interested members of the public.

For Gary Neil, of Quechee, who opened the free-admission Vermont Toy Museum in the Quechee Gorge Village in 1999 to showcase his own extensive collection, collecting toys became a way of connecting people with their childhood memories. Neil has arranged toys according to the decade they were produced, allowing visitors to find the dolls and games they remember fondly from their childhood.

In the same way, Harry Jorgensen of Woodstock, a longtime stamp dealer and collector, helped start the Upper Valley Stamp Club. Today, he and about two dozen other members meet at the Quechee Public Library every month to talk and trade stamps.

While each collection is different from the last, I was impressed at how eager each person was to share — not only information about the items themselves, but the knowledge and stories they’ve collected along the way, as well.

— Sarah Priestap