Gotta Catch ‘Em All: Crazy Collectors


A tegestologist loves collecting beer mats. Add labeorphilist if the person also collects the bottles (and labels) that sit on the beer mats. Who knew a college partier’s pastime could have such erudite names? If you’re one of these collectors, walls and kitchen cabinets shouldn’t be places to display your mats, labels, or bottles…unless you’re 21, in a frat, and want to come across as an alcoholic. So never.


Pannapictagraphist is the term to use when saying “comic book collector” sends eyes rolling. Pannapictagraphy relates to the equally pretentious-sounding panelology, the collecting of comic books as artworks. These terms likely relate to the frames or panels of pictures and writing characteristic of the comic book genre.


From American Girl to Chuckie, a plangonologist has a wide spectrum of dolls to collect. Probably the most loved and hated dolls by women everywhere, Barbies, are popular and sometimes shockingly valuable collectibles. The most expensive Barbie ever sold in 2010 for over $300,000. Her designer diamond necklace helped jack the price.


Arenophiles are the world’s most curious beach bums, traveling from one stretch of coastline to the next collecting sand. Sands are not all alike, as any arenophile who’s barefooted Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn and Coquina Beach in Anna Maria Island, Florida will tell you. But the variety of colors, textures, and mineral compositions is what sand collectors love. There are even rare green, red, pink, and black sand beaches in places like Brazil, Guam, Hawai’i, and Iceland. If collecting sand means traveling to these beautiful locales, we’ll gladly become arenophiles.


Lotologists probably wish they collected millions of dollars in sweepstakes prizes rather than the lottery tickets they stockpile instead. The hobby of collecting lottery tickets involves determining which kind of tickets you want to collect: “scratched” lottery tickets are the most sought after and traded. Then there’s “sample-void” tickets used for promotions, and “mint” tickets that are perfectly unscratched.


Say “cheese,” tyrosemiophiles! These folks are avid fans of the humble cheese label. The labels come in all colors of the rainbow and feature illustrations of happy cows, goats, creepy pilgrims, and weirdly, naked babies with flowers. Didn’t think that was coming, did you? Just think of what other cheesy labels are out there, waiting to be surgically removed and inserted between acetate sheets!


Sounds a little raunchy! The only thing a philatelist might lick is a stamp. But unlicked stamps probably bring more value. Unless the stamp-licker was famous. Anyway… This first word is an example of how most fancy collector-terms come from Greek. Here, phil- means “loving” (you’ll see variations of this a lot) and atelia means “exemption from taxes.” This second part suggests that, with a postage stamp, the receiver doesn’t have to pay anything to receive what’s been sent (it used be the other way around before stamps were invented).


Does the word lumen illuminate anything for you? Phillumenists are people who love and collect matchboxes. Fire takes a back seat as the boxes, printed covers, holders, and match strikers draw phillumenists in. There are even societies dedicated to phillumeny and the match industry. One society’s homepage stresses that the friction match was invented in “1826, not 1827!” Historical accuracy is crucial, even for phillumenists—don’t mess with matches…or matchboxes!


For sucrologists, the restaurant sugar packets wedged in the shadows of booths and tables gleam with the sparkle of collectability. How does a sucrologist open a sugar packet? Carefully! It requires a steady hand and a sharp scalpel, because some sugary surgery is called for to remove the crystals. Using the scalpel (not scissors!), make a fine incision in the top of the packet, as close to the crinkled edge as possible. Don’t wrinkle the paper! Don’t fold the edges! Shake the sugar out and prepare for mounting.


Dipterist is the only term in this list related to insects. We could do a whole show on “what people who collect different bugs are called,” because, for whatever reason, insects are hot commodities for some people. From the Greek word dipteros, meaning “two winged,” a dipterist collects flies. There are about 125,000 species of fly or fly-like winged things belonging to “the order of Diptera,” which sounds like something from Game of Thrones. Yes, flies are insidious contaminators of picnic food—they puke when they land!—but dipterists remind us that every creature deserves some love, including flies.


An arctophile collects fuzzy cuddly-wuddly stuffed things resembling bears. Arctos means “bear” and phile is “lover of.” Basically, a lover of teddy bears. For some people, the teddy bear loses both appeal and fur and is left forgotten in the attic. But for others, one fuzzy cub isn’t enough. If you’re still buying teddy bears in adulthood and have a room dedicated to them, you’re definitely an arctophile.


Old-school travelers, or friends of travelers, might also be deltiologists. These people love to collect postcards. From the Greek deltion, meaning “little writing tablets,” postcards used to be the way to stay in touch, while keeping messages brief. The equivalent of adding a caption to a shared digital photo today. Now Victorian postcard albums are a relic of the past, but deltiologists still see their value. Postcards are an example of ephemera, of things designed to be useful for a short time. Collecting antique postcards in good condition can be a lucrative hobby with the added bonus of preserving beautiful memories.

Collectors Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Whether it’s belly button fuzz, Pez dispensers, or Venetian glass, it’s clear collecting things for fun is all over the map.

Collecting things is—sometimes literally!—an extension of human identity, and a quest for the rare…or exceedingly offbeat. Have these crazy collectors inspired you? Or terrified you…?

Click to read more
Word of the Day

Can you guess the definition?


[ in-ter-lok-yuh-ter ]

Can you guess the definition?

Word of the day

[ in-ter-lok-yuh-ter ]

Redefine your inbox with!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.