Unopened Coca-Cola Bottles
If you’re thirsting for a refreshing bottle of cola, don’t bother asking John Burley, who holds the world record for the largest collection of unopened Coca-Cola bottles. His collection (and his fascination with the company's branding) started in the 1950s, and now includes more than 600 bottles of the fizzy beverage. His holdings include rare bottles commemorating Star Wars, the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and other significant world events. And, while soda normally doesn’t cost much, Burley’s collection is estimated to be worth more than $15,600.
Next time you're searching for a pencil to scribble a note, think of Tushar Lakhanpal, who is never at a loss for writing utensils—he owns almost 20,000. His collection includes much more than the familiar No. 2: He holds in his possession a pencil plated in 22-karat gold, one used by Queen Elizabeth II, and another that is more than eight feet long. Lakhanpal hopes one day to open a pencil museum to share his impressive collection with the public.
Banana Sticker Collection
You’re familiar with stamp and sticker collectors, but did you know there is a market for a different type of adhesive label? Banana labels, those small tags stuck to that bunch of yellow fruit you pick up from the grocery store, have a dedicated fan base. Christopher Crawcour of Great Britain owns a collection of more than 30,000 banana labels, and Becky Martz maintains an online portfolio of her unlikely treasures. If you happen to find a Chiquita sticker from the 1960s, hold on tight to it: It's said to be the rarest banana label out there.
Star Wars Lego Collection
Everyone knows that original Star Wars memorabilia is in big demand with superfans, but not everyone realizes that some collectors specialize solely in Lego brand Star Wars toys. Jon Jessesen is one such fan and the proud owner of 272 unopened Star Wars Lego sets. According to Jessesen, “Collecting Lego 'Star Wars' is for me using the force to bring two wonderful worlds together with a passion for both the films and the innovation of the Lego product.” His collection has grown so large, he plans to renovate his house to make room for it—and he's considering expanding his collection to include other movie-themed Lego sets, such as The Hobbit.
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Here's a household where celebrations could get a bit loud: Danny Fleming holds the title for owning the largest collection of bagpipes. He began collecting the musical instruments as a 10-year-old when he was taking lessons, and he's now amassed 105 sets. Luckily for his family’s eardrums, he belongs to a pipers' group where he can play—elsewhere—with like-minded musicians.
TV- and Movie-Related Board Games
Some people collect memorabilia from their favorite shows and others collect antique games, but famed director Quentin Tarantino does both at the same time by collecting board games tied to TV and movies. There’s no word yet on how many games he owns, but we suspect he knows the right people to help expand his holdings.
Celebrity Hair Collection
Seeking out celebrity hair to display in one's home sounds a mite stalker-ish, but don’t worry—John Reznikoff, the Guinness World Record holder for the biggest and most valuable collection of celebrity hair, isn’t ambushing red carpets to pluck strands out of famous people's heads. Through auctions, Reznikoff has accumulated locks from the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Beethoven, to name just a few. According to Reznikoff, during the Victorian era collecting strands of hair was sort of like snagging an autograph today. While he admits his hobby is a bit creepy, he doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Sugar Packet Collection
Available on diner tables (and grocery store shelves) around the world, sugar packets don’t seem very special—or rare—but a large community of collectors considers them coveted items. In fact, the global hobby of collecting sugar and sweetener packets is so common it even has a name—sucrology. Ralf Schröder is currently the world-record holder with 14,502 different packets. While sugar lasts a good long while, we don’t recommend tasting Schröder’s oldest packet—it dates back to the 1950s.
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Traffic Cone Collection
David Morgan acquired his first traffic cones when a rival plastic manufacturing company sued his company over the design of a cone. He hunted down cones to prove that his design already existed, and he won. But even after the case was closed, he couldn’t stop collecting those tantalizing orange cones. Fascinated by the varied designs, he has continued snagging versions of all shapes, sizes, and colors from all over the world. He has around 500, but is still looking for an elusive five-sided cone.
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Coffee Cup Lid Collection
Where most people see a piece of plastic that allows them to drink coffee on the go, Louise Harpman and Scott Specht see a representation of a cultural shift in America. Harpman and Specht, partners in their own architectural firm, also share ownership of the world's largest collection of plastic coffee lids. While they don’t consider themselves to be obsessive collectors, they do acknowledge their fascination with coffee lid design. They have picked up more than 550 different lids while grabbing a cup of joe, and they store their collection in a special container under Harpman’s bed.
What started as a joke with a friend has swelled into a massive burger-themed collection. Harry Sperl, aka Hamburger Harry, owns more than 3,000 pieces of hamburger memorabilia. The collection includes small items like ceramic burger salt-and-pepper shakers to a massive hamburger-themed waterbed. Sperl started collecting in the 1980s, and since the advent of eBay it's been easier than ever for him to feed his addiction. While he still enjoys a good hamburger, he has had to cut back on consumption for health reasons.
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Toy Soldier Collection
Jonathan Waters owns 1,020 toy soldiers, and not one is the same. He started collecting the little figures when he was 5 years old and has continued into adulthood. These days, he takes his wife with him as they travel the world in search of new models. His collection of soldiers represents different periods of American and world history, and includes figurines depicting the Roman Empire and medieval times.
Back Scratcher Collection
Manfred S. Rothstein never has a problem dealing with an itchy back—he owns around 675 back scratchers. The Guinness Book of World Record holder has acquired a collection of the long sticks from 71 countries. Kept safe and sound at his dermatology clinic, they’re always in easy reach if he ever has an itch.
Pizza Box Collection
Brooklyn apartments are known for their modest size, but square footage hasn't stopped Scott Wiener from amassing a wealth of pizza boxes. He has more than 600 unique boxes neatly broken down and stacked inside his small apartment. His collection comes from 42 different countries, a feat he has managed with the help of fans who send boxes from their favorite pizzerias. The pizza aficionado has written a book about pizza box design and runs his own company that leads interested visitors on tours of pizza-related points of interest around New York City.
Doesn’t it always seems like you lose a tube of Chapstick soon after buying it? Well, Megan Baker apparently doesn’t have that problem—she has a collection of 1,061 lip balms. Her collection comes from around the world, and each tube is different. Unlike a lot of collectors who choose not to use or open their collectibles, Baker tests each lip balm she acquires.
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wikimedia.org via Jorge Barrios Riquelme
Have you ever grabbed a few extra napkins on your way out of a restaurant? Antonia Kozakova certainly has—and she's collected almost 80,000 of them. The world-record holder has been collecting napkins for 16 years with the assistance of friends, family, neighbors, and even her mail carrier. The napkins vary in size, shape, and design—and some even have autographs. Her dream goals? To amass 100,000 napkins, and to get a napkin with her face on it!
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