Friday, March 24, 2017

Look Ma! No Cavities!

"Collecting is the sort of thing that creeps up on you."
~ Paul Mellon

Other photos of other framed tubes from before the newest additions, here. The lighting is even worse!

I don't consider myself a collector. I think that some of the people closest to me do consider me a collector and maybe they're right. They probably think of my theme-specific holiday decorations or my costume box (es) as collections, but I don't really. I think of a collection as something that is it's own end. Matchbooks just to have a bunch of match books. Or stamps or souvenir shot glasses or stuffed toys or whatever. You like or love a particular type of thing and you accumulate them just to have them. I think all my decorations or costumes are for a purpose other than just to have... they are for making my house or person look a certain way at a certain time.

Alphabet books: Art, educational, humor, foreign.

Here are the two things I believe are those that I collect: foreign toothpaste and alphabet books. I have a lot more tubes of foreign toothpaste than I do alphabet books and the reasons why are the same reasons why I collect them in the first place.

This is the second tube I ever bought. The paste was pink, the tube is metal, and that metal tube has failed and it letting some of what was left of the paste ooze out. For some reason, I like it even more that it's falling apart! If you look closely at the center left frame in the top photo, you can see where the cap and the threaded part of the tube under it has broken off and fallen onto the tube beneath it. I just love it!

First, just about everybody everywhere cleans their teeth and certainly the places I have been privileged enough and brave enough to travel have toothpaste. Second, toothpaste is pretty cheap, pretty small, very light, and usually pretty useful. The times it's not useful is when it's made in a place that has had a history of putting non-toothpaste/poison into toothpaste tubes and selling or exporting it leading to sickness and/deaths or when it has a flavor that just doesn't work for me - this is especially the case with toothpaste made for and marketed to children. Gak! Generally, I give them all at least one brushing. Often I use the whole tube, even if that's in a rotation. Or at least I did until my teeth became sensitive the cold. Sigh.

The two on the ends... they tasted like apple and grape Jolly Ranchers, respectively. It seems like that would turn kids off to tooth brushing. [shiver]

"It is good to collect things, but it is better to go on walks."
~Anatole France

Third, most places have at least one brand or style of marketing/packaging that is distinct and interesting to the outsider, i.e. me. And I sometimes have to hunt around a bit for such. For instance, Colgate is ubiquitous in many, many places and sometimes seems like the only option available. This is less the case for Aquafresh and Elmex, but they're the next most common that I've found. Also, toothpaste is available for sale at different types of stores in different countries or in a different section of a store than I, as an American, am used to. Also, despite the low cost, small size, and low weight I don't just buy all of them I find, even all the new ones. So, when I am able to hunt on my own, I also get to go on walks!

Pile of new displays, ready to go!

Finally, it's FUN(NY)! And other people think so, too, so when my family & friends go traveling or even sometimes when they know someone going traveling they'll bring me back or request someone bring me back some! How fun is that? I've even gotten some surprise packages in the mail from people who I don't normally get mail from with tubes of the stuff!

OK, OK. These aren't really foreign the same way the rest of the collection is, but a do have a few novelty toothpastes, too.

But a collection that is just in boxes is not for me. I am just too practical... or paranoid about being a hoarder... or worried about leaving too much for my "heirs"... or something else... or perhaps all of those things. It had always been my intention to frame them in shadow boxes, but it took me some years to get to it and even then I maybe had a dozen. Shadow boxes are expensive and my original idea was to use maps of the places they were from to mount them on. That was impractical for a few reasons, so it just didn't happen until... Ikea opened in Portland (where I lived at the time) and I decided to mount them in the style of my memory of an old natural history museum. I used my recollections of the "rock room" at the old OMSI from my childhood. Sure that's a science/industry museum, but science is the study of nature, so there.

I sure wish I'd kept Dad's typewriter, but I did what I could to make the labels look typed and handcut:
Brand County of manufacture/Country of purchase

I had already purchased a few shadowboxes on clearance at a craft store, but really got on a roll when I found these black, RIBBA, 9" x 9" (20cm x 20cm) at Ikea. Even at that cheap price, I haven't felt that I should buy enough to do the whole collection all at once, so I buy them in small batches and in the last year or so I have picked up enough new ones when visiting Portland to get most of the collection as it stands, including most of the generous gifts I've received in the last couple of years mounted and displayed!

New tubes! And finally stuff up on the window wall.

In the previous two homes, they've been displayed in the hallway, but here at the VME they are displayed in the upstairs bathroom. I think there is reasonably room for 6 or 7 more shadow boxes, but I think I could get the rest of my current collection displayed in 2 or 3, and I do hope to do some more traveling...

I have several more of the tiny ones in that frame under the medicine cabinet so I think i will reframe them altogether when I get more frames. 
I recently joined a Facebook Group dedicated to WTF-level items found in thrift stores. I kind of love the idea of these being included in such a thing when I'm dead. Maybe I need to make labels for the back? Hmmmmmmm.


  1. Further evidence of the uniqueness of your awesome personality. Both of your collections are brilliant -- I've never heard of anyone else collecting the books or the pastes. (I NEED Nihilist toothpaste!)

    1. HAHA! The books seem surprisingly difficult to find internationally. The Nihilist toothpaste did exactly what it says on the tin. I also don't think it has any anything in it for dental health!

  2. "I am just too practical... or paranoid about being a hoarder... or worried about leaving too much for my "heirs"... or something else... or perhaps all of those things." A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs. In no way could a toothpaste tube collection ever be hoarding. Also, what makes excessive accumulation is totally subjective. For instance, one can never have too many Halloween items.

    1. THANK YOU, DR. HOGUE! I do have some other purging of items to do, but not THESE items! Who has a more fun estate sale then someone with a lot of costume boxes? No one, that's who.


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