As a child, you might have had a rock or stamp collection to help pass the time and assuage your curiosity about the world. But for some of us, collecting average, everyday items just didn’t cut it.
Here’s a look at some of the most bizarre collections around the world, which are impressive in both their strangeness and the dedication it took to build them.
1. Talking clocks
That’s right, the largest collection of not just regular old clocks, but specifically ones that communicate, is owned by Amherst, Ohio resident Mark McKinley. Professor McKinley currently owns 954 talking clocks, one of almost every model made since 1911.
McKinley’s clocks aren’t all set to the correct time, as that would result in a wild cacophony every time the hour struck. Instead, he’s set the almost-thousand-strong to various times so that his day is underscored by a perpetual announcement of, often, the incorrect time.
“It’s like living next to railroad tracks,” McKinley told Cleveland.com. “You get used to them.”
Interested parties can learn more about McKinley’s clocks via his YouTube channel.
2. Back scratchers
Objectively a rather useful collection, the largest single group of back scratchers on record is owned by dermatologist Manfred S. Rothstein. Rothstein keeps his 675 scratchers in his dermatology clinic, and they hail from 71 countries. He’s been collecting back scratchers since the 1970s, including one made from buffalo ribs.
The collection can be viewed in Rothstein’s Fayetteville, North Carolina, practice, although you might have to schedule a cleaning first.
3. Navel lint
Librarian Graham Barker (now 54) has been saving his own naval lint since he was 19. In 2010, his collection weighed in at 22.1 grams and occupied three jars. Barker began holding onto the navel lint he’d grab from his belly button before showering, and categorizes the fluff by date.
Barker has held the Guinness World Record for largest amount of navel lint collected since 2000, probably because he’s not up against much competition. He assured the Daily Mail that “It never goes mouldy and does not smell.”
If Petra Engles of Viersen, Germany, ever makes an error while writing in pencil, she won’t have to worry. Petra owns the world’s largest collection of erasers — 19,571, to be exact — and has been collecting them since she was nine. Hailing from 112 different countries, the erases are kept in 22 glass showcases and a cupboard with 12 drawers to keep them safe and allow for prime viewing opportunities.
Nine-year-old Matthew Waring from Lancashire is coming for Engles’ crown, with a collection of 3,500 erasers. The world of rubber enthusiasts will eagerly await to see if he can possibly catch up, or if Engles will keep him off her tail.
5. McDonald’s memorabilia
Mike Fountaine, a 60-year-old Pennsylvania resident, owns the world’s largest collection of Micky D’s merch, coming in at 75,000 pieces of memorabilia. Fountaine received his first specimen at age 16, when he was awarded a pin to commemorate his one-year anniversary of working as a fry cook. Since then, he’s amassed everything from Happy Meal toys to cups and pins — and even one franchise location all his own in Allentown.
His smaller items are on display in a 2,400-square-foot barn, and the collection takes up nine rooms of his own home. It’s safe to say at this point that if McDonald’s has made it, Fountaine owns it.
6. Traffic cones
Drivers might despise them, but David Morgan loves them — the Oxfordshire, U.K., resident is the proud owner of 500 pylons.
Morgan works for Oxford Plastic Systems, the world’s largest traffic-cone maker, and started collecting after a rival cone producer tried to take legal action over the design look of a cone. Morgan searched the country to prove cones with the design had existed previously, won, and hung onto his evidence.
“It’s really interesting,” he told Oxford Mail. “There are so many different shapes, sizes and colors. And the models are always changing.”
He also assured that he never just takes cones — he always replaces them with models he keeps stored in his car. They’re a safety measure, after all.
7. Troll dolls
They don’t just live under bridges; if you want to visit the largest known family of trolls, just pop over to Sherry Groom’s collection on display at the Arts for Alzheimer’s Gallery and Performing Arts Center in Alliance, Ohio. Groom owns 3,254 troll dolls of all sizes, with iconic shocks of hair in all colors.
“I came from the era when people thought collecting things was a cool thing, and it just so happened that I had a couple of people who were generous who said ‘Oh! I’ll get you a collection,’” the psychiatric nurse told the World Record Academy.
Around the corner from the Alzheimer’s Gallery, construction on the Troll Hole Folk Art Gallery is underway, where the trolls will be moved and permanently housed for anyone who wishes to visit.
While it may be too late to surpass the vast collections of any of these folks in your lifetime, it’s never too late to start gathering your favorite toy or item of nostalgia. If you act fast, maybe you can even end up with the record for it.