Displaying Your Collectibles

Part of the joy of a collection is displaying it and sharing it with others. A collection that's stuffed into boxes or drawers, or piled up in a closet or basement, isn't going to bring you as much pleasure, and can't be shared with anyone.

What Sort of Display to Use:

The type of collectible and how big your collection is will play a big role in determining how you store it. Shelves or display cases are an obvious solution, but unusually shaped items often lend themselves to unique display formats. Pocket knives, for example, can be displayed in a padded frame hung from the wall. A shelf running at or near the roof line of a room or hallway can be a nice display area for larger items such as vintage toys, lunchboxes, or teapots.

Consider, too, incorporating displays into furniture that serves other uses. You can get (or build) a coffee table with a glass top and a display area underneath. If you have a large bookcase or bookcases, consider dedicating one shelf at or near eye-level to your collectibles display. Adding a glass door to one of the shelves (or simply screwing a piece of Plexiglas over the shelf with your display) can keep your collectibles easily viewable but out of reach of children or inquisitive guests - and also save you time dusting. Oftentimes, existing items can be re-purposed as displays - for example, using a spice rack to display collectible figures.

Making the Most of Your Display:

Many collectors don't do anything other than simply place items on a shelf. While there's nothing wrong with this, taking a little time to make the most of your display can make your collectibles look their best. For smaller items, using tiered display shelves can make the most of shelf space.

Consider the background, too. Use a piece of cloth - either black velvet or brightly colored, depending on the items, to provide contrast. Another idea is to use mirrors so that all aspects of the item can be viewed. You can have mirrors cut to size at a glass shop or simply use 12x12 squares from a home store.

Another idea to consider is to use a background that's related to the collection - for example, a collection of vintage auto racing memorabilia could be displayed against a background of racing photos or magazine pictures. The background items may even become yet another collection.

Rotating Your Display:

Too often, collectors feel that they need to display every single item in their collection. While it can be appealing to you to have everything on display, guests may be overwhelmed. You may, instead, want to select specific items to put on display, either the most interesting or valuable items, or a selection of items that go well together.

Rotating your items periodically will keep your collection looking fresh and interesting to observers. If you have a collection that lends itself to seasonal themes, you can even rotate your display depending on the season.