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Lynn Hummel: Don’t save those wine corks

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I just read that there is a decline in philately. I thought, “That’s good, there’s been way too much of that stuff going on. Things are finally going to turn around.” Then I read further and discovered that philately is stamp collecting. Oh.

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It is amazing what people collect to amuse themselves — or for business. It has been said that, “if something exists, somebody somewhere collects them.” The affluent collect art and antique automobiles, while kids collect baseball cards, toys, rocks, seashells and bobbleheads. The rest of us collect antique furniture, coins, china, guns and sports memorabilia. Then there are serious hoarders, folks with obsessive-compulsive disorders who think some day they might run out of string or cans, so they create giant balls of string and huge pyramids of cans.

Also, there is the “someday this is going to be valuable” mentality that makes collecting not just a hobby, but a business for some people — collectors and dealers. In that business, the issue is who do you trust? To answer that question, there are guide books that discuss value factors: rarity, condition, supply, demand, etc. One of the oldest of those guide books is the Stanley Gibbons Catalogue published in 1865 (which itself is probably a collector’s item).

Given that background, it was fascinating for me to read a tiny ad in the miscellaneous column of the want ads a week ago: “180 used wine corks for crafting projects. $7.00. (phone number).”

The ad raises all sorts of questions. The first is — how long did it take to drink those 180 bottles of wine? The other questions follow. Did you need any help with the drinking? What kinds of crafts did you have in mind? What crafts have you already done with used wine corks and how long did it take you to drink the bottles that produced those corks, and how much help did you need with the drinking? The final three questions are — isn’t that an expensive hobby you have, what effect has your hobby had on your health, and why do you have surplus corks?

I’m trying to imagine what 180 used wine corks could be used for. One possibility would be knitting a colorful cork-filled life jacket for your granddaughter who is just learning to swim. Another would be — with the addition of thousands of corks (don’t even think about the drinking it would take to produce those corks, the expense or the health effects) to make a swimming raft that would bob up and down in the water, just like — a cork.

In order to make this column somewhat useful to my readers when I can, I try to draw a helpful moral to the story when the opportunity presents itself. The moral of this story is that collecting wine corks is a hobby that should be discouraged because it will take too much time, be far too expensive and could be harmful to your health. As to the potential crafting projects the corks could produce, forget about it — they probably won’t fly — or float.

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