Collecting — a truly British pastime

Britain has more than its fair share of collectors. David Lewis spoke to two men whose hoarding hobby borders on obsession


f all the Great British eccentrics we’ve come to associate with our nation, one of the most

fascinating is the avid collector — a hoarder of everything anything from model trains and matchbox toys to movie posters and old coins. But for whatever reason, some Brits just aren’t content with a simple stamp collection; they want to take their talents to the next level. One such collector is Steve

Jones, who’s spent years accruing hundreds of types of marmalade jar, poster and fi gurine. He’s scoured car boot sales, specialist markets, antique stores and online auctions to amass his trove. So dedicated is Steve, he’s even plucked old pieces from the site of a Victorian rubbish dump. “I was driven by a desire

to be the best in the world at something, and the 100-metre sprint was beyond me,” Steve

— nicknamed T e Marmalord — admits. “I still buy the odd thing covertly, and probably always will,” he adds. “My friends and family

think it’s weird — they don’t contribute to the collection. But my fi rstborn will inherit it all.” And does he have a favourite

he prizes above others? “I’ve close to 400 pieces but a Fran Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade pot would be the fi rst one I’d pick up if the house was on fi re. Obviously, I’d get my wife and kid fi rst!” Down in Surrey, 81-year-old

Monty Booth has been indulging in his passion for

I was driven by a desire to be the best at something, and the 100 metres was beyond me

tyrosemiophilia — collecting cheese labels — since starting at senior school in 1951. “I started gathering together cheese

labels because stamp collecting at school was seen as too

mercantile. It was a little risky, since boys would rip each other off ,” the retired banker recalls. “Cheese labels had no intrinsic value at all, like football stickers, when we were younger.”

Monty has dozens of designs that stretch back to the time a war-ravaged Britain soldiered on despite rationing and shortages. “It’s amazing to see the album again after all these years. It always brings back so many memories,” he says. “But I

couldn’t possibly have eaten all that cheese. I must have swapped them with boys from school.” But does he still enjoy the taste all these years later? “I no longer eat processed cheese.” Monty laughs. “It doesn’t agree with me!”

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