Years ago, I started collecting sterling teaspoons in flea markets. Just one of a kind, never with the intention of accumulating a set. In fact, I think their beauty is diminished when duplicated so many times on a table.
I looked for ones that were old ( a few of mine are over 100 years old) more elaborate patterns, and especially ones with hand-engraving. Even if it's not my name or inital, hand-engraving is so beautiful, and rare now. I never spent much - I don't think ever more than $12. I gave a few away as gifts when they had the name or initial of the person on it. One person loves hers and talks about it to this day - the other looked at me like I was nuts. (shrugs) When I had enough to fill one of those spoon racks you hang on the wall, I quit. They are harder to find now, and with the price of silver now, no longer inexpensive.
I also collect pretty china plates. Again, only one of each (although I have a few "Blue Willow). I hang them on the wall as art, and in plate stands to put a dash of color or pattern in a room.
I have a couple of antiques, but mostly they are found at places like Home Goods (one of my favorite stores) There is no theme of pattern or color - just what I think is pretty, or would make a nice seasonal decoration.
I recently found this blog, Little Red House. I love her photographs, and she collects many of the things I love too. Her style is waaay more formal than mine, but I'm loving reading her blog.
I was given a couple of creamers that had belonged to a great-great Aunt. The cat knocked the sugar bowl off the shelf, leaving the creamer....I bought a few more over time, some porcelain and flowery, some pottery - hand-thrown or yellow ware....yeah, it's a collection.
I have stacks of cotton tea towels.....a few 'sheepy' items..... now that the rabbits have come, I had to get some bunnie-themed stuff..... More books than will fit on my two tall bookcases.....We won't even talk about my spindles, niddy-noddies, and other spinning paraphernalia....but those are working tools right?
Oh $^@%!!!! It's no wonder my house is such a mess. There may be a 'hoarders' intervention any minute!!! But, somehow I suspect I'm not alone. What do you collect?