I have noticed in recent years that children are being encouraged to build collections of things. These things, unfortunately, cost money and are only sporadically available. Beanie Babies were an early type of this salesmanship. Now, the proliferation of things like Shopkins are becoming even cagier. Children are asked to buy the toy without knowing which one they will get, possibly a duplicate of one they already have.
You could argue that collecting baseball cards was a similar activity. However, baseball cards were connected to actual athletes a child could connect with. I, for example, loved Brooklyn Dodgers’s cards, though I never much liked Topp’s Bubble Gum.
But it got me thinking about my own collections as a child. I had very little money for most of my childhood, so my collections needed to be free or nearly so. One favorite was my brother’s and my pop bottle cap collection. Our dad played golf and there was usually a pop chest(a large horizontal freezer-like container you had to wiggle the bottles around to get the one you wanted)at the end of the course. This was ideal hunting ground for bottle caps scattered on the ground. We would squeal with delight over rare finds like Nehi Strawberry pop. We had to do our scavenging out in the world since we never drank pop at home.(Kool-Aid was as close as we got.)
For even more fun, the caps had a cork lining you could remove. Then, placing the bottle cap on the outside of your t-shirt and the cork on the inside, you could wear the bottle cap like a campaign button. Silly maybe, but great fun.
Somewhere along the line, my collection disappeared. But I remember when each bottle cap find was treasured–and free!