The genesis of unique collections all usually have an interesting story behind them, and the tale behind how world traveler Jim Miskell’s started his vintage video game collection is no exception.
“My collection started when I was on a trip to Bulgaria,” he said. “At the airport, I found a Nintendo magazine and picked it up to read on the plane. I felt quite emotional and nostalgic during the flight remembering how much I loved my N64.”
“When I got to Bulgaria, I was staying at the Hilton and there was an assassination attempt on an opposition political leader in the building directly next door. I was like ‘Maybe I’ll just stay in my room and get room service instead of venturing out where someone had just almost been murdered on live TV.’ I spent all night on Amazon and eBay buying all my favorite games, and have never looked back.”
But you don’t need a near-death experience to start a collection of any kind. If you just have the desire to start an out-of-this-world collection, keep reading to find some inspiration in Miskell’s video games. We also talked to two other collectors who said their original collections add joy to their lives and their spaces every day.
Vintage Video Game Collection from Around the World
Miskell collects PAL region Nintendo 64 games, which are versions of the well-known video games made specifically for N64 consoles used outside Japan and North America and are no longer produced. Talk about unique!
“My strangest encounter with collecting came when I was throwing a sofa out, and a lad next to me dropped a box and N64 game boxes spilt onto the floor,” he said. “I was like ‘Mate, you cannot throw them away.’ He looked at me like I was a peasant as I scrambled in the dirt picking the boxes up, but I happily took his garbage home and gave it a new life in my collection!”
He buys the games online, but loves to go to independent stores when back in the U.S.
Today, he has more than a thousand Nintendo 64 games that he shows off to friends in glass cabinets. He said his wife loves his hobby, and has even organized the collection in alphabetical order for him! And he plans to make the collection a family favorite, once his son is old enough to play the games.
“I doubt I will ever stop collecting games,” he said. “Once I complete my N64 collection, I will still pick up games for other systems I love like the Dreamcast and GameCube.”
Sewing Machine Collection Put to Good Use
When Rafael Rosado and his girlfriend launched their clothing company Earl Salko in Philadelphia, he started collecting secondhand sewing machines out of necessity to produce garments in their small studio.
“Little by little it grew into a collection,” he said. “We find them everywhere. Living in the Northeast, we find a lot of sewing skeletons because this area was the backbone of the garment industry.”
Rosado collects, restores and then uses the sewing machines to create classic American-inspired clothing for his customers. The oldest of the current 32-piece sewing machine collection was made in 1890, and he still uses the old machine to create modern clothes.
“They’re all interesting,” he said. “When you really stop and think about the level of engineering and machine knowhow that was prevalent 100 year ago, it’s amazing.”
Like many other collectors, Rosado has several other collections, including one of lighters and another of books.
“I’m fascinated by pretty things, and I’m super picky,” he said. “I like to collect things that not everyone has.”
Unique Collections: Dice Collection Continues to Grow
In 2008, Rose Ellen Burns started her unique collection of dice after shopping for a game in her local department store. Little did she know how many she’d acquire over the years!
“My husband started bringing me home different ones, and now I have more than 1,000 pairs of dice,” she said. “It has been awhile since I’ve counted them.”
Burns said she always keeps her eyes peeled for fun pieces to add to her collection, which currently includes handmade die carved out of stone and almost every color die you can imagine.
“The most fun way (to add to the collection) is to go into dice and card game shops in town and find the unique and interesting ones there,” she said.
She used to store her dice collection in a small bag, but has since upgraded to a large diaper bag to keep it all in one place.
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Photos courtesy of Jim Miskell, Rafael Rosado and Rose Ellen Burns.