Short film showcases quirky collectors

Article date: 20 April 2009

  • Insurer announces five winning collections

Brits are famed for their eccentricity and peculiar habits, and Norwich Union's search for the UK's Quirkiest Collectors has only confirmed the country's love of the weird and wonderful.

Norwich Union, soon to be Aviva, has scoured the country in a nationwide search to find the UK's most unique and unusual collections to star in a short film about collecting to be screened from 20 April on

Throughout February and March the public uploaded images and anecdotes of their treasured collections. And the UK's Quirkiest Collections can now be revealed.

Earning the accolade were five triumphant winners: collectors of cowboy memorabilia, salt & pepper pots, banana labels, frogs, and baked bean labels. Equally notable were the collections that didn't quite make the top five - skulls, butter moulds, antique razors, miniature shoes, post-boxes and not one, but two toilet paper collectors. All going to show Brits are collecting mad. 

About the winners

Wild wild west
Cowboys aren't just a collection for 58 year old Dennis Maskery, from Mansfield, it is more a way of life - he even dresses like a cowboy!  As a young boy, afternoons spent watching Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy matinees instilled a life-long love of all things Western. He collects cowboy memorabilia from stage coaches to figurines, Wanted posters to life-size cardboard cutouts and dresses in spurs, leather tasseled jacket, neckerchief and of course a Stetson.

Going bananas
Margaret Archer, 64, from Bournemouth kept her pastime of collecting banana labels a secret from even her closest friends and sought compadres online. Having started with one Winnie-the-Pooh banana label Margaret now has nearly 4,000 in her collection after trading with other collectors across the globe. Margaret is using her prize money to join her fellow collectors at a banana label convention in Munich later this year.

Hopping mad 
How Mary Halstead's, 64, collection began is as quirky as the collection itself - she saw a concert by country music singer, Raymond "Froggie" Froggatt and was pulled up on stage and given a toy frog. Ever since, green amphibians, of all shapes and sizes, have hopped into her house in St Helen's and now feature in every single room! She has 3,000 plus, from scarves to earrings, cookies jars to socks, and they come from as far afield as Cuba and Australia.

A seasoned collector
It's a good job that Christine's collection is made up of small pieces as her salt & pepper sets rule the roost. 65 year old Christine Edwards, from Burnley, has a collection that ranges from the novelty - Betty Boop, ocean liners and toilets! - to the themed, from fairy tales to farms and Noah's Ark. The bathroom, of course, has salt and pepper boats. The retired teacher lovingly logs each individual piece in a student's old exercise book.

Mr Bean
When Robin Sharp, 55, from Bury St Edmunds, cleared out his larder more than 20 years ago, it set in motion a chain of events that would lead him to have one of the world's wackiest collections - baked bean labels.  With a total of 354 labels, Robin's "bean" around the world in search of unique baked bean labels.

All five of the winning collectors take home £500 and star in a short film to be aired on from 20 April. For those not so lucky to be crowned one of the UK's Quirkiest Collectors, Norwich Union is still offering free contents insurance to new customers when they buy buildings insurance. *


For further information contact: Fiona Robinson, Frank PR on 0207 693 6959 or or Rebecca Homes, Norwich Union Press Office: 01603 685177/ 07800 690731

Images and online clips:
Available upon request is a two minute clip of the full documentary and images of the collectors from: Fiona Robinson, Frank PR on 0207 693 6959 or

Notes to editors:

* The offer applies for all new Norwich Union buildings and contents home insurance policies when you have been claim free for three or more years on your current buildings and contents insurance.

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva.  Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 28 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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