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The inhabitants present unique collections



Coin collector Keith Gazzara posed with his daughter Ainsley, who holds a Peter Rabbit Royal Mint commemorative coin in honor of Beatrix Potter. (Courtesy photo)

For many, collecting certain objects is a lifelong passion, which begins at an early age.

For Keith Gazzara, his interest in collecting started because his mother told him to “make a hobby”.

“She said, ‘You need something to occupy yourself.’ At the time, stamp collecting belonged to President Roosevelt, and my uncles collected stamps. I started collecting stamps and really enjoyed the illustrations on them. Then I turned to coins, specifically looking at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics collector coins that were issued by the US Mint. I thought they were pretty cool, ”Gazzara said.

Gazzara said collecting coins has become a “passion to collect for the work of art and its beauty, but also to collect coins as an investment.”

“I have expanded my collection beyond US Mint coins to collect from other countries. When my daughter was born in 2019, I made it my mission to buy coins for her from various banks around the world from the year she was born so that she will have them when she is older. I have the full US Mint commemorative set. I have the commemorative set from the Royal Mint from England and one from Switzerland, and I’m waiting for a friend of mine to get me a set from Greece, ”said Gazzara.

Gazzara said he now has thousands of pieces in his collection.

“I started cataloging them a few years ago and I’m about halfway there. Life took a detour when my daughter was born, and I’ve put that aside for the past two years, ”said Gazzara.

Many coins in Gazzara’s collection may not have much monetary value – beyond face value – but he is drawn to their historical significance, especially with his oldest coin, which was minted during Roman Empire.

“It’s a bronze coin; it is still covered with mud and gravel. It has no other value than its historical value, but it is interesting to note that it dates from the first century. I also have a 16th century Spanish coin. You hold a piece of metal in your hand, and who could have held it? Who knows the story behind this? It’s romantic to think about her story, ”said Gazzara.

The majority of his collection, Gazzara said, consists of nine-proof coins, including his two favorite sets.

“The US Mint has released a coin set for the 500th anniversary of the landing of Christopher Columbus. I have two silver coins and the accompanying gold coin. This is a proof set, and this set is really probably my most prized … However, my favorite is my 2010 John Lennon Silver £ 5 coin from the Royal Mint, as it combines two of my favorites: coin coin collectors and the Beatles, ”Gazzara said.

Even considering their worth, Gazzara has no intention of parting with them, or any of the others.

“They will stay in my collection and I hope to give them to my daughter one day,” Gazzara said.

Jane Velazquez, seen here with her collection, first took an interest in high school sewing patterns. (Courtesy photo)

Some people like to collect unconventional items. For Jane Velazquez, it goes through sewing patterns, a passion that began in high school.

“When I started sewing at 16 in high school, Ms. [Rose Rita] Guerere taught us to treat our models well so that we can use them over and over again. I thought it was so cool. They are very delicate. I knew I would continue to sew in college and throughout my life, so I wanted to save them forever, ”Velazquez said.

Velazquez, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design, now has over 200 models in his collection. She noted that the sewing patterns are “made cheaply, even though they are expensive to buy.”

“When I use one, I repack it well so I can use it again. If people give it, I have to take it. I used to buy them when they were on clearance just to get them, ”Velazquez said.

Keeping track of them, Velazquez said, is relatively easy.

“As an artist, nothing in my life is organized, but I know where all my models are and have bought lockers to store them, as well as bins in the basement, garage and even the trunk of my car, ”Velazquez said.

Velazquez’s collection of models, which has been growing for 25 years and covers the entire range from clothing to handbags, plush toys, baby accessories and more, is a diverse mix of fashion tastes and more. seasonal items.

“Sometimes you buy a pattern just because it’s cool, and you might use it someday, like buying Halloween costume patterns – which are my favorite – out of season. Some of my favorites are the very outdated styles like the Nehru jackets for men. I will never use it, but I had to have it … I like old or out of print designs. They are so nostalgic. I got a lot from the 70s and 80s, ”Velazquez said.

Greg White proudly stands next to a massive diorama he built in his basement for his collection of model trains. (THG / Joseph F. Berenato. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

Nostalgia also drove Greg White in his passion for collecting, in his case, model trains.

“I was a kid in the 1950s, so my dad had Lionel trains. We had a large exhibit in the basement; it was O scale at the time, and it was a pretty large layout. The kids would come and we all had fun on the trains and things. I was flying around the corner and hitting the oil tank, and it was going down to the ground, which wasn’t that big, ”he said.

White met his future wife, Debb, in Syracuse, NY, when he started his own collection.

“When we were honeymooners, I started on HO scale trains. I was in a corporate environment so when I got promoted we ended up moving and I had built a really big network in New Hampshire. We moved to Reading, PA and then we moved to St. Louis, Mo. at corporate headquarters. I was tired of taking this thing apart and putting it back in place with every movement. There was a move pending, and I decided to sell everything. I sold all the rolling stock – about 200 pieces – to an Illinois coal miner, and I was stuck with this big table that was equivalent to seven four-by-eight sheets, laid out for HO. I announced it, and one day a priest stopped, we loaded him up and he went to the rectory … other than having a big G-scale train – which I have outside and inside – I was totally away from the trains, ”he said.

When their eldest daughter, Jessica, moved to Hammonton, Greg and Debb White quickly followed and settled in town in May 2017.

“Three years before I even bought this house I started collecting trains for this thing I had in mind and was going to build, so one of the main things when we moved to Hammonton was to finding a suitable basement … It was kind of nostalgia, getting back on trains, but it was also a way for me to unleash my creativity, ”he said.

The ‘thing’ Greg White built is a tiered platform that he said took ‘about two and a half years before I finished all the plywood decking’.

“The top two layers were fully completed in three months… It is 32 feet long by about 10 feet at its maximum depth,” he said.

The pandemic gave Greg White more time to work on the massive diorama.

“That’s when I started having fun putting the lower level, which is on the G scale. It’s almost a forced perspective when looking up a hill. There are seven full main lines: two at the top, three in the middle, and two at the bottom. They can all run at the same time; I actually drive two of the trains on one of the lower G scale networks, so I can run eight trains at a time, ”he said.

The train diorama has its own room and is the centerpiece of its collection, which, between engines and cars, contains around 200 pieces and also includes over 250 railway artifacts throughout the house.

“The intention, for me, as a retreat, my goal was to keep it simple. I am not a person who likes to exchange and pair; I like to light them, lean back with something to drink and watch them run. I am in my own little fantasy world, ”he said.

Debb White shows off some of her vintage children’s riding toys and other favorite antiques, including an antique post office counter. (THG / Joseph F. Berenato. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

Greg White is not the house’s only collector. Debb White has her share of collectibles, though she was quick to point out that she has “no collections that come close to the size of Greg’s.”

“I tend to go from one thing to another and then come back. Sometimes it’s a very eclectic type of collection, ”she said.

Among his collectibles are various Stickley furniture, an old dining room-style jukebox, a large coffee grinder and more, but some pieces form a theme.

“I have quite a few horses and children’s riding toys. I have a lot of them, ”she said.

Debb White said her fascination with such pieces likely started with her husband’s interest in ride-on trains.

“It quickly turned into anything the kids could use as little kids, like our walking snail Mobo. He walks on the ground and the horses do the same, ”she said.

Debb White said she had other vintage toys in her collection, many of which were pewter. She noted that while seemingly eclectic, her collection is carefully curated.

“You could spend thousands and thousands of dollars on some of the tin toys, but the ones we have are particularly relevant to us. Greg and I remember going to carnivals in the 1950s, where roller coasters looked like this and Ferris wheels looked like that. Sometimes we just buy things to remind ourselves of this. In one of our rooms we have a pinball machine; it’s a state fair pinball machine. Greg and I went to the State Fair in Syracuse, NY when we were dating, ”she said.

Another gem in his collection is a large postal outlet from Grubville, Missouri.

“We found this in the basement of an old antique store … I fell in love with it. We lived in a small town in New Hampshire that had a general store, and the post office was in the store – and it looked exactly like that, ”she said.

The desire to bring together pieces of their life together is what motivates a large part of their selection.

“A lot of these things take us back to some point in our own history. This is what makes our collection; these are things that are memorable to us, ”said Debb White.