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When a Collection Takes Wing

These angel collections are made in various shapes, sizes and materials.

Clubs allow angel collectors to share their passion.

I was working on my latest writing project, a book about angels, and having strong doubts. It was August, 1991, and there hadn’t been much national interest in angels in many years. I had some heavenly stories to share, but would anyone want to read them?

The doorbell rang and the mailman handed me a small package marked “Fragile.” It was from a fellow author in Canada, which seemed strange, since we only wrote at Christmas, and never exchanged gifts. Her card read, “I think God wants you to have this.” I opened the box and stared at a little angel figurine in a red dress. No one knew about my writing project, yet my friend followed a heavenly nudge to encourage me: “Keep going!” Where Angels Walk ended up on the New York Times bestseller list.

It didn’t take long before readers began sending me angels. Statues, of course, but also angel soap, picture frames, pins, shawls…with the growing interest in angels, crafters were finding new outlets for their designs and stores dedicated to angels were opening. “It used to be that angels were only available at Christmas,” one woman wrote, “but now they’re becoming an industry!” 

I soon discovered the national Angel Collectors Club of America (ACCA), founded in 1976, which celebrates angels. A second club, Angels of the World International (AWI), similar in focus, was getting started, and I joined both. In addition to a bi-yearly convention, both organizations also created smaller regional groups with more frequent meetings. 

Many collectors began as I did, receiving a gift of an angel, then wanting another, and another… But it’s not uncommon to meet people who have been collecting since childhood. These enthusiasts, if not restrained by their families, would build additional rooms for angel display! Occasionally featured in local newspapers surrounded by their heavenly hosts, these super-collectors often inspire new members to join.

There are so many forms of angels that everyone can find something to enjoy. Some members focus primarily on specific types of angels, such as the birthday series (one statue per month) or a popular set of boy angels, each playing a different sport. One woman collects angels with red hair, while another concentrates on frog angels. In addition to figurines, specialty collectors look for vintage angel cards, buttons, cookie tins and jewelry. The thrill is in the hunt.

Most club members, however, have eclectic collections. In my office, I have two angel mobiles, some framed art, a Victorian lady and a doll from Kansas whose wings are made out of straw. My shelves are filled with angel books, as well as glass and paper ornaments for decorating at Christmas. 

Julie Henrickson, ACCA’s current activities chairperson, brings out angels according to the holiday. “I have angels for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving,” she says. “There’s enough to be always putting different ones out.” Sue Vecchiarelli, vice-president of AWI, keeps her collection permanently displayed in a “huge curio bursting at the seams,” as she describes it.

Members share poetry, book reviews, recipes, and garden tips, and search for items needed to complete a project. I recently met a collector who had bought yards of angel-embossed lace. “I couldn’t resist it even though I don’t sew,” she said. She felt certain she’d meet a fellow collector who would want it.

Club members provide mutual support in other ways. Through ACCA’s Halo newsletter, which features angel-related events and new products, members will post information about who need prayers and get well cards. Also, club members often hold fundraisers for their designated charity, The Make-A-Wish Foundation. 

I probably should have kept an orderly record and description of each angel as it joined the others in my house, as a true collector does. But no matter how many I have, that first little sculpture from my earth angel in Canada will always have the place of honor. Like the heavenly messengers, it changed my life.

For more information:

$20 annual dues
Pauline Neff, VP

$10 annual dues
Sue Vecchiarelli, VP

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