Nfld. & Labrador

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on with Eastport woman's unique collection

Nancy Morgan, 80, has a remarkable collection of salt and pepper shakers — 2,920 sets, to be exact.

Nancy Morgan of Eastport has 3,000 salt & pepper sets in her collection — and isn't stopping anytime soon

At the age of 80, Nancy Morgan of Eastport still loves the thrill of discovering a new set of salt and pepper shakers. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

The Oxford Learner's Dictionary defines the noun "collector" as "a person who collects things, either as a hobby or as a job."

Nancy Morgan of Eastport could have been the original inspiration for the word.

At the age of 80, Morgan has a remarkable collection of salt and pepper shakers — 2,920 sets, to be exact. She's hoping to pass the 3,000 mark by Christmas. 

Animals make up a large part of Morgan's collection: birds, mice, elephants, and frogs, to name a few. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

In the beginning ...

Morgan received salt and pepper shaker sets before she was married, which was in 1961. The collector's bug, however, didn't take hold for another 10 years.

"I think when we were in Ontario living, I went to a store there, a hardware store, in fact," she said. "And I picked up a couple of pairs I liked, and that was in '73."

Thus began a lifelong passion.

Today in Morgan's bungalow, a treasure has been carefully placed in every part of her home. 

Morgan meticulously catalogues her salt and pepper sets, with each one numbered on bottom. (Heather Barrett/CBC)
I do value anything given me … and they're all marked.-Nancy Morgan

From Christmas-themed sets to frogs, Morgan has gathered an enormous collection, made from a host of materials like ceramic, china, glass and brass. 

Many of Morgan's pieces are vintage, with one particular shaker set that holds a special place in her heart. 

"It was made in 1904. That came from a yard sale in Ontario," she said. "Just married."

This sweet salt and pepper set is about 100 years old, and is one of Morgan's favourites. (Heather Barrett/CBC)
 

Much of Morgan's collection comes from the garage sales she's searched out over the years. She's also frequented local dollar stores, goodwill centres and antique stores for the next exciting find. Friends have also been on the lookout for her in Florida, where there are hundreds of flea markets..

"My friend and her father used to go to Florida, and they came back one time, I think, with something like 80 sets, between him and her," said Morgan.

"And another time he went himself, she didn't go … and he came back with over 40 sets for me."

Morgan is thinking about removing the deep freeze in her sunroom to create more space for her collection. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

From the Azores to Badger's Quay

The salt and pepper shakers are organized in every nook and cranny in Morgan's home. 

In the hallway, on windowsills, and in the sunroom where the deep freeze is kept. Morgan eventually wants to move out the freezer to make space for more sets.

She's purchased hundreds of sets herself, but Morgan's friends and family on vacation have brought her souvenirs from all over the globe — from Vancouver to Cyprus to the Azores.

"I do value anything given me … and they're all marked. I number them, I put them in a book."

Morgan has quite a selection of salt and pepper shaker sets that are made from metal, including silver and brass. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

But Morgan also enjoys the sweet sets close to home too, pointing to a set that came from a store around Badger's Quay.

"A lady who lives here, she went down, and I guess her mom was closing out the store."  

Some sage advice on this salt and pepper set. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

How about that dusting!

Once a year, Morgan carefully takes each salt and pepper shaker off its shelf and begins the process of dusting.

It's a labour of love and takes several weeks. Morgan cleans the shelves, and then the sets, and puts them all back, as pristine as when they were first set in her home.

Salt, pepper and one heck of a collection: Listen as Nancy Morgan describes her passion to Weekend AM's Heather Barrett: 

Gavin Will of Boulder Books talk about how his small publishing company is keeping up with the demand of two of its biggest sellers, and Heather checks out a very, very large collection of salt and pepper shakers. 22:10

"I only do a few at a time," she said.

"Like I don't come out and say, 'OK, this got to be done this week.' And if I don't feel like it they don't get done until next time."

There are hundreds of Christmas-themed salt and pepper sets in Morgan's home. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

Oh, the irony

But for all the salt and pepper shakers in her house — she never uses them for practical purposes.

She has a working set in the kitchen, but oddly enough, doesn't use pepper. "Pepper, not ... salt, too much," she said. 

When asked what she enjoys most about collecting salt and peppers, Morgan says she loves the thrill of the chase.

"I don't know. Maybe it's just seeing how many different sets that I can get," she said.

"I was wondering how many ... how many different sets do you think that's been made. It would be something, wouldn't it?" 

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Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Heather Barrett

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