Junk becomes her treasure

You name it, and Diana Driscoll collects it.  

A book signed by Queen Victoria, misprint stamps, antique coins by the thousands, samurai swords, mandolin, war time radio, gramophone. She has dolls, cups, pots, pens, bottles, pictures, books, singer machines, coal irons, buttons, vintage model cars.  

Every nook and cranny of her home is stacked with something of an auctioneer’s dream. 

In her home on West End Cayman Brac, the walls are packed with pictures, the shelves are stacked with trinkets and collectibles, and you can barely see the kitchen counter for turtle heads, whale bones and chip and dale plates. But Mrs. Driscoll, 73, cares not, for she is pleased with what she has accomplished. Her second husband thinks otherwise when he makes his way to the kitchen.  

“He gets annoyed, but sometimes he enjoys some of the pieces,” she said. 

An endurable collector of many things, Mrs. Driscoll is called a junk collector by her grandchildren. She just brushes it off in good spirit by saying she loves her things. 

Mrs. Driscoll’s collection grew steadily over the years from the time her first husband travelled abroad and the children moved out.  

“They would collect coins, stamps pictures and other items to bring home for me,” she said. “I have a book written by Queen Victoria and signed by her in 1862, which I found at the dump,” Mrs. Driscoll said. 

“I need a place the size of the Aston Rutty Civic Centre for my collections, I have books by the thousands, paintings by the hundreds, old bank notes, gallons upon gallons of old coins from all over the world, stamps by the thousands from all over the world, clothes, shoes, bags and boxes,” she said. “You name it and I think I have it.” 

Some days Mrs. Driscoll spends her time scouring trash heaps for valuable items others might throw away. Other times, she visits the dump and if she sees something that no one wants, she does not hesitate to ask for it.  

After Hurricane Paloma hit Cayman Brac in 2008, Mrs. Driscoll said it was a treasure trove of stuff to be collected. 

“I started collecting things when I was 3,” she said. “Sick with typhoid fever, I could not come out of the house so I would sit by the window, and look out and dream of the things I wanted to have. 

“My first item was a birthday card with the words ‘We Willy Winkle runs through the town’ from my uncle in the United States,” she said. 

Mrs. Driscoll is rapidly running out of space.  

“The yard, closets and the porch are stacked tight, anything that is collectable I try to have it. Right now I want a piece of old time thatch rope,” she said. 

Desperately trying to recall the amount of things she has collected, Mrs. Driscoll said she thinks the oldest instrument is the mandolin made in the 1700s somewhere in Europe.  

“But it is not the oldest thing,” she adds. “I have a Singer sewing machine that was used by my grandmother, which is over 130 years old,” she proudly adds. 

These collectables, along with an old time war radio, coal iron, gramophone and calabash vessel, were on display at her look and learn booth at the Agriculture Show last month in Cayman Brac. 

She was asked by this Compass reporter if she ever considered selling some of the stuff, giving it away, or donating it to the museum.  

She responded by sighing and saying, “I feel a sense of satisfaction when I am able to see all the items around me.”  

With a look of contentment, she gently touches the cover of an old photo album yellow with age.  

“I cannot bear to part with a single piece,” she said. 

For a moment, Mrs. Driscoll realises she may have too much stuff.  

“Right now, I am trying to ease up on collecting things,” she said. “I just do not have the space, only if a get a place built will I am able to collect more,” she said. “What I would really like is my own place, a ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Remembrance Hall’ so others can view my collection.” 

diana collection

Diana Driscoll is seen with some of her collection. – Photos: Jewel Levy

diana driscol collection

This Singer sewing machine, dating back some 130 years, belonged to Mrs. Driscoll’s grandmother.

diana driscol look and learn

Mrs. Driscoll had antique items on display last month during the Agriculture Show in Cayman Brac.