Belgian collects 60,000 vintage tin boxes

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. accumulate / əˈkyu myəˌleɪt / (v.) – to gather little by little

    My grandparents accumulated a large number of stamps over the years.

  2. some / səm / (adv.) – about

    Some fifty people came to the party.

  3. occupy / ˈɒk yəˌpaɪ / (v.) – to fill or take up a place

    My cat usually occupies this chair.

  4. amid / əˈmɪd / (prep.) – in the middle of or surrounded by something

    My dad is the guy standing amid the piles of books.

  5. show up / ʃoʊ ʌp / (phrasal v.) – to arrive or appear

    I’m angry because Hank didn’t show up until after the movie started.


Read the text below.

The colorful tins piled high around Belgian collector Yvette Dardenne used to contain goods ranging from chocolates, toffees, coffee and rice to tobacco, talc and shoe polish. They come from as far away as India.

The 83-year-old has accumulated almost 60,000 vintage tin boxes from all over the world since starting her collection some 30 years ago.

The collection, which now occupies four houses, began with a Cote d’Or chocolate box illustrated with a painting of a blond-haired girl in a blue hat, Dardenne told Reuters, standing amid the carefully arranged tin boxes in the medieval watermill she owns next to her home.

Later, the tins just came to her, she said.

“I haven’t been anywhere. I was not traveling. People still think I have traveled a lot. It quickly became known (that I collected boxes). Sometimes, right after my husband left for the office, someone would show up to offer me something,” said Dardenne, who lives in Grand-Hallet, a village about 60 km east of Brussels.

Her collection can be visited by appointment. (Reuters)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Dardenne has collected almost 60,000 vintage tin boxes. In your opinion, why do some people start to collect things? Do you think the items that people commonly collect have changed much over the years? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • A hoarder is a person who struggles to throw away items, often to the point where his/her home is full of things. In your opinion, what is the line between a collector and a hoarder (ex. collectors usually focus on one item, hoarders keep everything)? Is hoarding a common problem in your country? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Dardenne’s collection can be visited by appointment. Are you interested in seeing it? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • 83-year-old Dardenne has accumulated almost 60,000 vintage tin boxes that now occupy four houses. What do you think should happen to her collection when she passes away? Why? Discuss.