George is an Advanced Physics teacher, husband and father of two from Birkirkara with an extraordinary pastime. His dream is to become the owner of Malta’s biggest keychain collection.
At the moment he’s surpassed the thousands mark, but he’s not planning to stop collecting anytime soon. “This year my collection has really taken off. At the beginning of the year I had less than a thousand keychains, about 900. After I put out a call for keychains on Facebook I started getting loads of messages and words of encouragement. I’ve now got over 2,000 different keychains” he told Lovin Malta.
To see it is to believe it. George meticulously cleans and sorts every single new find before they are hung onto custom-made shiny wooden boards. Sometimes they need a bit of restoration before they are added to the displays.
“I recently bought a job lot of 600 keychains from a man in Rabat. They were old and some of them were rusty, so I made sure to replace all the keychains with new metal hooks and chains” he said. Now back to their former glory after all that tender loving care, the vintage keychains are proudly presented next to the rest of the collection, looking as good as new.
George separates the keychains into genres. He has a bunch of retro advertising keychains from the likes of Coca Cola and McDonald’s, and of course a Maltese keychain collection wouldn’t be complete without a vintage Kinnie keychain! There’s a religious section and even a politics section, where keychains emblazoned with Dom Mintoff’s portrait sit side by side with General Workers Union keychains. George insists he doesn’t mind what party they’re from, they’re all welcome to join in.
Any good keychain collection has to have a country section, and George owns keychains from all across the world. His family always bring him one back whenever they go abroad. The Maltese keychain section is impressive, “We make very good keychains in Malta” George assured us. The luzzu is a favourite when it comes to souvenir keychains, and of course, our now defunct yet classic favourite—the Maltese yellow bus—gets a lot of love for its iconic look.
In the religious section you’ll find every sort of decorative cross you can ever dream of. Saints and nuns hang along with miniature rosary bead keychains. George points out a tiny but thick book encased in a beautifully detailed casing, no larger than the size of half a matchbox. “That’s a Bible” he explains. The print is so small that it’s impossible to read with the naked eye but it’s all there. The one next to it is a Torah, the Jewish Holy Book.
It’s quite incredible to see how varied the keychain world really is. There’s a keychain for just about everything. People sometimes contact George to offer him their own smaller collections to put towards his cause, excited to help out. “I always thank them and I sincerely appreciate every single keychain I get given” he tells us.
He’s even started a Facebook page to document his impressive collection, and regularly posts updates and new additions for his followers to see. The internet has helped him get in contact with keychain collectors from all across the globe, and he’s made friends with a record breaking keychain collector in India, with a whopping 40,000 keychains under his belt.
Unlike George, most other collectors keep their keychains packed away in boxes, which George doesn’t believe in. His family living and dining room aren’t always in “museum mode” unfortunately—the boards are usually kept upstairs. “Space is a big problem” he explains, “but there’s more interaction when they’re out on display.”
George isn’t about to break the Maltese record just yet however, as he’s recently found out that there’s another Maltese man with an even bigger collection of keychains, rumoured to be around the 6,000 mark. Asked whether there’s any rivalry between them both, George tells Lovin Malta that it’s far from that, in fact, they’ve made contact and are set to meet up next month to swap duplicates.
“That means I’ll be making his collection larger, but it’s fine. At around 65 he’s older than me, I have about 20 years to catch up with him. I believe that I will eventually have the biggest keychain collection in Malta. I’m not afraid of any number” he says with a shy smile. “I’m there to reach it.”
That’s the spirit! With that sort of love and dedication, we don’t doubt it. It’s great to see how collecting something so simple can bring so much joy and relaxation, we wish George all the best of luck and hope to see him reach his goals in the future!
Keep up to date with George and The Great Keychain Collection by following his page on Facebook!