It Started With a Winnie-the-Pooh Telephone … and Ended in the Guinness World Records Book
New book details collecting odyssey of world record holder for the largest collection of Winnie-the-Pooh memorabilia
WAUKESHA, Wis. - May 31, 2023 - PRLog -- Deb Hoffmann was obsessed. She had spotted the Winnie-the-Pooh phone some time ago. She considered buying it. Now, it was gone. Sold.
She had to have it … and nothing would stop her. Little did she know where the quest would lead.
Hoffmann, the Guinness World Records holder for largest collection of Winnie-the-Pooh memorabilia, tracked down the phone. Its photo is in her new book, "How It All Began," which recollects the fun, foibles, travels and adventures of building a 23,000+ item collection.
Hoffmann found the Pooh phone through newspaper ads placed in several major cities. The year was 1988. She had been collecting telephones. She shifted gears, and honed in on Winnie-the-Pooh. The rest is history … leading to her first inclusion in Guinness World Records in 2008.
At its essence, "How It All Began" is about people – those who donate treasured collections or other items to Hoffmann, or continually watch for the rare, elusive items she doesn't already have. It's about experiences - ones she and her husband, Gary, would not have had if not for collecting.
"The story of my collection isn't about the items themselves – it's about the incredible people I've been so fortunate to meet on this journey," Hoffmann, 58, said. "The other important part is about following your passion - whatever it is - and not being surprised when it takes you someplace you never expected."
"How It All Began" recounts highlights of Hoffmann's collecting odyssey, a hobby that has taken her across the U.S. and to several foreign countries:
- Her first Winnie-the-Pooh item, a stuffed bear given by her father when she was 2
- early passing out from heat exhaustion while playing Winnie-the-Pooh in costume at Sears
- The nine-year search for her personal Holy Grail: a 1980s Disney Park walkaround costume
- Her many trips to White River, Ontario, to emcee the annual Winnie's Hometown Festival
- Renting an 18-foot box truck to drive from Wisconsin to Ohio to pick up a 2,000-item donated collection
- A visit to her personal Mecca: the Cotchford Farm home of A. A. Milne, author of the Winnie-the-Pooh books
- The detailed, exhaustive process of applying to the Guinness World Records Book
Hoffmann admits to occasionally acting as a therapist. She comforts people struggling with emotion over parting with items they love. Sometimes the donors are moving, and don't have room in their new homes. Others are aging, and don't want their belongings sold for pennies in a thrift store. Other scenarios occur, too - such as a woman in the throes of divorce, who worried her soon-to-be ex-husband would destroy her precious Poohs.
More stories that resonate involve Hoffmann's "Pooh Peeps," a small army always on the hunt for Pooh items. In one case, a friend of a friend brought back 150 figurines and items from Shanghai. In another, a salesperson from a local business toted a Pooh music box all the way from Hong Kong.
The 300 pages of "How It All Began" took Hoffmann two years to write. The experience proved cathartic for the "Crazy Pooh Lady," as she calls herself. It was a reminder of how personally enriching her collecting experience has been.
"This book tells a story of how my collection, despite its size, is not just 'stuff,'" she said. "It's opened the door to so many wonderful relationships, and people I otherwise never would have met. In a world that seems increasingly negative, it's a positive reminder that people are good at heart. Many will really extend themselves to help someone achieve a dream."
"How It All Started" is available in paperback and electronically on Amazon.com.
More information about Hoffmann, and her world-record Winnie the Pooh collection, is available at www.mostpooh.com or www.youtube.com/