Establishing a Collection Worthy of a Guinness World Record

I’ve had the honour of holding the Guinness World Record (GWR) for the largest Winnie the Pooh and Friends collection since 2008. I earned my first record with 3,891 unique items in my collection. Today, my record stands at 23,623.

I didn’t start out acquiring Winne the Pooh memorabilia to establish a record-setting collection. One day, after seeing my display room, a friend commented that he bet I had the most Pooh items in the world. I had to find out.

Starting the Process
After visiting the Guinness World Records website, I learned the process for applying to set and break a record. To begin, you must have your proposed record submission approved. If there is a current record category, you can apply to attempt to break that existing record. If a record hasn’t yet been established, Guinness World Records needs to approve the attempt, making sure it is achievable, breakable, measurable, and open to everyone. Many of the current 65,000 records are listed on their website.

In both cases, approved records must meet certain standardized application guidelines.

Key Guidelines
Two of the key guidelines to set a record for a collection are ensuring each piece of the collection is 1) unique and 2) commercially available. I couldn’t make 1,000 Pooh sweaters and count them as 1,000. Likewise, if I purchased 1,000 of the same mug, it would only count as one item.

Each item must be photographed and documented with as much detail as possible to prove its uniqueness. It took nearly a year for me to document my collection the first time I applied for the world record. Every time I opened a drawer or closet, I found another item to count.

Adjudication and Witnesses
You can request a Guinness Word Records adjudicator to witness your attempt. There is a cost for in-person adjudication. You can also opt to pay for Priority Evidence Review which takes about five working days. Otherwise, evidence review can take up to 12 weeks. Annually, GWR receives over 50,000 inquiries.

In my case, I chose the free option and asked two local people who fit the criteria to act as witnesses. Each item was viewed by the adjudicators and compared to the photo and description in the database. I use the software Browse My Collection for cataloguing.

Once the adjudicators have verified a collection, photos and supporting evidence are sent to GWR for verification. Then, you cross your fingers and wait patiently to get the email from GWR that you’re officially AMAZING and hold the title for having the largest collection. Shortly after, you will receive a certificate in the mail celebrating your title.

Beyond The Record
I’ve broken my own record several times. The excitement of receiving the certificate never gets old. I am proud to have set the initial record and continue to add to my collection daily. There is no monetary compensation for setting a record. To me, holding the title is payment enough.

Since setting the record, my husband, Gary, and I have met so many wonderful people and gone places we probably wouldn’t have visited if it weren’t for the collection. Holding the title has really changed from collecting “things” to collecting “experiences”.

Personally, I don’t know what life would be like without collecting.

Editor’s note: Read Toy Tales’ Collector Spotlight with Deb Hoffmann from 2021.