After thinking a little more about my elephant collection, I realize there is a reason why I responded to them so favorably.
When my family left Latvia in 1944 during World War II, we fled with just a few of our belongings in a horse-drawn wagon. There wasn't much we could take along that wasn't absolutely necessary for our survival.
During those years, none of us farm kids had many toys. One of my prized possessions was a set of three very tiny porcelain elephants. They originally came mounted atop a big chocolate bar, which were a birthday present from my godmother, Marta, who lived in a nearby town.
To a little farm girl, it was an exotic treasure, reminiscent of fairy tales. So it came to pass that those little elephants accompanied me all the way to Germany, where we spent six years as war refugees until we had a chance to immigrate to the United States in 1950.
Somehow during the intervening years, I lost two of the little elephants, so that by 1980s I had only one left. But I still have it, and it sits on the center of the shelf, as is fitting to the one that started it all.
The numbers in my collection have forced me to be selective. As I travel in different countries, I limit myself to one elephant per country, and it has to be very small as shelf space is at a premium.
My collection includes elephants from my world travels, as well as being gifts from friends and relatives. No matter which country I have visited, I could always find an elephant. Now that I'm "elephant-conscious," I can spot one all the way across the store.
It surprises me that elephant figurines can be found in so many places, like South America and even up north in Latvia.
Will I ever have too many elephants? Highly unlikely.
Editor's note: Register photo editor J.L. Sousa continues with his photo series on the world of Napa Valley collectors and the phenomenal diversity of things they collect. If you collect, contact Sousa at email@example.com.