How Quirky is Berkeley? The Hamm-sty on McGee

1735 McGee Street. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee St. Photo: John Storey

The home of the Hamm-sty, 1735 McGeeSt., is a small, neat house in neighborhood of small, neat houses in the northern flats. Throughout the fairly immaculate garden and on the porch there are a lot of pig figures. Rusty pigs and ceramic pigs. A little farm scene behind a fence with a miniature windmill. You don’t see them all at first. Keep looking. Pigs everywhere.

Dianne Hamm has lived in Berkeley her entire life, 60 years of which she has spent collecting pig figurines and ephemera. She got started when her grandmother gave her a stuffed Steiff pig. She has never looked back.

1735 McGee Street. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee St. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee Street. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee St. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee Street. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee St. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee Street. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee St. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee Street. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee St. Photo: Tom Dalzell
1735 McGee Street. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee St. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee Street. Photo: John Storey
1735 McGee St. Photo: John Storey

Hamm is a member of the Happy Pig Collectors Club.

Diane insideL1330018
Dianne Hamm. Photo: Colleen Neff

Hamm shops on eBay. She trades with collectors. She goes to shows. She buys collections. People come to her. More pigs and more pigs. As for her consumption of the product, she confesses to liking a good pork sausage and smoked pork chops, but on the whole avoids ham and would rather have a piece of beef.


She estimates that she has 5,000 pieces in her collection. Not many are outside. Most are inside, in her living room and kitchen.

1137 McGee Street. Photo: Colleen Neff
1137 McGee St. Photo: Colleen Neff
1137 McGee Street. Photo: Colleen Neff
1137 McGee St. Photo: Colleen Neff
1137 McGee Street. Photo: Colleen Neff
1137 McGee St. Photo: Colleen Neff
1137 McGee Street. Photo: Colleen Neff
1137 McGee St. Photo: Colleen Neff

Hamm says that the neighborhood children are guardians of her pigs. They report missing figures and suspicious activities, and they bring found stray pig figures to her.

Her pigs make her happy. And it makes me happy that she shares a small part of her passion with the street, giving us a glimpse of a wonderful, obsessive collection. It is a top Quirky Berkeley destination for quirky-loving children.

Tom Dalzell, a labor lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to share all the whimsical objects he has captured with his iPhone. The site now has more than 8,600 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-year resident muses on what it all means. 

For a fuller treatment of benches in front of Berkeley homes, see Dalzell’s Quirky Berkeley post.

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