Charlotte Lee, 40 – an assistant professor in UW’s Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering – has 5,239 unique rubber ducks and sets the new world record for the Largest Rubber Duck Collection.

Charlotte Lee has been collecting rubber ducks since 1996. She reports that her collection is growing more slowly these days and cites her selectiveness as a major factor.

She has dedicated the entire small basement of the Fremont condo she’s lived in since December 2008 to her “rubber duckies.”

It took her husband – once a reluctant supporter, now an avid duck hunter – months to put up the shelves and cabinet that line the walls down there. “I like the ducks, he likes the hunt,” Lee said. “It’s a good partnership.”

The collection started in 1996 and began as gifts from friends to augment the rubber ducks they noticed she had in her bathroom.

In her travels all over the world, she picks up the ducks as souvenirs. Friends still give them to her as gifts.

She’s got a cabinet of the classic rubber ducks, but also thousands of every shape, style and size. Some glow in the dark, some smell like strawberries or lemons, some are big enough for children to ride on, some have eyes that bug out with a squeeze, some even play off popular culture: the i-Duck and i-Duck Nano; or Pond, James Pond.

She’s starting to run out of space, so she’s researching museums that might be able to house part of her collection.

Charlotte Lee has earned her place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the World’s Largest Rubber Duck Collection in 2003, when her collection weighed in with 1,439 unique rubber ducks.

The 2007 Guinness World Record for World’s Largest Rubber Duck Collection stood at 2,583 unique rubber ducks, and was awarded to Charlotte Lee.