Mary Bray Spence of Gulfport, Florida began collecting crosses while recuperating from a serious accident. She asked friends who were traveling to send her crosses and continued to build the collection following her recovery. The collection includes a wide variety of crosses and crucifixes representing many countries, Christian traditions, and time periods. It also includes some items from other religions and examples of cross motifs used in non-religious items (such as military medals).
Many of the items were made to be worn for decorative or devotional purposes. These are made of materials such as gold, sterling silver, precious gems, semi-precious gems, ivory, hair, and wood. Other crosses were made for display or practical use. Materials include metals, wood, bone, glass, plastic, stone, and other media.