Tag Archives: why do people collect things

Why Do We Collect Things?

alex atkins bookshelf triviaJames Halperin is a professional rare coin dealer and the founder of Heritage Auctions, the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. In an essay for The Intelligent Collector, Halperin answers one of the most frequent questions he gets asked: why do people collect things? Halperin believes collecting is a basic human instinct that has been intensified by centuries of natural selection: “Those of our ancient ancestors who managed to accumulate scare objects may have been more prone to survive long enough to bear offspring.” That is to say, acquisition of rare items led to wealth that allowed someone to have and care for more children. But collecting is not just an instinctive behavior, observes Halperin, it can be a combination of some or all of these other reasons:
Knowledge and learning
Relaxation and stress reduction
Personal pleasure (eg, pride of ownership)
Social interaction (eg, sharing knowledge and pleasure with other collectors)
Recognition from other collectors
Competitive challenge
The desire to possess and control a small part of the world
Connection to history
Accumulation and diversification of wealth
Competitive challenge

And collecting diligently over many decades has its rewards. Halperin shares a story of a friend who with a modest income, who studied coins and built an extensive collection. He even mortgaged his house to be able to travel and purchase rare coins. When he passed away, “with no apparent regrets”, his coin collection was sold at auction for more than $30 million dollars, benefiting his family beyond their dreams. For example one Canadian coin that he bought for $400 in 1954, sold for $345,000 in 1999.

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For further reading: http://www.ha.com/intelligent-collector/why-do-we-collect-things.s?article=collect

Bizarre Things That People Collect

alex atkins bookshelf cultureAlthough television shows about hoarding are fascinating and horrifying at the same time, they do open the door to the intriguing world of collecting. Of course, hoarders give collectors a bad name. Whereas the hoarder literally creates a rubbish pile, the collector carefully acquires, organizes, classifies, catalogs, maintains, and shows off his or her orderly prized acquisitions. And why do people collect things? Psychologists believe that collecting helps healthy people (i.e., people without brain trauma) ease their insecurity or anxiety about life or perhaps more specifically, losing their identity (or part of their identity). Collecting allows them to either relive their childhood or make a connection to a happier period in their life (nostalgia). At bottom, collecting allows the collector to keep the past forever in the present.

Just as fascinating about why people collect is what they collect. Just visit Ebay and browse the extensive website: if you can think of it, there is a seller somewhere in the world that is selling that item — proof of the age-old adage that states that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Another way to get a glimpse of the things that people collect, is to take a look at a book catalog. You will find some common collectibles, like postcards and vinyl records, as well as some bizarre ones, like condoms and oyster cans. Here is a sampling of books for sale — running eight pages long — in a recent catalog for Edward R. Hamilton Bookseller, a discount bookstore based in Connecticut:

Record Album Price Guide: 8th Edition

A Very Vintage Christmas

Antique Pocket Mirrors

Candy Containers for Collectors

Antique Mining Equipment and Collectibles

Rag Darlings: Dolls from the Feedsack Era

Collecting Black Memorabilia: A Picture Price Guide

Paris Postcards: The Golden Age

Peep-Machine Pin-Ups: 1940-1950s Mutoscope Art

Remember Your Rubbers: Collecting Condom Containers

Collectible Rabbit [Figures]

Catholic Collectibles

The Art of the Decal

Door to Door Collectibles: Salves, Lotions, Pills & Potions from W. R. Rawleigh

Purrrrfection: The Cat [Art Objects Depicting Cats]

Sea Glass Seeker

Barbie All Dolled Up: Celebrating 50 Years of Barbie

Doll Kitchens: 1800-1980

Pepsi Memorabilia: Then and Now

Hopalong Cassidy: King of the Cowboy Merchandise

An Unauthorized Guide to Pillsbury Doughboy Collectibibles

The Pocket Guide to Coin-op Vending Machines

Everything Elephants: A Collector’s Pictorial Encyclopedia

Antique Advertising: Country Store Signs and Products

Collectible California Raisins

Oyster Cans

Collectible Aunt Jemim Handbook & Value Guide

Canes from the 17th to 20th Century

McDonald’s Pre-Happy Meal Toys from the 50s, 60s and 70s

The Encyclopedia of Coca-Cola Trays

Star Trek Collectibles: Classic Series, Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager

Photographica: The Fascination with Classic Cameras

Complete Price Guide to Watches 2017

Elsie the Cow and Borden’s Collectibles

The Collector’s World of M&M’s

Cracker Jack: The Unauthorized Guide to Advertising Collectibles

Raggedy Ann & Andy Collectibles

Pez Collectibles

The Shirley Temple Collector’s Guide

Peanuts Gang Collectibles

The Official Casino Chip Price Guide, 3rd Edition

Glass Bells From Around the World

Christmas Revisited [Christmas Collectibles]

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For further reading: www.hamiltonbook.com
This Day in Collecting History: A Year of Art, Memorabilia & Other Treasures Sold by Michael and Marla McLeod
The World’s Most Expensive Watches by Ariel Adams
Foundations of Coin Collecting by Alan Herbert
The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World by James Barron
Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places by Rebecca Barry



Words for Collectors

atkins-bookshelf-wordsPaul Dickson, a prolific author of books on words, has been collecting words for decades. The most common form of describing a person who collects something specific is to say: “He is a stamp collector” or “She is a postcard collector.” But to a word collector and lover, like Dickson, what is the fun in that? Dickson, a self-confessed lexiconophilist, has even coined a term for the collection of collections: “philophily.” Unfortunately for Dickson, that word never made it into the Oxford English Dictionary. Below is a collection of some words that are indeed part of the English lexicon to describe different types of collectors, no matter how rare:

arctophile: teddy bears
bibliopegist: fine book bindings
bibliophilist: books
cartophile: baseball cards
coleopterist: beetles
conchologist: sea shells
copocelphilist: key rings
deltiologist: postcards
dipterist: flies
dologist: bird eggs
lepidopterist: butterflies and moths
lexiconophilist: dictionaries
notaphilist: banknotes
numismatist: coins and banknotes
oologist: bird eggs
philatelist: stamps
philographist: autographs
phillumenist: matchboxes or matchbook labels
phonophile: vinyl records
plangonologist: dolls
scripophilist: old bond and share certificates
tegestologist: beer coaster
vectorist: subway tokens
vexillologist: flags or banners

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For further reading: Words by Paul Dickson, Delacorte Press (1982)

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