People have been collecting since the beginning of recorded history. In ancient times collecting objects was a way of showing wealth and power, and to some extent, this is still true today.
The earliest of collectors collected gold, silver, precious stones, statues and pottery. There have been many great collectors throughout history, the Medici’s of 13th century Italy were great collectors of art, as was Catherine the Great of Russia and so to was Peggy Guggenheim of the USA.
Art, however, is just one of the many things we collect, although art is probably one of the most expensive. We collect coins, stamps, comics, sportscards, magazines, books, autographs, even cars. Some of the more unusual collections involve 1st or 2nd World War vehicles, weapons and uniforms. People have been known to collect matchbooks/boxes, bottles and bottle caps, dolls, and let’s not forget Star Wars memorabilia, the list is almost endless.
Recently Oklahoma’s News on 6 reported that Stamp and Coin collecting are the top two collecting hobbies in the USA, closely followed by vinyl records, comics and sportscards. In the United Kingdom, the top ten collectables, as reported by the Daily Mirror newspaper, are Stamps, Coins, Fridge Magnets, Books, Vinyl Records, Postcards, Concert Tickets, Badges, Soft Toys and Magazines.
Collecting is not just restricted to the average person or royalty, it also includes stars from film and television. Notable collectors include Tom Hanks (Typewriters), Leonardo DiCaprio (Action Figures), Angelina Jolie (Antique Knives) and Elton John (Sunglasses, who reportedly owns 250,000).
There are only four things this author has ever collected, stamps, coins, comics and trading cards. I started collecting stamps when I was 7 years old which continued for over 20 years, it stopped when the stamps I required to complete sets, were more valuable than my car. I collected British pre-decimal coins for several years and only ceased collecting when the coins I was after were rare and very expensive. I still collect comics and trading cards (Topps Baseball Cards).
Baseball card collecting is primarily a North American hobby, but it is slowly spreading around the world. This hobby is usually the first hobby American children get into, they are more often than not introduced to the hobby by their fathers. Baseball is not the only sport in North America to have trading cards, Football, Ice Hockey, Basketball and now Soccer all have there fans and card collectors.
The collecting hobby can also be a social thing, groups of collectors can form societies in their neighbourhoods or towns, they can create online communities. Some of the biggest conventions around the world involve collecting, such as the National Sports Collector Convention, ComicCon and even a Doll Collecting convention. These events are a way of bringing the collectors together, people can network and even make lifelong friends. Not only can collecting be a hobby, but it can also be a business. You only have to google baseball cards, stamps etc. or search eBay or other auction sites to see that.
Collecting can be therapeutic or it can be an obsession, so what is the real reason behind why we collect?
From a purely psychological standpoint, it can relieve anxiety. Collecting can also connect us to our childhood, which is when collecting for most people started. Collecting can give psychological security by completing that part of the self one feels is missing and that then can give us meaning. However, collecting does have its dark side, it can produce hoarders, collecting for the sake of collecting. Hoarding is a pathological state of mind, not for enjoyment, but a compulsion.
The majority of today’s collectors do it for the enjoyment of it. We do it for fun, if you enjoy baseball, you might collect baseball cards, if you are a prolific reader, you might collect books. There only two limiting factors for collectors, cost and space, “Can I afford to buy that card?” or “Have I got the space to store those books?”.
Whatever your reason for collecting, be sensible and mostly, have fun. So happy collecting.