The Joy of Collecting Everything, Antiques, Vintage, Trash and Treasures
Here you'll discover the reasons why we collect things, famous people and their unusual collections, 8 tips to start your own hobby collecting, and where to find things for your collection.
Collecting satisfies our emotional, aesthetic and intellectual needs. Whether it is an occasional pastime or an all-consuming passion, collecting is a hobby that opens doors to new worlds. As a collector myself, I know firsthand that it can be a happy, positive and enriching experience. There is no limit to what can be collected, or to the intensity of the pursuit. If you're a collector and are passionate about your stuff, you'll enjoy reading about and seeing the diverse collections that range from the ordinary to the outlandish. And for a novice to collecting, the excitement of the hobby will be your reward.
Guide to Collecting Toys
No matter what people collect, from ceremonial pottery to celebrity memorabilia, the impulse to hoard has been part of human nature throughout history. The phenomena of collecting for enjoyment began long ago, when the Dutch of the Renaissance era created cabinets of curiosities, which were rooms stocked with small antiques and unusual specimens. For the next few centuries, the rich and bourgeois of Europe collected art and antiquities, books, and specimens from the natural world.
Why Do People Collect Things?
Collecting fills our need to understand, to share and to create. Collecting starts out as a hobby, but it can become an all-consuming passion. What is it that drives people to possess objects, even those with no conceivable use?
We collect for knowledge, to learn about things like rocks, gems or nature.
The Psychology of Collecting
- We collect to understand history, which explains the collections of coins, Civil War firearms and antique furniture.
- We collect memorabilia of our life, travel souvenirs and sports items. This explains the novelty salt and pepper shakers in Grandma's curio cabinet from every state in the union.
- We collect to recapture our childhood, whether we played with plush Beanie Babies, Star Wars figures or miniature doll houses.
- We collect to express our appreciation of beauty. Our eyes are drawn to porcelain, bronzes, netsuke, and other objets d'art, or old manuscripts.
- We collect to make a statement about who we are. Whether it's Beatles memorabilia or snuff boxes, we identify with our collections.
- We collect because we are driven by instinct to hoard things out of insecurity. This might explain the collection of teddy bears, pocket knives or beer bottles.
- We collect because we believe subconsciously in the power of artifacts to keep us safe.
- We collect out of a deep-seated need to own and possess things, an opportunity for material consumption in a consumer society.
- We collect to bring a sense of stability into the present, to exercise control over part of our lives, and to relieve the stress and turmoil of modern society.
- We collect from a sense of nostalgia for simpler times.
- We collect in the hope of striking it rich with a rare and precious find.
- We collect to display and decorate our homes, to affirm our good taste.
- We collect with the expectation of reselling our items for a profit.
- We collect because we appreciate the handiwork, craftsmanship and design of finely made objects.
- We collect to stay in touch with historical events.
- We collect out of fascination and curiosity about the ephemeral and exotic world outside us.
- We collect because we love shopping sprees and the lure of the hunt.
- Some psychologists say we collect to relieve the tension between id and ego. Other psycholosits say collecting is an experiment in self-healing of a childhood trauma or anxiety.
Famous Collectors and Their Collections
Everyone is more or less a collector. It starts out small. You pick up an inexpensive souvenir on a family vacation to remember the event. Then you seek out similar items on your travels and, before you know it, you have a collection of marbles, thimbles, postcards, matchbooks, magnets, stickers, figurines, coins, stamps, dolls, and whatever. Famous people were also collectors. Here are just a few of them.
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The psychologist Sigmund Freud was an art collector obsessed with antiquity, beauty, myth and archaeology. His private museum contains two thousand statues, vases, reliefs, busts, fragments of papyrus, rings, precious stones and prints.
- Captain Cook collected tribal artifacts during his his Pacific voyages while he looked for the Northwest Passage. The pieces he collected are now owned by many museums around the world.
- The Imperial Habsburg Collections of art, jewels and carriages are a big tourist attraction in Vienna.
- Thomas Jefferson turned his entrance hall at Monticello into an eclectic museum for his collections of maps of the world, European paintings and sculptures, and Native American objects from the Lewis and Clark expedition. He displayed his model of an Egyptian pyramid along with mastodon bones from Kentucky.
- Sir Thomas Phillipps, who lived from 1792 to 1872, spent his life collecting books. He believed that he was meant to own one copy of every book in the world, to preserve them for posterity.
- Austrian Franz Joseph Gall, who thought that you could understand a person's personality, mental skill and moral faculties on the basis of the external shape of their skull, lined his walls with row upon row of skulls.
- Alex Shear is an Emmy Award-winning producer and director who has amassed more than a hundred thousand relics of nineteen-fifties America. His collection ranges from transistor radios which look like Velveeta packages to baseball cards to Pez dispensers to Cabbage Patch dolls to various 7Up bottle designs. It now has its own museum in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
- The Smithsonian Institution, founded with a bequest from English scientist James Smithson, has so many collections of memorabilia that it is called our national attic.
- The Ashmolean Museum in England was completed in 1683 to house the cabinet of curiosities collected by Elias Ashmole. His interests included antique coins, books, engravings, geological specimens, and zoological specimens, one of which was the stuffed body of the last dodo bird ever seen in Europe.
- American billionaires like JP Morgan and William Randolph Hearst bought European heritage for their collections. Hearst Castle is one of the famous tourist stops in California.
- Painter Andy Warhol was an avid collector and patron of flea markets. Warhol's collections included airplane menus, unpaid invoices, pizza dough, pornographic pulp novels, newspapers, stamps, wigs, supermarket flyers, cookie jars, and a mummified foot, among other eccentricities.
8 Tips to Start Collecting
A collection can be anything that you bring together into a group. There is no limit to what you can collect. Look around you; perhaps you have a collection and aren't even aware of it. Here are a few tips to get you started collecting.
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- Collect what interests you, what you enjoy, and what is relatively easy to find.
- Naturally you want to stay within your budget, but you can expand your collection by selling off appreciated items to buy more.
- Seek out items in good condition with no repairs.
- Be wary of reproductions and fakes.
- You probably know that an item is more desirable if it comes with its original packaging.
- As with fine art, the best strategy is to collect what you like without regard to possible appreciation. If it goes up in value, fine, but don't plan on it.
- The values of antiques and collectibles rise and fall over time as items gain and lose popularity.
- The price of things depends on their location, too. You'll find that antique Southern furniture is highly sought after in the South; California pottery prices are higher in California; and English silver is more valuable when you sell it in England.
Where to Find Things for Your Collection
The stuff you find stashed in family basements and garages may be worth more than you think. Browse the tag sales, flea markets, thrift shops and secondhand stores. Local auctions and estate sales are resources for collectors, too. There are hundreds of books on collectibles and at least one price guide for every type of collectible you can name. The most renowned price guide for antiques and collectibles is Schroeder's Antiques Price Guide, with more than 50,000 items in 500 categories and numerous pictures. The Flea Market Trader is another price resource to help you identify and value your collectibles. Collector Books in Paducah Kentucky is famous for its list of titles in the collectibles field. Maine Antique Digest covers the latest auctions and classified listings. The popular television show Antiques Roadshow also keeps collectors up to date on values. When all else fails, an antiques appraiser or auctioneer may be able to help.
Collecting Model Cars
Online auctions, like Ebay, are a popular source of items for collectors. And Ebay provides collectors of nearly anything with a real value, a price that someone actually paid for the item. Now you see folks at garage sales checking out Ebay prices on their cell phones! Some traders both buy and resell on Ebay, to make a profit on their collectibles. Other people buy and sell on online classified sites like Craig's List. Major auction houses like Christie's and Sotheby's handle high-end antiques and collectibles. Once you get started, you can take part in swap meets, join a collectors club on Yahoo groups and shop the collectibles shows.
What Do People Collect
There is no limit to the things people will collect, from priceless antiquities to just plain trash. And you can specialize within each category. If you collect coins, you can narrow your interest to colonial and early American coins, federal coins (half cents through gold double eagles), commemoratives, Proof and Mint sets, die varieties, private and territorial gold, tokens, the newest Presidential dollars, National Park quarters, bullion coins, or State Series Quarters.
Museums Are Collectors Too
Here's a tiny sample of the possibilities for your collection: early snapshots, phone cards, moon rocks and NASA booty, Pez dispenders, Arts and Crafts tiles, Zulu baskets, buttons, marbles, fishing lures, oak furniture from the Sears and Roebuck catalogue, American-made Damascus knives,early cell phones, toy robots, Lladro figurines, carnival glass, Depression glass, Bakelite, Beanie Babies, McDonald's toys, Matchbox cars, early digital watches, bone buttons, fishing lures, old watering cans, Mid-century furniture, 1960's aluminum ware,
costume jewelry from the 20th century, vintage sunglasses, sugar crushers, gambling paraphernalia,
silver jewelry from Taxco, art pottery, Vanity Fair illustrations, carnival glass, Hummel figurines,
vernacular photography, Swatch watches, Elvis Presley memorabilia, packaging and advertising,
books of all types and times, miniatures, the strange and the exotic,
milk bottles, figural matchbooks, buttons, erasers, cigar rings, pictorial seed packets,
sports equipment, Native American artifacts; dolls and dollhouses,
branded merchandise like Mickey Mouse, Cinderella and Superman,
natural specimens, taxidermy,
stamps, coins, phonecards, shells, leaves, seeds, badges, buttons, refrigerator magnets, candy wrappers, scrapbooks,
trading cards, models, insects, memorabilia, rocks and fossils, stamps, vinyl records, claw-foot bathtubs, architectural salvage, souvenir postcards, vintage cookbooks, seashells, books, and paint-by-number paintings.
I wish you much success in life.
The Life Coach
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