I can’t figure out what it is about collecting that leads many of us to such excess. My sister, the Amazing Mary, collects dolls — has maybe a thousand of them — from high end collectibles to little hand-sewn sock dolls and nearly everything in between. She was always into dolls. Always. My baby dolls were long ago lost in basement floods and clean-outs — hers now grace her dolls’ shelves mingling with later finds. My Barbie’s hair was blond — and the coiffure lasted only days before she was dragged by her hair into the Amazon jungles, into skydiving, shooting the rapids in the bathroom sink, and dozens of other adventures that left her looking like she had a few miles on her. Mary’s — while played with constantly — always kept her curly black bangs and smooth sides.
I held off on collecting things for a long time — mostly collected things one used — too much yarn, lots of fabric, every herb and spice I might ever need. I stayed away from gathering large numbers of the same or related objects in order to what — let’s be real here — in order to PLAY with them. Arrange and rearrange, categorize, compartmentalize, compare, and become attached to.
But these days I’m an unrepentant collector (okay, I do try to re-sell most of these things at a profit, but…) of pocketbooks, buttons, beads, a variety of glassware, coin banks, silk scarves, vintage rhinestone jewelry, stones and crystals, and I’m sure there are more things. Oh yes, bird-themes — note paper, statues, paintings, little neat things with birds.
What do we gain, internally, from this urge to brings like things together — and into our possession? Part of it is certainly the aesthetic experience — the colors and textures, shapes, lines, form and function. It’s BEAUTIFUL. Some of it remains acquisitiveness. It’s MINE. Others want it and value it. I outbid 8 people for this X — therefore I won the tangible prize of the object and the less tangible warmth of the win.
The solidness of an object comforts. Here’s something that takes space in your mind, and in your home. There’s a parallel in-out thing going on. A place where the reflection of self is somewhat accurate. A mirror of my tastes and desires, as well as my expertise and good judgment. Am I collecting only the best? Am I collecting some esoteric side line on a common theme? Am I getting great bargains because I KNOW more than you?
I’d love to know what others are thinking about why they collect — or don’t.