Have you ever told someone about your collection and they seemed to not get why you did it? I thought it would be very interesting to see collecting from the point of view of a non-collector.
I also think this gives a lot of insight into why collecting and antiquing has greatly declined with generation X. Many of the collecting clubs and associations I belong to discuss the decline of new collectors and how to spark interest back into this past time at almost every meeting.
Collecting from a Non-Collectors Point of View
I never really understood collecting anything really. I mean, when I was building and repairing computers back in the day I would collect hard drives with different interfaces, keyboards that were of the PS/2, serial, and eventually USB variety, plus various other PC parts. I think I even had some MAC RAM on hand for the one time I upgraded one of those MAC CRT-looking things.
With that said, I never really wanted to keep them on display. Like, the storage devices changed in cool ways over the years, and perhaps I could have took a component out of each my PCs to put on display, I just wasn’t into collecting for that purpose. I’m still not.
Collecting things as a kid
I did so as a kid. I would fan out some money of all denominations when I was making the big bucks as a paperboy and put it behind a picture frame. That ended quickly when my mom “borrowed” some for BINGO. I would also collect the air plane and car models that I built until I broke them too much from moving so often. But these days, to me, stuff is stuff is stuff. And it often just leads to clutter. And as they say, a cluttered home makes for a cluttered mind.
Someone gave away all my He-Man, wrestling figures, Insectitron toys (I think they’re called), my transformers and go-bots, etc. that I had as a kid. I probably just would of hawked them though when I first learned of eBay.
Some of the dinky cars actually made it to my kids though, and that is kind of on the nostalgic side, I’m not going to lie.
I remember that there was a collection of dinosaurs at the local Biway when I was a kid. They came in 6 or 7 different colors. And my sister wanted them all. Eventually she got them all, and I suppose the build up was probably exciting, it was a bit of a let down too I’m sure when it faded. I see most collecting like getting all colors of the dinosaur.
I’ll admit, I was also a card collector to fit in with my friends in early high school. I was never really a sports fan but I did bet Pro-Line or Sport Select, whatever it is called. I really miss the days where could bet basketball ties. I digress.
I got taken advantage of in the whole card trading thing, and if the guys weren’t stealing from me, they were stealing from the stores that sell the stuff. It wasn’t for me, any of it, so I sold my lot for peanuts and moved on.
I did however go in and “play the lottery” now and again. What I would do, on my own, is look through the latest Price Guide and find out what current year card sets had high value cards. I would then buy a foil pack for $1.00 or $2.00, sometimes more, and I would open it up hoping for the “lucky ticket.”
And I hit the jackpot more than once. It could probably still be a lucrative “lottery” system today, providing you have a buyer. The guy who ran the store used to buy cards at 50-75% value on the spot most times. He was still investing himself.
Sometimes I would “play the odds” and hang onto the high valued cards but it was all just gimmicky (when collecting cards other than sports primarily, like cartoon cards) and sometimes the card would stop being worth the $50 or $60 it was valued at the month before. It would then become a “common” card worth maybe a nickel! D’oh!
Today, some of my old friends still carry their card collection from house to house when they move, most only having a full set maybe worth $25 if in mint condition. Life is funny.
Collecting salt and pepper shakers
My aunt had a massive amount of salt and pepper shakers. I mean massive. There was a need for custom shelves for all of these shakers.
People would bring them from all over the world but most were really “Made in China.” I was sometimes around when it came time for moving and I would have to help pack, clean, unpack, and re-shelf.
It got old very fast. For my aunt as well. The cats would be constantly knocking them off to the point they would go missing or have the wrong match. Heck, sometimes even two peppers from different sets sat together.
What started out as a modest collection turned into a dust mite nightmare after people figured out how easy it was to buy for Aunt Judy!
Trying out an eBay business
Very popular these days when knowing the value of a lot of things like antiques and collectibles, is to go “finding,” “hunting,” or “picking” them. Then, once found you hope that the owner will part with it for less than it is worth, or if it is something that requires some “value add,” a tidy profit can be made.
There are reality shows abound on this topic. It’s a bizarre world. The collectors pick. Then eventually, their collection gets picked, and on and on. Often the items are never on display, it just serves knowing that one “has it.” I don’t get it.
I can see buying something that there is a “real” value for, but requires a value add service. Then you can often fix it up, and sell to someone that is need of it for their collection. But, unless it’s collected to sit on for profit later, I don’t get it really.
Collecting for nostalgia
Sure, I have witnessed the nostalgia effect for collecting, but it’s fleeting to be sure. And I get family heirlooms especially if they are seeds, stories, conversation pieces, recipes, and the like, but most I think are just a collection of different colored dinosaurs. I got the blue one, the red one, the green one, the orange one, oh wait, now there is a spotted one!?
Why my old boss would collect handkerchiefs for example, is case in point I feel. Or perhaps I’m just missing something. I get that if not for profit it is probably a personal thing, but I know how collections make me feel. In the long run, they’re really not worth it. To me at least.
My friend just mentioned “conversation piece.” And yeah, I can see that, but I usually only really need one for that, not every color.
Useful post and great responses. I also like “Collecting from a Non-Collectors Point of View” for the title.