Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Why Do People become Collectors?

Everyone collects something, the hobby of collecting includes the seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloging, displaying, storing, and maintaining of whatever items are of interest to the individual collector. Some collectors are generalists, accumulating all different types of items from all over the world. Others focus on a subtopic within their area of interest, anything from Victorian Postage Stamps to first edition Star Wars toys and many more besides.

But why? What about the human condition compels people to seek out and collect these items.

Psychologist Mark Mckinley who wrote a paper on the Psychology of Collecting states: “It does seem that growing up as “kids,” we all collected something we made into a hobby. It could have begun with baseball cards, marbles, or stamps. Then it moved on: to antique books, Longaberger baskets, state quarters, or Atmos clocks. For others it was collecting the really unusual that worked best for them. Indeed, some collectors even collect collecting guides!”

For many people collecting things allows people to define themselves and their identity, to relive their childhood and in some cases this nostalgia connects them to a happier period in their life.

There are however several reasons why people collect, Dr Mckinley divides collectors into several groups who collect for reasons including:

  • Pure enjoyment (Collecting can make them happier)
  • Investment (Buying with a view to profit from resale in the future)
  • Preservation of the past (Acquiring objects of historic significance)
  • Social inclusion (Joining communities and forming friendships)
  • Prestige or fame (Acquiring rare, fascinating or unique collections that have a wider interest)
  • Self identity fulfilment (Defining part of their personalities by what they collect)

Many collectors will have several of these motivations driving their passion, whether it is the happiness from adding a new find to the collection, the excitement of the hunt, the social camaraderie when sharing their collection with other collectors. Not forgetting that it is often these dedicated people we have to thank, for some of the most spectacular and historic collections of human artefacts.

Researchers cannot agree on whether people who collect things are happier and more balanced, but if you ask any collector their enthusiasm and passion for what they collect nearly always shines through and they undoubtedly see it as a positive in their life.

Collectors take the up most pride in their collections, often displaying them prominently in their houses and if they are particularly spectacular or important, lending them to the worlds greatest galleries, museums and libraries. Understanding the fulfilment and pride people gain from displaying their collections is part of the reason we produce our range of display cases, allowing a collector to showcase their collections beautifully, whilst protecting and safeguarding them from ageing or damage.

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