Collectors and Their Collections

You are of an age to be collecting things, I know this because you are of an age to be reading this blog. And if this happens to be the first thing you’ve ever read, congratulations! There will be many more words to collect in your future.

My collecting of things started, and you awarded no points for guessing this, with books. Or rather with book. My first book, let’s say Green Eggs and Ham, was not a collection. One, because I did not acquire it deliberately and you cannot collect things without some level of intent. And two, because I drooled on it* and put it in my mouth and if you are going to collect a thing you shouldn’t drool on it, even if it’s like baby bibs or something, and you shouldn’t put it in your mouth unless you are collecting Olympic gold medals and then only the once.

Even a second book doesn’t make a collection. Even a series of books doesn’t make a collection. I owned 95% of the Animorphs books, but that was just because to read the next book I had to purchase it. Again, intent matters. The start of the collection and my collecting was Good Omens, but not the first time I bought it. It began with the second purchase. I had a well-used, dogeared, yellowed, and possibly slightly moist copy of Good Omens. I could have bought another paperback to replace it, but I opted to buy the hardback. I started collecting. It looked like this:

No author blurbs. No as seen on TVs. You had your choice of a black or white edition, but my decision was motivated by this being the one that had Crowley on the cover. I purchased it not because of the words that were inside (I already had those) but because of the vessel that held those words. I purchased it for the aesthetic.

Oh, there it is the word aesthetic. We’ve unlocked the second stage of the blog. My scientific** definitions of three types of collecting.

 1 Collections for display/aesthetics. Obviously art, spoons, and *shudder* Precious Moments can all be filed here. I read a lot of comics from the library, go figure. Then, I purchase some of them for my collection, not so that I can read them again (although I will), but so that I can have the nice versions of these books. It varies by publisher, but it’s always called something like a premiere, deluxe, absolute, or definitive edition. This lets me support the creators of works that I really enjoy and also establishes a very nice-looking shelf.

2 Collections for communal enjoyment/use. This might be nice dinner plates, instruments, or craft supplies. For me, it’s board games. I collect them to share with others and more than just purchasing them, I curate them. If a game isn’t fun or just not interesting anymore it leaves. That’s my distinction between board gaming as a hobby and board games as a collection. I don’t just want to play games with my friends, I want to offer them the best possible board gaming experience.

3 Collections for personal enjoyment. This is owning 170 copies of Shrek on VHS, model trains, every game on Steam, or a pile of Tulsa Shock memorabilia. This collection might well only be enjoyed by you, but for whatever reason it makes your brain buzz in the right way. I collect song covers: unorthodox, cross-genre, and unexpected covers. There’s still curation in this endeavor, I have to actually like the song, but I don’t really expect anyone else to get why I do it, nor do I need to subject them to my tastes. It’s just a thing I do for me.

So, if you want to start collecting things or just find yourself doing so, spare a thought as to the why and the purpose of your collection. Then, well, get on with it. You’ve gotta collect ’em all.

*You are allowed to salivate over a collection, but that should be as far as it goes.

**I hypothesized that my collections would fit into these three categories and when I tested it, I was right!