Why Do You Collect?

Recently, a North Sydney (New South Wales, Australia) publication, Northside magazine, asked a “few locals” why they collect the things they do.

Academic and psychologist Mark McKinley, thinks that collectors are actually “supreme consumers”. While being called a “consumer”, supreme or otherwise, in the USA is often akin to an insult (even if my 2008 interview with economics professor Marina Bianchi ought to have cleared that up), I believe McKinley means it in a good way:

“While many persons see shopping as a chore; something to be endured, many collectors are just the opposite,” he says.

“Spending the weekend combing garage sales, antique stores and ‘marts’ provides an escape into another world that is both exciting and pleasurable – it gets the adrenalin flowing when a ‘find’ is made.”

That certainly resonates with me.

Sonia Sattout & Her Box Collection; Photo by Yie Sandison

Another person, Sonia Sattout, who also sells antiques and vintage collectibles online, said, “Some collectors are quite normal, in that their lives have routines like work, home and so on, and they fit their collecting around those activities. Other collectors prioritise everything in their lives a distant second, after their passion or obsession for collecting whatever it is they collect.” Which is rather a nice way of saying that collectors are unique — but we’re not all hoarders.

Sattout also said she thinks there are four different types of collectors:

* the aesthetic collector, who responds to the way something looks
* the obsessive, who is always looking for something they haven’t got
* the canny investor
* most commonly, the nostalgic collector for whom what they collect is a powerful memory.

While there are probably as many reasons to collect as there are collectors, I think Sattout’s list is probably a pretty good start in terms of general categories them.

But maybe I’m a bit biased because she collects boxes as I do. *wink*

Why do you collect? And is there something you’d add or change about the four categories?

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Deanna is the founder of Inherited Values, among other sites. She is also an antique dealer.