13 Thoughts On Collecting

I meet a lot of interesting collectors, who also just happen to be as interesting and unique as their collections, and I thought perhaps you’d like to get to hear their thoughts on collecting. 

What do you collect — and what is the most common reply you hear when you tell people about your collection? (Yes, blank stares and laughs are acceptable replies!)

Collin David: (From Collectors Quest.)

#1 Among other things: I primarily collect Batman stuff and action figures of all kinds. Secondary (but still scary) collections include vinyl records, art, robots, squid, DVDs and videos, trade paperback comics, Legos, gaming miniatures, trading cards, all kinds of books, scrap pieces of plastic, wood, metal and beyond, instruments. I’m actually slimming down a bit due to space concerns. And when I say ‘concerns’, I mean ‘am I going to be crushed in the night?’

Shelley Brice-Boyle: (Is also known as sweet*cherry*pops, the delightful seller behind Sweet Cherry Vintage Lingerie.)

#2 I collect and wear vintage lingerie, and totally passionate about it. I collect everything from bras, panties, slips, negligee’s and peignoir sets, anything from the 1930’s to the 1980’s. I not only sell it, I wear it, live it, dream it! When I tell people I collect vintage lingerie, they look at me with an expression of “Huh?” and “Why?”

Marty Weil: (The award-winning journalist, SEO content strategist, and editor/publisher of ephemera, a blog that explores the world of old paper.)

#3 For the most part, people have not heard of ephemera, but when I tell them it’s old paper, they perk up. There are a lot of people who collect old paper, but they don’t know it. They have drawers full of vernacular photographs or old menus or postcards. All of these things are considered ephemera, and once people realize the scope of it, they can see that it touches just about everyone.

Angela: (She owns Dorothea’s Closet, a virtual and real-world vintage clothing shop.)

#4 Satin boudoir slippers from the 50’s and older (primarily older, and I am most interested in Daniel Green pieces, but look for Oomphies as well as a few other labels). Advertisements and other paraphernalia as well. Typically people don’t even know what they are as the art of glamorous lounging is no longer practiced, sadly. I don’t collect fuzzy old lady slippers, these boudoir slippers are shoes meant to be worn indoors but meant to be seen…worn with silk and satin hostess gowns when entertaining at home.

Mary Ann Cade: (The lady featured interviewed here and here.)

#5 I collect many different kinds of things. I collecting movie and television props, and have a huge prop jewelry collection. I collect Henry VIII items and I collect things that I remember from childhood, dolls I had as a child, movies, television shows, etc., as well as silent films. Many of my things fascinate people but I do get those stares from people that question if I am eccentric or just a nut.

What two characteristics or personal traits you feel are essential to being a collector?

# 6 Mary Ann: I feel that you need to be collecting things you are interested in, not collecting items that everyone else is collecting, just to be part of a group. Dedication to collecting is important without going overboard or crazy about it. The best part of collecting something is getting the item for a bargain and not letting your heart rule your head.

(She’ll have to teach me how to do that!)

# 7 Collin: I wanted to say ‘disposable income’, but then I recalled my growing collections of feathers and dead bugs and scrap metal and wood and how gloriously free they were. I think that a collector needs to have a desire to hunt – not even acquire, just the excitement of discovery of something rare or unusual within a set theme.

A second characteristic would have to be the ability to organize and stay organized, because collecting takes up space. Being able to understand and monitor that space is essential to a successful collection.

(OK, I’m going to have to debate him on this one day; “organization” is not one of the strong-suits ’round here…)

# 8 Shelley: I feel you are a collector if you are very passionate about something. You see it, you get butterflies in your tummy. You see it, you have to have it. You see it, it’s your’s. You see it, and you want more and more of it.

(That’s more like me — let’s just hope Shelley & I won’t ever be vying for the same bit of vintage lingerie!)

# 9 Marty: It’s funny that you ask… I’ve actually done some research on this subject, and I wrote an article called the Highly Effective Habits of Collectors. The seven traits I identified, based on interview with dozens and dozens of collectors, were patience, persistence, scholarship, understanding, preserveration, Internet savvy, and fraternity with other collectors.

Did you ever get an item for your collection so cheaply that you felt like a thief? Ever stumble into such a great find that your fingers shook when you picked it up?

# 10 Angela: Bright lipstick red satin wedges with black deco piping and braided buttons on the vamp, 40s, in mint condition as well (and my size!). I had been hunting them for years but only found them on high end sites at prices out of my range. These I spotted at a antique fair in the streets of a local neighborhood and the woman selling them looked at me as I picked them up and said, “Those are so pretty, but you know they’re not vintage.” Pretty? Absolutely. Not vintage? Only if you don’t consider something vintage unless its 75 years old!! It’s likely the flawless condition that threw her off. But lucky me! They were TEN dollars!

As a collector, what is one thing you cannot live without? (Not the objects/items themselves, but other things related to collecting, such as ‘space’, ‘acid free paper’, ‘eBay’ etc.)

#11 Marty: The Internet.

#12 Shelley: Estate sales and clothing racks.

#13 Collin: I’d like to think that I’m entering a place where I don’t ‘need’ anything. In my current state, I do need space like crazy. If I had to stop collecting? It would be a really bad shell-shock, but I think I’d live and throw myself immediately into something else. Like a freeway.

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