Thursday, 1 September 2011

Confessions of a Collector Part 2

This is the continuation of Part 1
I recently completed this fascinating book by Hunter Davies, a well known journalist/novelist in the UK. He talks about being an accumulating collector. He hypothesises that there are two distinct species of collector, accumulators and serious collectors. 
The serious collector goes out of their way to collect, and actively searches for items. You don't have to spend much money, or acquire masses, but you do have to be serious enough to go forth and collect. Then there is the accumulator, a much more passive animal. A collector who doesn't really throw anything away and amasses 'stuff'.
He suggests that he started as an accumulator and then moved onto serious collecting. As he became older he had more time on his hands, more money, his children had grown older and then there was the dawning realisation that he had accumulated some interesting items along the way.  Although he says he has about 100 collections on the go, for the sake of writing this book he condenses them into 16 specific categories, although he adds that there is overlapping of his collections.
I tried to think back to all the collections that I have started, because like Hunter I never went out and actively collected. For instance- my primary collecting area for many years has been baseball. If baseball items became available for sale on e-bayUK I would bid. In the earlier days of e-bayUK, I'm talking 2000ish, I won many of the baseball cards items listed, usually unchallenged. At this time there didn't appear to be any active baseball collectors in the UK. Primarily it was cards that people had bought back from holidays, or been given by someone who had been on holidays. Occasionally vintage cards came up for sale. I'm talking about pre-1980, hoping not to offend with the vintage tag. These attracted some attention but considering what they were, it was minimal. Gradually more collectors appeared and more baseball cards, I then became more discerning and only went for the interesting and unusual or cards that I had never seen before. I accumulated 1000's of cards. Thankfully I was able to trade most of them away and become a serious collector of Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox and vintage. I'm still not that serious, don't get me wrong I enjoy baseball cards, but if I was a serious collector I would own the black parallel 2005 Bowman rookie. But I don't.

So thinking back to other collections I have had such as stamps. My dad worked for a company that dealt with Japanese companies, so I had many Japanese stamps and coins. I also accumulated matchbox cars, I didn't think to keep the boxes because I wanted to play with the cars not the boxes. For a while I collected train tickets. I had masses of train tickets. There was in the 1970's a radio station called 2SM which produced, on a piece of paper, a top 40 singles list. It came out every week and we had a record shop very close so I was able to get those and some posters advertising records. Later I accumulated a large stack of 'singles' records. 

I have already mentioned the aluminium milk bottle tops. For a while I collected money boxes. The local banks produced different money boxes sans money. My biggest collection was football cards - rugby league and Aussie Rules. When I was collecting, Scanlens was the biggest producer of cards in Australia. The designs I realise now are similar to the baseball and football cards in the USA. I collected, traded, ticket off my checklists every year. I even save the labels from Ardmona peaches to send for complete sets of cards.
Even back then I collected stickers; my bedroom door was adorned with overlapping stickers. Two I remember specifically- A large Fußball macht spaß German sticker which roughly translated is Football is fun and a bright orange sticker that said I'm mad about muffins. Where these came from is anybody's guess.
Another ongoing accumulation was Ephemera, all manner of magazines, Asterix and Tin Tin books, clippings from newspapers, postcards, computer punch cards (again from my father's work), cards from Weetbix and Sanitarium cereal boxes. Boy did I collect some crap. But reading Confessions of a Collector, it appears that I wasn't alone.
Think back...what were the most obscure items you collected?


night owl said...

This is starting to jog the memory. I know I collected a lot more than matchbox cards and stamps as a kid (funny how we collected both). Maybe I'll do a blog list and get it all out that way.

Captain Canuck said...

when i was very young, bottle caps and marbles... later stamps and matchbox cars.. then cards.