Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Just a Little Collecting....

Plants.  Books.  Bird images.  Art pottery.  Books.  Plants.  Books.

I collect.  Do you?

I love antique stores, plant nurseries (especially for native plants), books, art pieces, family "stuff", birds, garden art, ....  The list, for better or for worse, goes on and on.  I've wondered a bit whether I am in danger of becoming a hoarder, but so far I don't think I've fallen into that well.  I just love certain things.  And lots of some of those certain things!

Enter a book titled Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, written by Maureen Stanton.  When I saw it at an independent bookstore in Somerville, MA, (in June while we were haunting estate sales, garage sales, antique stores, used furniture stores, consignment stores, and Goodwill to outfit our son's new home), I just had to get it.   What a fascinating read!  It's an engrossing combination of personal anecdotes, historical tidbits, plain old facts and lots of gory details about the antiques and collectibles business.

For example, do you know how many items are typically appraised on a single Antiques Roadshow day - out of which approximately 50 will be chosen for inclusion on the TV show?  Well, they generally sell about 7,000 tickets...each ticket holder is allowed to bring in 2 items for appraisal...which means they screen approximately 14,000 items in each 10 hour day.  So, approximately 50 items are chosen out of 14,000 items, more or less.  Sobering odds of having a cool and/or unusual piece worth tons of money!

There were some tidbits for thought in the book, too.  For example, "Antique dealing is all about taking an item out of the wrong setting and placing it in its rightful frame of reference." (p. 22)  That idea resonates with me.  Isn't it better to match an item with someone who appreciates it than to let that item just join the growing piles of discarded trash throughout the world?  I'm simply trying to make sure that I don't consider my home and yard the "right[ful] frame of reference" for too many of those misplaced things!

Or how about these quotes?  Andy Warhol is reported to have written, "Buying is much more American than thinking."  Jean-Paul Sartre wrote, "Possession is a magical relation; I am these objects which I possess."   W. D. King writes, "Collecting is a way of linking past, present, and future.  Objects from the past get collected in the present to preserve them for the future."  Stanton links these three quotes with an overarching statement, "Assembling a collection suggests a deep engagement with living; objects link people to the continuous chain of life." (p. 26-27)

For me, from the quotes above, collecting comes closest to Sartre's statement:  owning these items I care about somehow seems to expand my possibilities, to remind me of who I am and what I love, and to form an avenue to share my passions and interests with others. 

All that good feeling and possibility from what my husband occasionally calls, "All this crap."  (Only when he's in a snit, though.  At other times he compliments me on how enjoyable our home is.)

Hmmmm.  Maybe it's time for me to find a "Wunderkammer," a piece of furniture developed during the Age of Exploration where people would display all the wonderful bits and pieces they had collected during their travels.  It would corral all my "crap" in one piece of furniture or (in the case of a "Kunstkammer," a room for art objects) in one room.  After all, we can all do with a little more "Wunder" in our lives!


Casa Mariposa said...

I'm not much of a collector. Thanks to a military childhood and military husband, I learned not to accumulate too much because it was just more to lug to the next base. However, my in-laws are huge collectors and love the thrill of the hunt as much as the pleasure of owning the object. I like puttering around antique stores but rarely buy anything. But I'd love to peruse your book collection!

Gaia Gardener: said...

Well, maybe you're just not a natural collector, since having a military childhood and a military husband didn't stop me too much! On the other hand, my genetics carry a long and ?proud? tradition of collecting bordering on (and sometimes moving into) hoarding. So I just work to keep things on the collecting side!

If you're ever in the area, you're always welcome to come peruse the books!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

We accumulated more 'stuff' when we didn't move every year or so. The book you got has some interesting tidbits....I sure like Antiques Roadshow though I don't think I would want to wait in line for all that time.

Melanie said...

I LOVE old stuff. .and especially any old stuff that belonged to ones in my family. .I sometimes leave notes in the bottom of things. .so that Jeremy will know what STAYS in this family in the event of my early demise ;-) His eyes just glaze over as he nods his head!! I especially love old medical stuff, reasonably priced of course!! And you are right. .half the fun is sifting through "stuff" and having something just hit you!! Enjoy your collections!