Let’s Define Collecting

Man has collected things since time immemorial, we’ve found no culture where people haven’t kept trinkets or souvenirs of their adventures and lives.  Today, mankind still continues to keep objects or items that remind them of the past or that they get some enjoyment of.  I am no different.  I have several collections which I greatly enjoy.

However, it seems like many collectors, even speaking theoretically, can’t agree what constitutes collecting.  I do think I take a somewhat narrower view than most, simply because I want to differentiate collecting from accumulating.  Take, for example, books.  I have thousands of books.  However, I do not collect books.  I buy them for consumption.  I read them and when I am done reading them, I put them on a shelf in case I want to read them again.  In other words, I use them for the purpose that they are intended.  I am a stamp collector.  I buy lots of stamps.  I do not use them for the purpose for which they are intended, that being to stick them on envelopes and mail them to other people.  Instead, they are maintained in a specific order within albums intended to organize and protect them.  They become collectables and I am a collector.  The same is true of any of my other collections.  I collect action figures.  I do not take those figures out of their packaging and play with them.  They are maintained in a manner which protects them in mint condition.  They become collectables.  I recognize some people may choose to maintain their collections differently, that’s entirely up to them, I just don’t share their view.

So what do you think?

2 thoughts on “Let’s Define Collecting

  1. Hmmm… Toughie. Your definition works well- but what about overlaps with using and collecting?
    I collect books, and I read them.
    I collect firearms, and I shoot regularly.
    Ditto for old high quality tools.

    I am trying to think of something that I collect but don't use…
    It's much easier to come up with a list of items I have accumulated but don't collect than the opposite.

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