Collecting: We All Do It, But To What End?

When my grandfather died a few years ago, my father and aunts and uncles had to clean out his house and sell his and my grandmother’s belongings. Most of the stuff was fairly easy to toss or sell or donate, but my father was left with something a little harder to deal with: a coin and stamp collection that my great-grandfather had apparently started. Now, don’t get all excited, most of it is pretty worthless. Dad spent many hours sorting through the coins and examining them all with magnifying glasses and listing them all out so he can figure out what there is and if anything is worth more than face value. My brother and mother and I were recruited to help a few times. What made this process extra difficult was that the coins were kept in envelopes and bags, and some of the envelopes had rotted away, so these rusty as heck pennies were all mixed together. So, as a lesson to all, if you collect anything, make sure it’s stored neatly for when you die.

Here are some (blurry, sorry!) pictures I took during the family coin sorting sessions.

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I think collections are cool. As a kid, I went through phases where I had this deep desire to collect. I collected many things, usually with my brother. Rocks, Pokémon cards, Mighty Beans, coins, marbles, pencil leads, stickers… I think maybe I felt like collecting something brought me closer to feeling complete and satisfied with something. Or maybe just unique; I was always trying to be unique as a kid. I still have the coins, the rocks, and the Pokémon cards, though I don’t really do anything with them nowadays. I figure the Pokémon cards will be cool for when my brother or I have kids, and the rocks are too pretty to just toss away. The coins are just Olympic or province/state ones, so they’re not worth more than what they are, so unless I’m super broke, I don’t mind keeping them in my tiny safe.

i'm not ready meme.
Me when my mom asks if I want to get rid of my old junk collections

But it’s weird to think about why we collect things, though. Like sure, some coins can be worth a lot. And yeah, there are rare Pokémon cards or comics or whatever, but otherwise, we’re just hoarding things for no reason. We’ll die before we sell anything for big bucks. I doubt my grandfather often pulled out his coins and looked through them fondly. I haven’t looked at my rocks in years. My mom collects little frog figurines because she likes frogs. My best friend’s mom collects snowmen. My brother collects baseball and hockey cards. But is liking something enough of a reason to want to collect them? At least you could play with the Pokémon cards as you collected them.

I know I kind of explained there that I think I did it because I was trying to feel satisfied and/or unique, but is that everyone’s reason? A quick Google search pulls up lots of scientific/psychological explanations for a human’s need to collect. We like the chase, we like the organization, we like the nostalgia. Whatever the reason, our monkey brains are into it. I guess we’ll have to chalk it up to evolution and psychology and filling some void in our lives.

Simpsons fill the void gif.

I think everybody at some point in their lives collected something, so tell me what it is. What did you do with said collection? Why did you start the collection what propelled you to keep it up?

Anyway, I’ve decided to start collecting Likes and Shares on my blog, so please donate to my collection, I want to really build it up. Thaaaanks!


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6 thoughts on “Collecting: We All Do It, But To What End?

  1. I love collecting liquor bottle decanters. They are typically ceramic and can be openly displayed because they are of famous people, cars, buildings, well-known characters, birds, famous places, sports figures, etc. Some sit on a shelf above my long closet in the bedroom where I can always look at them. Some are scattered around the house, while others have their very own mantle.

    They accentuate the décor in my opinion. I prefer that people don’t buy them for me, as I’m very particular about which decanters I love. They are worth a few hundred here and there, depending what another collector prefers. The small decanters I own are worth much more.

    I collect them because to me they are bottled art. When I die, I hope whoever cleans my house out takes care of my decanters until they can offer them to an antique store, or sell on eBay or Etsy. They hold a lot of value for me, mainly because I am highly visual, and enjoy looking at the story each tells, or the one I myself make up in the moment.

      • I have around 30 colorful, quirky pieces. Their artsy, so I just fit them in for pops of colorful & sparky expression where ever. So far none are off putting. They make great conversation pieces.

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