Feb 17, 2010

Collecting isn’t just a male preserve. Have you seen how many shoes and handbags most women accumulate? But it is true that men as the hunter-gatherer are the main hoarders of “stuff”. Before I came to my senses I had a garage full of bits of old cars. I once kept the back half of a Triumph Herald car sitting at the bottom of the garden. The intention was to throw the bootlid away and make it into a garden seat!! At one time I saved all the Programmes from Pop Concerts and Football matches I had attended.

In this interesting book Hunter Davies gives some thought to the reasons why people collect things and what motivates them to start (and stop) collecting. I suppose he had to do something on wet Saturday afternoons when the local Football team were playing away!! Funnily enough I own four of the six items pictured on the cover of this book. Blow Football games and William Books must be in many attics. Hunter has an enviable collection of Beatles memorabilia. It did help that he met them in the late 1960s when he produced the first in-depth book about them. He was also present in studios when they were recording and was able to pick up disguarded (?!!?) scraps of paper containing now-precious hand-written lyrics etc.

Hunter writes a monthly column in The Sunday Times called “Mean with Money”. Certainly, not throwing things away can have financial advantages…but only if you keep them long enough for values to rise I fear. If only I’d hung on to all my childhood comics until now!! But fashions come and go and they might just as well have remained worthless newsprint. He even concedes that collecting stamps is an ultimately pointless exercise although it kept him well amused whilst he was actually doing it.

I’m not sure if collecting stuff now for the future will make your fortune. Certainly not comics. This week both the X-Men and The Fantastic Four UK monthlies have started again at Number One. How long will it take before those issues have any real value? Never, I should think. The problem is that everything gets saved nowadays. People collect toy cars, keeping them in their pristine unopened packets. That never happened in the 1950s, so if an ancient boxed Dinky toy has survived it is consequently valuable. I sometimes wonder if future generations will have the slightest interest in the Victorian furniture and large gloomy paintings that so often feature as “valuable collectibles” in TVs “Antiques Roadshow” and the like. All you can do is collect things that you actually like and if they appreciate in value then that is a bonus. But if WW3 arrives, Victorian furniture, toy cars and comics won’t be much use to anyone …………

4 Responses to “Collecting”

  1. Dave Roberts Says:

    Its odd how I really yearn to own/have/collect the things that I actually threw/gave away more than the items I actually kept! Convincing my wife of the value of my various collections falls on deaf ears as she sees it all as junk to be put into a skip as soon as I depart this mortal coil. You are right, with everyone saving things in pristine condition and waiting for their value to rise makes it all as exciting as merely going out to a shop and buying your daily purchases , no more no less. Rarity somehow makes things interesting.

  2. Hi Dave

    When I began this (now very occasional) blog it was never my intention to wallow in nostalgia, but that’s how it seems to have turned out. All the things I like seem to be receding into the past rapidly.

    Something has happened to my cultural awareness. I used to think I was pretty up to date with all current trends be they music/film/books/politics etc etc until a few years ago when I just switched off/opted out from it all. I decided my brain was full but there might still be room to squeeze in some of that music from the 1960s and 1970s I couldn’t afford to buy at the time (I think I’ll get Jethro Tull’s “Living in the Past” next) and continue to grow older but not up.

  3. Dave Roberts Says:

    Me too…

    Your comment “Something has happened to my cultural awareness. I used to think I was pretty up to date with all current trends be they music/film/books/politics etc etc until a few years ago when I just switched off/opted out from it all” fits the bill exactly. I am catching up with the things I missed or passed by years ago. I don’t try to consume or enjoy too much in the way of new stuff simply because there is still so much to enjoy from the past which I really do enjoy more of these days.

    Its called “getting old” and yes our heads are probably full enough by now ( mid 50’s? ). Maybe we can hope for a memory upgrade just like we do to our computers?!!! At least my head doesn’t crash as often.

  4. Yeah, a memory upgrade would be good. Here’s an example of how far behind I’m getting. In the days when I went out every Friday night I would record Boothby Graffoe’s radio shows to listen to when I wasn’t so busy. I’m just getting round to listening to them now 20 years later !!!

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