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What is Collecting

The idea of amassing items just for the enjoyment of it started as far back as 4,000 B.C., when primitive men created collections of non-functional stone tools. When civilization progressed, collecting became a hobby almost exclusively of the rich. They’d spend thousands of dollars on art and other unique, high-value items, even sending agents in their place instead of doing the work themselves. For this reason, collecting didn’t really take hold as a recognized hobby of the common man until the mid-1800s or so. From that point until the early 1900s, however, collecting actually became synonymous with the word “hobby.” It was truly an everyman’s pastime; the rich would collect art and furniture, while poor kids would follow cigar-smoking men down the street to collect discarded cigar bands. Anyone could participate, and for reasons we’ll see below, it was even encouraged as part of a child’s education. While not having the same prestige in our modern world (partially because of shows like Hoarders which focus on the negative aspects of collecting), collecting is still a worthwhile and fun hobby for men to pursue.

Since its earliest days, collecting has mostly been thought of as a man’s hobby. While women tend to be more multi-dimensional and relaxed in their leisure, men have a tendency to narrowly focus in on singular tasks and become a little obsessive in their pursuits. We like to go whole hog on what’s in front of us. The male brain also has a bent towards systemizing that lends itself well to the hobby of collecting — and organizing that collection. Even the language of collecting is distinctly masculine: “hunting” for items, “winning” an item from another collector, “pursuing” a rare piece.

Part of this lies in the fact that collecting can be a competition of sorts, in a couple different ways. First, it’s a competition for specific pieces; who can haggle the best, hunt the best, dig the deepest to find the rarest piece. Second, it’s a competition in establishing prestige over our peers. In finding unique items, we earn respect as expert “hunters” (at least from our fellow collectors!)

In a world where actual hunting is no longer a defining activity of masculinity (although it certainly can be!), being the best at a hobby — especially the traditionally masculine hobby of collecting — can give you a sense of pride and make you more interesting and notable to others. Additionally, sociologists have theorized that collecting (especially the thrill of the hunt for that next great piece) can provide the same kind of rush as hunting or winning a sporting competition. This is why collecting can quickly turn into obsession

Collecting provides feelings of pride and ownership that are even greater than in owning other items, because we know what we have is at least somewhat unique. Everyone has a TV, furniture, bestselling books; not everyone has an awesome vintage men’s magazine collection like Brett does. Our collected pieces hold a special place in our hearts and become some of our most valued possessions. The pride of a collection is a pride that is hard to come by in more passive hobbies like reading, whittling, or even gardening. While you get a sense of completion with other hobbies, collecting can truly give you a sense of victory — of having successfully taken down your White Whale — when you’ve found a piece you’ve been hunting for your whole life.

The Benefits of Having a Collection

Builds organizational skills
Builds expertise.
Builds marketplace skills.
Potentially profitable

This particular piece of writing comes from How to Start a Collection; 50+ Manly Collection Ideas, which I feel sums up the ‘art’ of Collecting, far better than I ever could
Find them HERE

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