A pooled din of voices filled the room which was jammed with shoppers eagerly scanning the display tables. As a vendor, I was pleased to see the crowd. Unlike most of the attendees, I was present only because my husband needed help operating his table. Basically, I was a disinterested party. (My concerns were the bottom line and a happy spouse.) Fragments of individual conversations danced on my ears. I strained to lock onto one at a time imitating Jane Goodall—except I was observing numismatists instead of chimpanzees.
Collectors are an intriguing breed who delight in nuance and detail. The adventure of discovery is buttressed by their fascination with detail. This ensures that every potential incarnation of the item can be tracked—and more importantly, acquired. The slightest variation justifies the purchase of additional material. Much of their pleasure derives from the prospecting and great satisfaction accrues from the haggling process as well. A perfect transaction leaves both buyer and seller convinced that a bargain was struck
True collectors thrill at the chance to display their treasure, preening like proud mothers cradling their newborns. Hyperbole abounds as owners extol the unique features of each specimen. The knowledgeable appreciation of an informed audience brings resonant joy to the lucky owner. All that stuff which collectors accumulate is bundled with facts that provide context. History comes to life, assembled from a mosaic of painstakingly acquired information. Connection to a significant event or important person is highlighted. (And often improves both appreciation and price.) The sense of community is an intangible benefit equally valuable as the collection itself. This tribe has its own language, culture, heroes and Holy Grail.
Skeptical spouses sit on the side-lines unconvinced by the charm of the newest purchase and chagrined by the expense. Reassurances that “It’s a good investment,” soften the irritation—a hair.
Ultimately, collectors are a separate sub-species. You either have the gene or you don’t. I decided that I don’t.