The gentle art of building a collection is apparently once more on the rise.
Some of my customers at the Admiral storage facility are people who have items that they just need to keep safe. Some have items that they are not sure if they will need again, but want to store them just in case, and don’t have any room at home.
Some of my customers, as I have mentioned before, have recognised that there are items (such as old photographs) that can deteriorate if left in the wrong sort of conditions (such as the attic), and so want them kept in a more appropriate environment.
And some of my customers are collectors.
Now, never having been much of a collector myself I find collecting interesting – by which I mean that I don’t feel the drive to collect anything, but I do find it fascinating that some people (lots of people in fact) do clearly enjoy collecting.
As a result of this state of mind, I’ve often pondered how people become collectors. Is it that they had parents who collected something, and so got the idea that way? Or is it something inside their head that makes them collect?
Or could it be that collecting is a perfectly natural and ordinary thing to do? In which case is it us people who don’t collect who are the oddballs?
Over the years I have got to know one or two of my customers who are collectors quite well, and I’ve been able to ask them questions such as “Why do you collect?” but sadly the answer I get isn’t very illuminating.
Generally, they tell just me that they enjoy collecting, and that doesn’t really help. But these short conversations have led me to ponder this idea: that there are two types of collectors.
On the one hand there are those who collect something, and then refer to, study, look at, examine, or in some other way use their collection.
As an example, one of my customers collects football programmes. Not just of football matches that he has been to, but of many other games as well. Indeed, he does often flip through certain parts of his collection, looking for a reference, or a comment, or a report on a certain game from years gone by.
I had assumed all the information you might want about football was on the internet but apparently it is not, and so the programmes are a valuable way of resolving arguments that arise on the way to and on the way home from matches.
So this collector uses his collection.
But it seems to me that there is a second type of collector who doesn’t do this, but collects simply to know that he or she possesses this collection.
Such people (and I don’t say this in any way out of criticism, merely observation) could never bring themselves to give away or sell their collection. Indeed, I know one collector who has insisted most strongly that when he dies his family must keep his collection together.
Because I know this collector particularly well I was able to ask him why he should make such a stipulation to his children, and his answer was peculiarly illuminating. “Because it’s a collection – it took me years to gather it all together – it is part of my life.”
It was that explanation that gave me the clue I was looking for. Collecting was what he did. It was part of his life. Getting rid of any of the collection would have been like having a leg sawn off. The collection had come to define a part of what he was.
And, of course, that is absolutely fine. We all define ourselves in lots of different ways – through the way we dress, the way we speak, the job we do, the people we associate with, and what we do in our spare time. And for some collectors (by no means all, but some) the collection is part of the definition of what they are.
Of course, to be a meaningful collector one has to know a fair amount about what you are collecting, and so collecting becomes rather like studying something. Except what is desired is not knowledge and understanding (although that may come along the way) but the ever more complete collection.
I don’t know how many collections or part collections we have in store – obviously I only get to know what’s what when my customers choose to pause for a natter and tell me what they are storing – but I suspect it is a fair old number.
I also suspect the art of collecting (which I remember reading some years ago, was thought to be in decline) is once more on the increase.
And long may that be the case, says I.
You can find more information about our facilities on our website at www.admiralstorage.co.uk. Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 810 1125.
Admiral Self Storage Ltd
Tel: 0800 810 1125