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Friday, 07 August 2020


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There's a person who collects *diners*. He has seven. Five are in storage. See


My S.O.'s daughter used to say that if you have more than one of something, you have a collection.

Accumulating is about what you have.
Collecting is about what you don't have.

Cameras of course, what else is there?

i collect lenses . . . apparently. i have great difficulty selling them is a more accurate statement. i have probably more than a dozen AI-S lenses bought between 1979 and 2004 -- probably 75% primes -- that i cannot bear to sell off. What home would those silky helicloids go to? i have a bit fewer AF-D and newer F mounts that are not in my "working set" of lenses for which i have no affection but are also still here. Then there are an equal number from my disappointment of the past decade: m4/3s. i will probably only ever use my Oly 12-40 f2.8 from that group again, but there they all sit.

i spent my career in the precision manufacturing end of defense work so (no surprise here) i also collect old revolvers. i find joy in placing them in cabinets in my study but somehow fail to find the same enjoyment from my AI-S lenses. So they sit in my equipment closet.

i suppose that they will all garner a modest amount in an estate sale in the coming years. Financially i suspect that the revolvers will yield more than i paid for them however. At least i bought them with the intention of collecting; the lenses were bought for the images that they make, so fair enough i guess.

-- gary ray

I feel certain that my collection of Beanie Babies will fund my retirement one day. Still looking for that purple rhinoceros, though. Just one more, I swear!

I enjoy collecting memories for which photography is the perfect adjunct -- especially digital photography which clutters only my hard drives.

It is the one collection that my heirs will find interesting and easy to store.

I have got a strong expression of the collecting gene. I have reached a point where I do need to unload some of the cameras that are sitting around the house.

Having said that, I have figured out that I can pursue unicorns that are not expensive, or if expensive rare enough that I am highly unlikely to find one. The fun part seems to be the hunt and the constraints that you put around your obsession.

Yes. Doesn't everybody?

"Josh and Nick would probably say I just do it serially as opposed to owning them all at once..." Maybe what you've been doing is collecting the experiences of having owned cameras. A useful result is that you need much less storage space.

To me collecting means you also know what you have and how it fits in the larger field of whatever it is you’re collecting. By that standard, I don’t collect.i have a bunch of old cameras picked up at flea markets, on eBay and from my own prior use, but there’s no real rhyme or reason to it. I have too many fountain pens, but since I don’t use most of them, I’m selling most of them. There was a particular pen brand and style that made me realize I have completionist tendencies (I.e. I want them all), but luckily that ended the moment I read there were already 375 different versions in existence. Since then I’ve sold most of those as well, except for the ones I just like. My wife probably thinks I collect lenses, but really, I get rid of the ones i don’t use enough...

For me, it's carte-de-visite photographs produced in Queensland, Australia, in the nineteenth century. Not harmful, not costly (relatively).

See http://www.marquis-kyle.com.au/cartes/

This may disgust some people, but I know someone who in her teen years collected the chewed chewing gum that her boyfriend, well, chewed. She also saved his cigarette butts. She did this for years. It may say something about him that he wasn't bothered by that and married her. (I'm not making this up.)

Being the pedant I am, I dislike how the word collection is commonly used. To me, collecting is a deliberate process to acquire items of the subject in order to 'make a statement' of some sort on the topic. Just getting lots of some thing isn't the same as collecting, according the the authoritative source of me.

A companion annoyance of mine is the mis-use of the term curated one sees all about the internet pointing to lists of things with no real regard to sense.

In fairness, I don't propose a better term than how collecting is used, even to describe the things I acquire in great numbers. I have untold books (unread books) but I wouldn't call them a collection. They are all over the place in subject, and bibliographically as well. Some are hardback, some paper (though I've promised myself never to buy another mass market paper back as I hate the feel of the cheap paper, so it's trade paper, or hardback for me). And yes, some of mine are in electronic form, which is really my preference when the book is essentially a collection of words.


Having over the last 6 decades moved across the country twice, halfway twice again, owned a farm, multiple houses and condos, usually alternating, I have collected and sold or donated quite a few different things. For instance when I first moved to New England I had a roommate from Berlin who loved antique stores. I started picking up old cameras for a couple of bucks to go on my bookshelf (this was late 60s when nobody wanted old cameras.) It grew until it was several hundred early Kodaks and pre-Kodaks (cameras made before the companies that made them were acquired by Kodak.) Sold to another collector during one move.
Books on racing technique. Again I started collecting them from booksellers at races, then got serious. Ended up with about 200 of them going back to the 1930s that now reside with your neighbor Mike, given to the racing library in Watkins Glen.when we moved from Boston to So. California. Along with several hundred other books on racing. And 4-5000 photographs from 50-70s racing, memorabilia and a gorgeous tether car.
At that time, I also had to get rid of 2 racecars and about 6 tons of vintage Alfa Romeo parts - spares for my racecars.
When we moved to the current condo, we cleared out the last of the collection of Art Deco artwork including parts from several famous buildings.
And I still have custom-built models of every one of my racecars.
But overall, I'd say the thrill is in the chase - after a while collections become an albatross you want off your neck.
But I'm tame. I know a guy who sold his company and retired. He filled several thousand square feet in his shop with shelves loaded with collections of old cameras, electronic equipment, vacuum tubes and computers, early stuff to later Apple Macs - I believe one of every model of the Apple computers. When he died young about a decade ago, his widow and kids had no idea what to do, so the stuff is sitting there gathering dust.
A friend in St. Louis collects vacuum cleaners. An Aunt collected toothpick holders.
Jay Leno is certainly a good example of obsessive car collectors. Another very wealthy high tech entrepreneur I know collected Ferrari racing cars, filling two building on Long Island, becoming a big chunk of his billions. I know only one person who ever got a tour, a mutual friend who had to promise no photos and no tales. This friend was a journalist who helped collectors find cars and he has some tales to tell! REAL Bugattis in the barn.
I knew the guy who restored Ralph Lauren's car collection and used to see them getting worked on. Imagine walking in one day and seeing the bare metal body of Lauren's $30million Ferrari GTO under restoration.

OMG, that reminds me. One night at a vintage race weekend dinner we sat at a table with 3 owners of GTOs and a collector/restorer of Bugattis!
Money can't buy you happiness, but it sure can buy some neat toys. (Was it Ringo Starr who said "Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a Rolls Royce to ride around in looking for it"??)

[It's funny, but right when you said "But I'm tame," I was thinking, "I'm nothing but the merest dabbler compared to Jim." --Mike]

Life magazine. Mainly for the photoessays. There is a good Time Life book on the great photoessays of the original Life. If you can locate one, even from a library, it will give you a good head start.

Not to be just ordinary, but I collect original art. Mostly paintings, many vy local artists or ones who have had local connections.

The collection is curated by me, which is to say that I buy what I like, what speaks to me.

If you have something that you have to dust, because it's unused, you're probably already a collector.

My son once visited and looked at all of the guitars I have and gave me 'that' look, like Really? To which I reflexively uttered "it's a sickness". Which elicited his "oh" look, and a nod.

I'm fairly sure you once posted that it's okay it you're a CP (camera polisher) and not a photographer. I get that. An appreciation for engineering and design.

We're all owed a death at some point. If it causes no harm to others, then I guess by definition collecting inherently upholds the Hippocratic oaths principle of non-maleficence.

For the record, I collect days of happiness. My collection is quite epic and yet it takes up almost no room in the house.

I agree with Patrick’s point on collecting. So I don’t really collect, but whenever I see a photographer biography (book), I will buy it. I have quite a few. Many of them very interesting reading.

I tend mainly to accumulate, rather than collect.

I used to collect QSL cards.
I now collect 10MP cameras (to redirect my gas into a less expensive area ;-))


Just small ones. There's a few pics in this folder https://flic.kr/s/aHsmPTVuAW

Collecting helps surround oneself with a variety of the same thing. It's comforting to have many "friends" to play with.

Swiss Army Knives ...

I'm with John, above. I think of collectors as curators of a specific group of objects that bear some relationship to the larger universe of objects of that type. A stamp collector might want an Inverted Jenny for his collection for a specific reason, or an art collector may have an overpowering urge to own a particular Gandara bronze. I happen to own a lot of cameras and lenses (and oddly, pocket knives). But I am basically an accumulator (and Mike, I think you are too -- of speakers). That is, we are good at purchasing, and lousy at selling, and often the pleasure of owning a particular piece of clutter exceeds the "market value" for that thing. Why should I sell my Pentax thread-mount lenses? They are built for the ages, have great image quality and are worth about $12 apiece. They take up space, but also give pleasure both of ownership and use.

I knew a collector of Ceska Zbrojovka .22 riles. These are moderately priced .22 rifles manufactured in the Czech republic. He had to have at least one of each type/variation, of which there were many. His collection ran to over 100 of the things. In my mind, that's a collector.

My cameras and lenses? Just a pile of the stuff I have tried over the years -- a Hasselblad here, a Nikon there. And there. And there.



When it comes to compulsive collecting Martin Parr has to be one of the greatest of what he terms ephemera. I learned of his obsessive collecting habits (he spends hours a day searching eBay) at a Tate Modern talk several years ago. He maintains he has a collector’s gene.

He has an extensive collection of Margaret Thatcher stuff, teapots, postcards, statues of all description, tea cups, egg cups, ash trays, plates. He has a large collection of Saddam Hussain watches, Osama bin Laden watches, Obama cups, flip flops, sneakers, sunglasses, soap bars, watches, cups, cookies, statues, cereal boxes, underpants and condoms. He says, on eBay there were 18,000 Obama ephemera items and his desire was to collect the most mundane and trivial. You can see a smattering of these on this video starting at 14:56. https://www.martinparr.com/tv-and-radio/parrworld/
He has a large collection of USSR space dog memorabilia from the 1950s a few of which can be seen here: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2019/jun/01/martin-parrs-soviet-space-dog-collection-in-pictures which are published in a book he put together. He has another collection of Gandhi ephemera, and a collection of motorway ephemera which he talks about here: https://youtu.be/H4HyCTJkhVY
In Parr’s travels around the world he collects local photo books and photographs which is understandable but also he finds photography studios which have those cardboard scenes with bodies with head cutouts so he collects images of his face in these various cutouts.
I’m sure he’s added new themes since I heard him speak. Not too many collectors at his level!

Collecting -
I have a small collection of Bikes, pocket knives, writing instruments, watches & a few cameras - mostly items given to me or acquired a little cost. Storage space is always a challenge so find smaller things to collect.

Presentation tip for small items: Harbor freight has a 8 drawer wooden tool chest that can be delivered to your door for about $80 if you use one of their 20% off coupons.

Of course the metal Kennedy tool box sets the standard for more durable versions of this kit - I found these for $10-$35. Can find these on Ebay & garage sales.

I suppose we all collect information about the things and people we love along with RAW files of those special moments when the world came into perfect focus but I’m not generally a collector of things. I’ve accumulated a ton of stuff over the years but that’s just me hanging on to the things I once valued and enjoyed. All the stuff filling my closets was purchased because I planned to use it. For example, I still have my beloved high school Marantz 2238 along with my very first camera…a yard sale Spencer Full-View from the 6th grade.

I haven’t set out to collect the best or coolest examples of a thing since I was a kid collecting baseball cards and stale gum. I absolutely had to have every member of the Cubs and once that was accomplished I moved on to collecting the other stars of the day. I still have most of those cards somewhere. Many years ago I checked on the value of the cards and found that their condition was very poor by collector standards and they weren’t worth anything…with the exception of my Reggie Jackson rookie card. I guess flipping cards on the playground is not conducive to cashing in on collectibles in your old age. Considering how worn out the cards are I guess I really wasn’t a collector after all. If I had been a kid collector I would have carefully stored the cards in plastic. It seems that even back then I was just buying stuff I planned to use.

If money were no object I’d probably collect motorcycles.

“You do not need a therapist if you own a motorcycle, any kind of motorcycle!” - Dan Aykroyd

“When I’m riding my motorcycle, I’m glad to be alive. When I stop riding my motorcycle, I’m glad to be alive.” - Neil Peart

Collecting is a hobby. Sometimes the collecting relates to my other hobbies (photography, Hi-Fi). I collect lenses, film cameras and vinyl records. They don't need to be vintage or antique. I just enjoy interesting things, variety and good quality.

"Oriental" rugs/bags/weavings/kilims and Uzbek needle point. We have a bunch---a few inherited but most bought by us here(u.s.) or in Turkey.

Some are Turkish, some Caucasian, a few "Persian", some Kurdish, some Afghani-Pakistani. Interesting collection, now, maybe 50 or so things of various sorts, enough to rotate them. Keeping these in good order as we use them to pass along to our daughters when we downsize in 6-10 years and then upon our deaths.

I also collect smoking pipes, which I use. Thinning that out soon, and concentrating on several makes, Dunhill's, GBD's, Comoy's mostly, but a couple of others.

We have other stuff, of course, that accumulate into "collections", but we're not really collecting that stuff---some inherited (antiques), some just acquired along the way.

Don't get me started about books, esp. art books. Like crack....

regarding your knife...yeah...well sometimes

blades out one end

one blade generally
two blades maybe

a barlow can be a jackknife but...????!!!

collectors can be somewhat persnickety you know

having listened to "collectors" drone on about the minutiae of knives, firearms, tractors, fly rods and reels i decided to hoard not collects...much less work

Back in the '60s I delivered newspapers (Boston Globe). Each Friday I would knock on doors collecting the weekly amount of $0.75 from my customers. I was usually paid in coins (unless they were feeling rich and gave me $1 and said keep the change). This was the period when we switched from silver coins to clad coinage. I pulled out all the silver coins (some fairly new; some quite old) and held on to them.

I still have this "coin collection." I would guess that the value of the coins is only slightly more than face value but I enjoy having them.

My wife collects ceramics, recently Portuguese plates etc, in the shapes of various fruit and vegetables and foods. I buy, sell and accumulate film SLR cameras and associated lenses which I now refer to as ‘cabbage plates’ to distinguish them from the (smaller) set of kit I actually use to make photographs.

Only one of my vintage lenses has made the leap to DSLR/Mirrorless use, the Contax PC-Distagon - it just keeps pace with the 50mp Eos 5Ds. It’s a shame nobody has made a thoroughly modern 35mm Tilt/Shift as it’s such a useful field of view for naturalistic shots of architecture.

Telegraph keys, especially those made by The Vibroplex Company, which is still in business after more than 100 years. Search for "Vibroplex collector".

People collect just about everything. I once talked to a personal injury lawyer, whose client was injured by a string trimmer (called a weed eater in these parts). Turns out there was a guy in Bakersfield who collected those.

I read a Walker Evans interview in which he said something like, “Photographers are collectors, they collect images”. While the quote is probably not reproduced here accurately, the sentiment in it comes back to me as I try to organize my photo library.

I don’t seem to have the collector gene, but have wondered about it since the time I met an antique store proprietor who collected eye cups. Eye cups?
How do you get started in that, and what sparked the desire to obtain a second one after you got the first one?

In the 90s, I was in the seconhand tool business, and as part of the search for inventory, I advertised in the antique tool collectors’ newsletters and journals of the time. One day I received an envelope containing nine pages of ruled notebook paper displaying tracings of Tractor Wrenches. Each wrench was 3-5 inches long, and the author had carefully labeled each one with the manufacturer’s name (Prairie Queen, John Deere, etc.). I had no interest in tractors, but I was certainly interested in the man who took the time to trace and label all of those wrench tracings.
If I collect anything, it is these personalities we run into that are infinitely unique.

My primary interest is reading, but I neither collect nor accumulate books. Books are heavy, and a few peripatetic years of hitchhiking around Europe and the U.S. cured me of holding on to them.
I read them then pass them on.

I try to be frugal, so I tend to squirrel things away (that piece of rope might come in handy someday), but that is a different form of accumulation.

I once activly collected cans, soft drinks, beer, juice, etc. At that time I rravelled much around the world and sometimes on the way back most space in my luggage was occupied with cans. The active phase is over, but I still have hundreds of cans in the attic (not as much as several porsches, but the cans take much more space per dollar worth.

Note to Mark... Jerry Seinfeld sold 17 of his Porsches in 2016 (for about $22 million), and some estimate that he still has more than 20 others. Not that there’s anything wrong with that...

My default would be that I too accumulate ... as in cameras, which I buy because I need a particular model/body, want to try a different format (a Fuji 6x9 is percolating in my mind at the moment,) rescue something old an interesting, etc. But that’s truly accumulation, not a collection.

Then it hit me - I am a collector. I collect LPs. There are various sources, but the big thrill is when I find gold at thrift shops, such as Goodwill. The gold may be something well known but not yet in my collection. Or it may be something intriguing but totally unknown, like Line Renaud on the Line Renaud - Au Casino de Paris Dans Plasirs LP - a woman who is very much alive and a huge advocate for HIV patients and research. Finding LPs, physical objects with liner notes, leads me down paths of discovery. This rarely happens when streaming, eh?

Jerry Seinfield keeps his collection of Porsches in a brownstone in New York City he bought for a measly $1million in 2000 and converted it to a garage just for his collection.

I'm surprised we don't have more LP/vinyl collectors like Earl. I've been in more than a few houses with walls of records.

And more of us didn't mention "collecting" travel destinations, My wife and I have covered most of our bucket list already. We have visited many Frank Lloyd Wright projects, some quite obscure and rarely open to the public. We started when we got a tour with a college class in 1971. Photos of 15 of them are linked from my website under "Architecture": http://www.jimhayes.com/sitemap.htm

I collect Junk!... well I guess most of us are guilty of that to some extent! However I actively collect old tools and books. The books are about machinists, manufacturing or metal working, old construction or mining machinery and photography related things. I really like photographers such as O Winston Link who photographed industrial settings and more famously the last days of steam railroading in America. I like rust!

Does hoarding count??

With best regards.


Guitars. Smaller than cars, larger than cameras, stamps and coins. Also - especially solid wood acoustic guitars - a pain in the butt to own and display. They require both temperature and humidity control, which in turn requires storage with humidification and running heat or A/C when you’re traveling. If you want to display them while protecting them, the cabinets and plumbing get expensive.

I quit adding to the collection when I realized that I was really searching for guitars I would enjoy playing more than those I already owned, and I couldn’t find any. It turns out that I wasn’t interested in guitars with a special history, or fanciful designs, etc. But I’m still displaying, and playing some of, about 30 instruments.

It’s a collection to me, unlike the old cameras that line shelves in my office, because I actively cataloged them, photographed them, and sought information about them for my catalog.

One of my granddaughters has taken up guitar, and is showing a real affinity and love for it. It may be that she gets a bequest she won’t actually want.

ex-wives... and ex-girlfriends

I accumulate rather than actively collect books. Putting aside my professional working library (which is a true carefully curated and updated collection but which does not reside in my home), I buy books to read for pleasure. I have great difficulty disposing of them, when done, and I don't think I've ever disposed of a book that I didn't later regret (fortunately, I am also a re-reader). Because it is an implied condition of my ongoing happy marriage that the shelving-space allocated for books in our home must be no more than equal that that allocated for my wife's handbags (she expressly denies that they comprise a collection), I have limited purchases to hardback books (except those purchased for reading on aircraft) - a rule I apply fairly strictly. It is also my rule that I have read all books previously purchased before buying new ones- a rule I honour by small breaches, but if I come across a particularly interesting or rare edition. And I am allowed to replace paperbacks editions with hardbacks editions provided I also dispose of the paperback - we have a local, free book swap service, so I just donate them.

Fountain pens.

Collect and use, not just collect.

The three faces suggested by the blades of the Crabby Umbo’s knife are so evocative, like they are trapped there having an existential crisis ...

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