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Wednesday, 30 June 2021


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The closest I came to being a collector was a brief period of collecting coins. This was in the mid/late '60s when I delivered newspapers. Customers paid each week in coins (it was 75 cents per week). I would pick out the older coins and save them. Most were well worn and probably worth only face value. I still have the collection but it has been a long time since I have looked through it.

Collecting isn't healthy. Not mentally. And not for this ever increasingly fragile planet.

Hate to be a naysayer. It's also similar to hoarding.

Jay Leno uses his collection and sees himself merely as a temporary custodian. So he gets a free pass.

I have/had collections and accumulations. Sometimes it’s a thin line between the two. Sometimes it’s the intent or perspective that determines which is which. One’s accumulation might be considered collection by another.

My longest on-going collection is vinyl records which began in the early 80s. Maybe only a portion of it can be considered a collection. I have about 300 and about half of those are David Bowie records (albums plus singles, different pressings, promo copies, etc.)

Another collection I have doesn’t consist of objects. It’s memories of every bar in San Francisco I have visited. I made a list and there are 327. I wish I had photographed all of them, especially since many of those don’t exist anymore.

Getting rid of a collection can be as gratifying as accumulating it.

I had too many books relating to photography. I felt buried under them when i went into my study. And I had lost relation to many of the photographers and their work.

So when Covid meant hard times for bookshops I sold 90% of my photo books to my local book shop as my personal Covid assistance program. € 25 per box of two dozen, or more. They charge € 150 for one of them that I saw on display.

I am so happy.

PS I have reorganised my website.

Only one Nikkormat? What are you thinking. I have three and I think five F2s. Is that a collection?

I've found that applying rules and parameters can go too far and take the fun out of collecting, but then maybe I'm not a collector and I just like accumulating, organizing and using things I enjoy.

I have books, but thoughts of a real collection dashed by issues of space. So I go macro: a few baseball books, a few more spy books share a shelf. But the hinge, “The Catcher Was a Spy”. aaaahhh!

Product of the Week - OMG Nikon ripped off Fujifilm. The Z fc is an X-T# knock off. Fair game I suppose since FF ripped them off originally.

My father was an art dealer, as I think I have mentioned here before. His field was near and far east Asian art. He once described the difference between a collector (he had many as his clients) and an ordinary person in the following paraphrased way: "A collector absolutely HAS to have the object of his desire." I think if we are talking "collecting" we have to admit that there is an element of compulsion here that goes beyond the quotidian.

Here's a small riff on your duck decoy comment -- duck decoy collecting is not only a fairly big deal, it has created a subculture of duck decoy *carving,* and some of the new ducks are very expensive and nobody in his right mind would actually use them to attract a duck. Anyway, there was a duck decoy carving class in Tifton, Ga. A guy signed up for the class which involved both carving and painting, but really didn't want to carve a duck. After he learned the carving technique, he carved a very large, brilliantly painted statue of The Risen Christ which now hangs from the ceiing of Episcopalian Church (I think it's Episcopalian) in Tifton. I've seen it, and it's spectacular. So that's one place that duck decoy collecting has gotten us. 8-)

Yeah, I don’t really collect, I hoard. Photo books, Japanese kitchen knives, Italian handmade coffee mugs, kitchen gadgets. It’s all pretty random, and the numbers are not always large, but the urge is always the same.

Passing through Martin Parr's website a while back I read the story of his efforts, finally successful, to find a home for his photobook collection, which selectively form the basis of three fascinating volumes on The Photobook, authored with Gerry Badger. But the empty shelves must have exerted a powerful attraction, because he soon purchased the book collection of Chris Killip, only a bit smaller.

This does somewhat miss the "completist collector"; that eliminates some part of the curation step, though, admittedly, none of them really aspire to collect absolutely everything that exists, so they are applying some selection criteria. In my field, it's "every issue of Astouding Science Fiction" (or Astounding and its successor Analog), or "every 1940s science fiction magazine". Or every Ace Double, or every book published by DAW (the yellow spines), or some such. And, often, people collect widely in science fiction, and are completists in a few specific areas within it.

Usually (among my SF friends) it's a special area of a larger "accumulation" of the books we want to read. I kind of collect Edward E. Smith books—I have most of the American editions of his Lensman series, though by no means all the paperback variants. And yeah, it's limited by resources, I don't have the original magazine versions of his stories (I had 3 friends who did that I could borrow things from though; I think that's now down to 2, one of them sold most of his collection).

At least sometimes the fun of the collection is the joy of hunting for things. One friend back East, not that long after completing his collection of Astounding issues, sold it and started over, so he could continue hunting.

I know quite a lot of book collectors, plus several who own bookstores (which is one of the extreme forms it can take!). Plus many who have large accumulations of books that aren't thought of as a collection (mine mostly aren't, with tiny special cases).

My mother called herself a "cherisher;" not a collector, but not a hoarder, either. She would hang on to anything useful that passed through her hands, and could pull it out of storage in minutes when needed. You want a camera from 1948? A paycheck stub dated 1971? A sandwich bag that had been used, washed, dried, folded and stored away? All you had to do was ask.

I own a collection of manuals and promotional materials for photographic equipment, and I look for examples which seem particularly inspired or at least visually appealing. It's a small collection and seems likely to remain that way.

I recently browsed for a cheap 'learning' film camera* for my daughter who had that particular itch quite unexpectedly, after I'd given her a couple of bargain P&S cameras (the sellers did not even check the function of them by trying fresh batteries -so sold 'for parts').

This led me to list all the cameras I have owned over 52 years, since my first Instamatic aged about 9. It came to about 80,from all major manufacturers to 110 chocolate bars in my school blazer pocket,to my Sigma Quattro and Fuji XE-3; but the most I owned at any one time was 5,(and don't I wish I had kept those 'giveaway' film compacts!).

Is it a collection if you only have a few at a time? It's certainly been fun for a gadget-lover.

* A fully-functioning sigma SA-5 with the green finder problem, so good value.

According to Víkingur Ólafsson, "It is about listening to your heart."

That's from the notes to an odd music video by him and Deutsche Grammophon that features three collectors communing with their respective collections (toy robots, books, pinball machines) as well as Ólafsson playing a track from his 2020 CD "Debussy Rameau". The album almost instantly became one of my all-time favorite classical recordings.

Speaking of which, I bet music is something many of us collect--with some degree of curation, direction and organization--without really thinking about it as collecting.

Anyway, the video: https://youtu.be/qTwqBVt2Clw

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