On Collecting with Dave

A series of articles by Dave Robeson, owner of the Antique Depot

[#1] And so it begins...

Why do we collect? This is a question which has many possible answers and they probably number in the millions. If you ask a collector this question, duck and cover, as you will undoubtedly open the floodgates and you will be simply washed away by the deluge which follows. Some of the more common ones I hear in the shop from those who come in to browse are “I collect because . . .” then this is usually followed by “I love games”, “I love marbles”, “I love books”, “I love tools”, “I love toys” . . . I seem to have stumbled upon a theme here. So, there are as many answers to the question as one can fill in the blank “I Love ______”. There you have it in a nutshell. Now, the next question that you ask a collector needs to be, “Why do you personally collect?” This is the question that is likely to be a bit harder to answer and yet again the answers are approaching a number which is close to infinity. Now, the questions get a bit harder. What do we do when we find that newest treasure to place in that empty spot within your collection? The answers here are all over the place. “I put it on the shelf”, “I put it in the drawer”, “I put it in the closet”, “I put it on the wall”,” I put it ______". There you store it, keep it, look at it, cherish it, talk about it, learn about it, and now you have taken on another responsibility, or rather duty, and that is to “take care of it”.

               But how does one go about taking care of the many different types of material things which are collected. How and where do you store it. In acid free boxes, folders, poly sleeves, etc. Here is where lots of collectors drop the ball. It is at this point an object is at its most vulnerable. It can be exposed to a number of different factors such as light, heat, dust, humidity, not to mention being exposed to damage due to physical force or trauma. The object can be ripped, torn, broken, spilled upon, stepped on, chewed on, etc. you get the picture. So, along with collecting, comes a “duty”. A duty to care and preserve the object. After all, you found it, acquired it, and now you have it. Congradulations!

               You have now become a steward and caretaker. You have started a new relationship. One which can become very enjoyable, should you now take the time to commit to it. Is your new object just for Amusement? Show? A conversation piece? Or more importantly asked, An investment? Now, we are getting into new territory here. Collections can be and become valuable. This is only possible with the correct and appropriate level of care which you provide to your collection or collections. All collections have value including intrinsic, sentimental, or educational value. It is this last value I make use of the objects I collect. I learn as much information as possible about newly acquired pieces. By doing this simple task, one can increase the value of one’s collection in one or more of the previously mentioned ways, including the one many people hope for and that is monetary value. It is my hope to share my experiences and information about many different kinds of objects including, how to research, care, preserve, protect, and in the case of that item in not the best of condition, how to restore / conserve it.

               Where can one find and learn this information? There are many associations, clubs, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to the area of your specific type of collection from which you can glean all the information required for collecting in your chosen area or specialty. From coin clubs, stamp clubs, record clubs, car clubs, etc. the choices are many. So how do you locate these places and resources? This is the question which I hope to assist you the collector with answering. I hope to be able to aid you by providing examples of objects which have been found, acquired and now has earned a spot in your collection. It is my hope that by providing examples of different types of objects that some information regarding their care, conservation, and preservation can be of some use to collectors everywhere. If the readers gain only a teaspoon’s worth of knowledge from this series then my efforts and energy would have served its purpose by allowing for the preservation, protection, and conservation of collection objects for future generations.

--- Dave Robeson, Antique Depot