Humans are collectors. We have been collecting things since the dawn of time. Sometimes items are collected out of necessity, but today it’s done for an assortment of reasons. That has led to some very interesting collections.
It also begs the question, “Why do people collect certain things?” What is it that prompts a person to stock up on one particular type of thing?
Some collectibles make sense, while others are just outright unusual. But no matter how odd they are, there’s always a reason behind the collection.
It Brings Us Closer to Humanity and History
History buffs are among the most avid collectors. Autographs, pictures, letters – they all connect us to the past in a tangible way. But most collectors focus on a specific period of time, event, culture or person in their collections. The experts at Raab Collection note that letters and documents with President Lincoln’s signature are highly prized because he is such an important historical figure. To the collector, having a letter written by President Lincoln is like having a little piece of his life.
John Reznikoff has taken this type of collecting one step further with his collection of celebrity hair locks. In addition to Lincoln’s hair, his collection also includes Marilyn Monroe and Beethoven.
They Are Reminders of Special Memories
Many people have collections of keepsakes that remind them of vacations and places they have been. These collectibles immediately drum up fond memories that are even more important than the item itself.
Collectibles that often fall into this category include:
- Post cards
- Shot glasses
- Ticket stubs
Others will collect things that remind them of childhood or important moments in their lives. If you’ve ever wondered why people have creepy porcelain doll collections, it’s probably because they had them as a kid.
Cultural Phenomenon Collecting
We are all exposed to cultural phenomenon. When something catches the attention of a lot of people, many others want join in. This can quickly lead to crazes that become so popular they naturally lead to hoarding and collecting.
Fans of movies, TV shows, sports teams and even bands will go out of their way to find related items. Star Wars collectibles are a perfect example of how pop culture can influence the things that people collect. Coke paraphernalia is another pop culture collectible that has been going strong for decades.
It’s an Investment Opportunity
Some collectors hunt for collectibles strictly for financial reasons. Many collectibles such as art and stamps can increase in value over time, either because of demand or scarcity.
One of the more odd collectibles that some people use for income is antique furniture. Collectors will scour estate sales and flea markets looking for pieces that were made in a certain year or style. Now that repurposing is considered trendy and eco-friendly, the demand for antique furniture is increasing along with the price.
Serves as a Status Symbol
Collections can also serve as a status symbol. The more expensive it is, the harder it is to come by. The more you have sends a signal to others that you are rolling in dough. Hundreds of years ago, collections could also denote your social position. Consider what it was like before the printing press was created. Back then huge collections of handwritten books showed how wealthy and educated a person was.
Other examples of ordinary and odd status symbol collections throughout history include:
- Birkin bags
- Beauty products
- Body modifications
- Blue jeans
The status symbols vary by country and culture, but collecting highly-prized items is a common thread.
Taps Into Primal Urges
Certain things have deeper meaning than what is on the surface. What the item represents is more important to the collector than the item itself.
Take Jay Leno’s car collection, for example. There’s no denying that Mr. Leno has a real love for automobiles. But there’s also no need for one person to have 130 cars. In the past Mr. Leno has said he simply buys cars that he wants to drive. But when you dig deeper, it’s clear that cars represent freedom, and that’s the feeling that drives Mr. Leno to collect cars.
The more a person collects, the more of that primal urge they get to experience. Thus, 130 cars for one person.
Sometimes It’s Just an Obsession
You may have heard of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It’s a behavioral disorder that causes people to obsess over specific things and act in compulsive ways that they can’t fully control. One of the side effects that can come with OCD is collecting – and usually what’s collected is extremely odd.
Some of the world’s strangest one-off collections are:
- Nancy Hoffman’s collection of 730 umbrella sleeves
- Rob Hull’s collection of 571 daleks
- Becky Martz’s collection of 7,000+ banana stickers
Of course, these individuals don’t necessarily have OCD, but interestingly enough collecting can trigger OCD tendencies. Collecting can reach a point where the person simply cannot pass an item up if it adds to their collection.