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Lippy's Website - Articles (500x375)The Art and Various Stages of Building a Collection

Often a collector is somebody who has been given an item or two, can see the beauty in these items and finds out there are a number of other similar items in the series, or many different types to choose from.
All that needs to occur after this realisation, is a bit of spare cash and another item to ‘pop’ up and before long, there are three or four items in the collection. Once there is a conscious decision to collect these objects, the items are often collected at a rather frenetic pace and perhaps a little indiscriminately too.

The second stage of collecting is to discover there are usually more items ‘out there’ in the world than ‘one’ can really hope to collect and you start to specialise a bit. For example, if glass is your collecting passion, you may decide to specialise in crystal, or perhaps green ‘depression’ glass. A stamp collector may specialise in a particular country or even an aspect of a country and a silver collector may wish to specialise in Sterling. Whatever your passion the second stage of collecting is to put some boundaries around your area of interest and concentrate within these.

The third stage of collecting is to actually start purchasing more expensive items from specialised dealers and at specialised auctions. This stage often requires relationships to be built between the purchaser’s and the dealers and can be immensely satisfying. This process is often arrived at from a state of necessity, as the collection has often grown to a size that takes considerable space, the process of disposing of less wanted items and the purchase of more desirable ones is a natural progression.

The process of ‘winnowing’ a collection or building it into a more valuable one usually precipitates a number of other actions. These include:

• The desire to display the collection, either in the home or at specialist exhibitions or both, and
• The owner enquiring about insuring the collection

Both are recommended, after all, the pleasure of owning a collection is also to be able to see and show it to friends and compatriots with similar interests. Secondly, a collector approaching this stage probably has some value, often considerable value, even if it is only to the individual collector. If something were to ‘happen’ to the collection, perhaps breakage, fire or theft, the collector would be mortified. It is therefore a good idea that the collection be insured. However, please beware, it is my understanding Insurance companies will not ‘pay out’ on a claim where the collection is not satisfactorily catalogued.

Often most collectors remain in the second or third stage of collecting most of their lives and continue to collect or winnow and collect. However, sometimes there is a fourth stage of collecting, this being the disposal of an entire collection. Often the disposal of a collection is done when the collector has died but sometimes is undertaken due to divorce or lack of interest. In the case of the latter, the energies that were paced into the first collection are often redirected into another area of collecting. This can happen as interests wax and wane and can often rejuvenate a collector that has concentrated in one area for many years.

Of course collection disposal or dispersal provides opportunity for other collectors that have ‘hungered’ over particular items and have been unable to obtain them until such dispersal sales. In some instances where several collectors ‘have an eye’ on one or two items, these will bring record prices at auction.

Occasionally a particularly large collection of particular merit will be bequeathed to a museum or public institution and held on behalf of the people of that State or Country for public care and viewing. Bequeathing collections to museums etc. shows a tremendous level of public empathy and spirit. However, also signifies that considerable up-keep and maintenance is required on such collections and thus, is sometimes better done by public organisations.

In many cases the collector develops an interest in a particular area when they are younger. But often do not become serious or indulge their passion until they can devote time and money to the challenge. This can often be when the family or business is no longer as demanding as it once was or they have higher disposable income.

But do not despair, collecting needn’t be expensive as there are plenty of respectable collections based upon inexpensive items such as thematic stamps, thimbles, playing cards and match boxes to name a few.

Displaying your collection can sometimes be time consuming and ‘space hungry’, particularly unpacking and packing away the collections, by this I mean the collection may require significant time and physical space before and after you even get to see it.

In the case of a glass or silver collector, a designated display cabinet, probably with a light, would be ideal to show-off the items to good effect and protect them from dust and breakage, whereas a stamp collector requires albums or designated booklet sheets to store them and show them to best effect. In both cases the presentation method may be just as expensive or more-so in some cases than the items they contain, but usually there is a range of type and cost depending on the collectors taste and how ‘deep their pockets’ are.

In some cases the method of display can be inferior. For example, unvarnished and cheaper display cabinets may actually damage silver collections by subjecting them to sulphides that have been used to treat the timber. In another example, stamp albums made from poor quality paper can contain acids that will damage your stamp collection with time. So it is important to choose your method of display carefully, use good quality materials and remember that displaying your collection well will help to save time and money.

With a stamp collection, the cost of a display may be fairly fixed. Booklet sheets or albums rarely oscillate in price (except for a sale). However, there can also be a range of other equipment costs including, ‘black lights’ for ‘water-mark’ detection, catalogues and if you really specialise, computers and printer programs.

On the other hand, display cabinets for glass or silver for example will vary in price according to where the market is ‘at the moment’ and whether it is new or antique, large or small, type of timber and where it has been made. However, whatever your choice, choose something you are comfortable with, can afford and enjoy. Most importantly choose a display method that shows your collection to its best advantage.