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The lure of collecting

January 30, 2014
Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

I have a lifelong love of collecting.

I recall the day I realized I was hooked on collecting. My room..designated Collection Central by the family.was especially disheveled. I sat on the floor, surrounded by post cards. My Teddy bears were haphazardly heaped in the bedside chair and an assortment of souvenir spoons was dumped on top of the dresser. It was mass confusion.

Mom stopped at the door and made a slow visual survey of the disaster. She shook her head and asked, "Just what are you trying to do?"

"I'm working on my collections, " I said happily.

As she turned to go, she said over her shoulder, "Joyce, I swear, if you found two bent nails, you'd start a collection!"

So far I've never been inspired to gather building materials, but Mom was basically right. I wasand continue to bea confirmed collector.

I find it comforting to know that I'm far from alone. An urge to collect things seems to be part of the human genome.

Through the years, I've met dozens of fellow collectors. Their interests have ranged from stamps and coins to furniture, books and musical instruments. And, like the contents of their collections, each collector is unique.

Yet, as different as we collectors are, we have several characteristics in common.

First, we all love the challenge of the hunt and the thrill of the find. Collections, by their very nature, are continuously growing, with the collector constantly seeking the next addition to his holdings. And, when that sought-after item is located, there's a deep sense of accomplishment.

Another common aspect of collecting is the need to bring order out of chaos. In spite of my childhood tendency to be a bit haphazard in dealing with my collections, through the years I found one of my greatest enjoyments in cataloging and arranging my gathered treasures.

In talking with other collectors I learned that the reasons we collect and what we collect are very personal. For many, the collection is a link to childhood.

One example of this was the stunning collection amassed by my friend, Ruth. A long-time doll collector, Ruth gave me a tour of the treasures in her attic. This area had been turned into a fully equipped doll residence. The furnishings. cribs, chairs, doll-sized beds, strollers. were filled with beautifully dressed dolls of all ages and sizes. It was as if they were waiting for a convention of little girls to arrive.

Looking loving over her doll family, Ruth told me her happiest days as a child were those she spent with her dolls.

I saw quite a different display when I visited my friend Kurt, a long-time model train buff. A busy retiree, Kurt, who loved trains as a child, has spent years amassing an impressive collection of railway miniatures. Though he lives in a small home, Kurt didn't let that stop him from setting up a unique display. On the front edge of a large bookcase, he has laid out a tiny village with a train that weaves its way from one shelf down to the next and so on, climbing here and there, then leveling out. It's one of the most interesting layouts I've seen.

For collectors like Ruth and Kurt and me, collecting brings many hours of enjoyment, no matter if it's a childhood love or a new interest. Whether searching for the next addition, organizing or cataloging the prizes that have been gathered, or showing the collection to others, there is something in collecting that satisfies a deep urge in each of us.



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