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COLLECTING THOUGHT
WHY WE COLLECT
In 1940 an 80,000 year old cave was discovered n France.  Among the artifacts discovered was a collection of small stones, high up on a natural shelf, all of the same size and round shape.  Archaeologists can not explain the significance; perhaps they were collected as a spiritual hunting rite.  I like to think they were collected for the pure aesthetic fun of it
Ancients believed they could transport their collections and riches with them from this world to the next.  And we can today determine the status of primitives by the items found in their tombs.
We still have the primordial gathering urge.  We collect, hoard, and accumulate items that appeal to us.  We collect for aesthetically and historical value rather than for utilitarian reasons.  It's love of nostalgia, a connection to the past, or maybe personal satisfaction with the acquisition of goods.  Collecting is also about preserving the past for future generations and valuing the art and craftsmanship of previous generations.
Auctions were held in Imperial Rome featuring war plundered art and goods from other kingdoms.  Only the wealthy had the time and funds to acquire collections, if only to display evidence of their upward mobility, as they outbid each other, even then, for at times an elegant fake.
Some people enjoy sky diving, bungee jumping, or white water rafting.  Collectors prefer the quiet thrill of discovery and invest their time, quick heartbeats and energy in a state of enjoyable longing and frustration.  It's a never ending intoxicating search, in and out of flea markets, garage sales, antique and junk shops looking for yet another item to add to the growing collection.
The Crusaders sought the Holy Grail; Conquistadors searched for the fountain of youth and cities of gold, Columbus for a new trade route to Asia.  All found unexpected adventures and treasures.  It's all in the search.  The anticipation and the hunt are as exciting as the actual acquisition.
Speaking of unexpected treasures, most of us know of the 1989 find of an original copy of the Declaration of Independence found in a $4 dollar picture frame sold at a flea market.  It was a first printing with no restoration, no repair, and unbacked. Only 7 of the 24 known copies are unbacked, which increases their value.  It was sold for over a million dollars. 
On April 12, 2008 Sollo-Rago Auction house sold a small 1927 chrome plated metal desk lamp by Donald Deskey found by a picker at a garage sale for ten dollars.  Estimated value was between two and four thousand dollars.  Phone bidding opened up at seven-thousand dollars. And the final hammer price was one hundred-thirty eight thousand dollars.  Talk about an unexpected rare find.
Today, collectibles are the stuff of dreams and urban legend.  Our affluent society provides greater leisure time, and money, that can be devoted to collecting.  And with an accelerated consumer culture there are more items to collect.
Collection is one of the very few pursuits where greed is an acceptable and even admired trait.  As corporate raider Gordon Gekko said in the movie Wall Street; “the point is Ladies and Gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word is good. Greed is Right. Greed works.”  Well, we may not go that far, but where else can you own 700 lamps or thousands & thousands of swizzle sticks, five hundred cocktail shakers or fourteen of the same player on a  base ball card and be admired for it?
The Millennium has brought an increased awareness of history and historical value of things.  And as a result, all kinds of items that were taken for granted are being re-examined, re-evaluated, and collected.  And once collected the items are removed from their intended use and are elevated to a higher level, never to be used again, and if so only on special occasions; such as a expensive cocktail shaker.
While our culture may sometimes smirk at the latest tulip mania craze sweeping back and forth across the Nation and the obsessive collectors under its spell.  It can't help but admire the passion and romance of collecting.  And, after all, preserving the past is not such a terrible addiction.