Posted by Steve Price on March 31, 1999 at 07:27:17:
I will attempt to summarize the two weeks of lively exchange that has just occurred.
It was provoked by a listing of the 5 main factors that most collectors use in deciding whether to acquire a piece:
Aesthetics, Age, Rarity, Ethnographicity, and Investment Value.
Some other factors that are probably of great importance to relatively small numbers of collectors were added. One of these is novelty, and a discussion about that led to the conclusion (perhaps surprising) that this is an element that makes a piece particularly desirable as long as it is not TOO novel. That is, most of us take some comfort in the familiar even when we seek out the novel.
Another factor, of much more limited occurrence, is that there are collectors who try to acquire every existing example of some particular type of item.
Collector styles were another topic of discussion, the difference between the specialist who develops a focussed collector and the eclectic magpie type (of which I am an example). There was also mention of the impression the appearance of connoisseurship and affluence imparted by collecting rugs may have on others, with come conjecture about the evolutionary significance of this in terms of mate selection.
It was clear that the discussions were, at times, dealing with topics very close to the psyches of the people involved, and emotional reactions were elicited at times. Perhaps the matter of what motivates us to behave as we do is a little too personal to share publicly.
And perhaps the most sage advice to any novice (or advanced, for that matter) collector came toward the end of the two weeks: the collections that give their owners the most pleasure are those in which a passion for the objects is the major driving force. It does, however, raise the question of what factors generate the passion, which brings us back to where we started.
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