Collecting is a human experience. It’s something so many people do whether it’s a professional collection or a casual collection. The collection itself can range from nearly anything: from salt and pepper shakers (in my mom’s case), pressed pennies (in my case), to random knick knacks, souvenirs, bad poetry, and other random items. Our collections bring a small (perhaps big in some cases) meaning to our lives. Personally, I collect pressed pennies from places that I’ve been. So far I’ve totaled 21 pennies ranging from South Padre Island to New York. So why are we drawn to collecting seemingly random knick knacks? And what are the benefits to owning a collection?
First of all, collecting is not hoarding. According to National Psychologist, we collect for a variety of reasons: to preserve the past, expand our social lives by attending events where collectors can connect with like minded people, or simply as a quest to obtain as many like objects as one can in a lifetime. Collectors will showcase their items and proudly display them to friends, family, and possibly other collectors. Hoarders, on the other hand, are the opposite. They lack impulse control and have difficulty with decision making, unable to throw things away or know when to stop. In an article by The New York Times, hoarders lose the desire to display items–an important element to collecting for collectors–and their social life is hindered by their embarrassment over people’s possible reactions to the clutter. As long as you are in control of your unique collection, collecting is quite good for you.
Collecting encourages desire for knowledge. We obsess over the item we collect and put in research to find valuables (like my mother as she researches salt and pepper shakers made decades ago) or to dig deeper for a better understanding behind a culture, an animal, a science, the possibilities are endless. In my case, my pressed pennies give me the desire to travel further and gain knowledge and experience from every location I travel to. To have a token, a reminder, for every experience I obtain. As mentioned above, I would fall into the “desire to preserve the past” category. I like to see these small, smushed coins as windows into what was, and a doorway to what could be if I pursue my hunt for more. Another way I look at it, is that pennies are nearly worthless and by collecting pressed pennies, I am adding personal value to them.
Collecting improves our organizational skills as we seek out the best possible way to showcase our collections so that it remains appealing to visitors and desirable to other collectors. Some collections may take hours of work and organizing, and others may only take a few minutes. In my case, my 21 pennies are located in a Penny Passport Book that I leave out on my living room mantle. As we all know, organizational skills is a valuable skill to have. In fact, in a recent job interview I had, I was asked how I personally keep organized. So keeping up with a collection can help develop your organizational eye as well as help you nail job interviews.
Lastly, collections encourages creativity, to think outside the box. This can be relevant to when we first start a collection. What should I collect? Insects in general or something more specific like blue butterflies? And as we build our collections, we look for ways to expand it and make it more interesting rather than have repetitive objects on display. We search for items that are more unique or have a fascinating backstory. We look for these items to be able to create an alluring display. Perhaps we even create pieces to add to our collection. Overall, collections are great to fulfill our needs for creativity.
We learn from our collection and they help develop who we are. They give us something physical, something important to hold on to. We place a piece of ourselves inside our collections giving this world something to hold on to even after we’re gone. We all do it in some fashion; collecting is a human experience.
Do you have a collection you’re proud of and what to show off? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to hear from you!
*Pennies featured above are from The Golden Gate Bridge, Times Square, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
I’ll see you guys on Wednesday!