Tips for starting (and enjoying) a collection

“What should I collect?”

This is a question I hear a lot, and luckily, it has an easy answer: collect what you love. No matter what the subject matter, as long as it is something you are truly passionate about, you will enjoy your collection. People collect everything from the mundane to the spectacular, and I guarantee you those individuals are just as proud of their collection as the other guy.

Listed below are the collecting “rules” that I tend to follow:

1. Collect what you love

This seems like a simplistic bit of advice, but a lot of collectors end up becoming burdened by their collections and lose interest in their hobby. If you are not passionate about the items you choose to collect, than stop right now, and you can save yourself a lot of money! It’s okay to change your collecting focus over time, that’s part of the fun of being a collector, but if you collect coins solely because your grandfather handed you his collection, then you probably won’t have the drive to make that collection bigger and better.

You might choose to collect memorabilia focused on a specific time or place that holds a special place in your heart. Maybe you want to recapture your youth and collect vintage toys, or maybe you like a specific company and want to explore its history through collecting. Whatever you choose, it’s always nice to know that collecting is fun — it’s a hobby, not work — so enjoy it!

2. Collect what you can afford

This might sound like another no-brainer but it’s easy to fall prey to this mantra. Collecting can be an incredibly expense hobby or it can be basically free. You can collect rare baseball cards, or you can collect sea shells you find on the beach.

I tend to collect things that are cheap, because I’m a fairly stingy old grump. Sure, I drool over the big ticket, mint condition, one-of-a-kind items, but I’m okay with just looking and drooling. I’m an eternal optimist and know that one day, I’ll find that very same mint condition, one-of-a-kind¬†item at a yard sale and snatch it up for pennies (It happens!).

I take a bit of personal pride in the fact that I always seem to find the cheapest, grungiest item at the antique mall, but when it’s cleaned up and put behind glass, its “value” is instantly elevated, simply due to its surroundings.

Collecting is not fun if it fills you with guilt. And if your kids go without new shoes because you just had to have that rare mint-on-card He-Man figure, that’s not cool.

3. Collect what you can store

It always boggles my mind to talk with people who collect cars, or tractors, or other large items. I collect books, among other things, and I have completely run out of shelf space and the books have started to form piles in front of the shelves. I don’t like this one bit, I like to be able to view my collection as a showpiece and those piles are in my way. I try pretty hard to clear out the old and expendable, to make way for the new “gems” but it ain’t always easy.

Personally, I don’t think a collection should be relegated to boxes in the attic. A collection should be out on display, or easily accessible, so it can be enjoyed by you and others.

4. Collecting should not be hoarding

If you’re not careful, a¬†collection can get out of hand and overrun your physical space

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a lot of stuff — bins in the basement, boxes in the garage, you get the idea — but I am also more than happy to unload items. Most of the items in those bins are on deck for the next eBay auction or yard sale. I do plenty of selling online and through other outlets, and find that to be a great source of funds for new items to add to my collection.

5. Share your collecting passion

I love going to flea markets and antique shops and chatting with the vendors about their items. Even if they are selling items outside of my collecting interests, I like to learn about the history behind different things. This kind of research gives me some insight on how to spot some truly great items if I happen to stumble across them elsewhere, and what a fair price would be for the item.

One of my favorite things to do is to pass along items to other collectors. An item that means hardly anything to me might be another collector’s crown jewel. This good kharma has come back in spades, as I have received great tips on items of interest and some fun things to add to my own collection.

No matter what you decide to collect, I promise there is at least one other person out there with the same interest. The internet connects like-minded collectors in ways that were inconceivable before. I created this site as a way to connect with collectors and show some of the fun things I come across. I hope this article has inspired you to get out there and find some cool stuff. Drop me a note and let me know what you collect. Maybe I have something tucked away in a box somewhere. happy collecting!