Skip to main content

Folks- sitting here in my office at 11:34 PM working on my coin collection database while thebuggal is out playing banjo in a bluegrass band, I've come back to thinking about what makes a die-hard "collector". I know most of you collect wine; I certainly do, and coins, and stamps, and antique bottles and beetles (for my living). Since a kid, I've collected just about anything there was more than two of. I'm curious to hear your insights on what character traits are required to become a full-fledged "collector".

Obviously it's an intensely individual, intellectualized pursuit that appeals to some little corner of ourselves that wishes to impose order on chaos.

Ok, maybe that's a bit overstated, but I'd love to hear from other unabased, incurable collectors....
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

BugGuy - for me, it's a retentive nature that makes me do it. That and a momentary passion for the thing that I am purchasing for my collection. Sometimes that passion continues and sometimes it subsides. I've had it subside rather quickly into "Buyer's Remorse" a couple of times, but normally it takes years.

I collect antiques and art objects (lots of art glass and hand-thrown ceramic urns, etc.). I even have a baseball signed by Joe Di'Maggio and I don't even like baseball - but it struck my fancy one day. I have Persian or Indian rugs in every room and I still get the urge to buy one if I see a gorgeous example of one.

It's just all so beautiful. It doesn't help that my mother owns an antique and home furnishings boutique.

But my oddest collection must be several pretty little jars, each one containing about a cup of sand and sometimes even a little shell or piece or coral from all the beaches I've been to around the world. My favorite sample is Curacao's - so pretty.

[ 07-17-2002, 01:36 AM: Message edited by: LilacWine ]
I thought collecting wine was a huge drain on my fiscal resources... until I became interested in guitars. I also collect books. I've collected a bunch of other stuff over the years, but wine, guitars, and books are the only collections that have survived.
I wonder if it's some shallow attempt to deal with mortality. I'm thinking I should work towards an extinction of material desires. Once I no longer feel any need to spend money on wine, books and guitars, imagine the freedom I'll feel. I shall no longer be a slave to Bryant, Christies, and Olson, I'll be completely free from their wicked spell.
The Grateful Dead bootleg compulsion is just a lost cause though. [Smile]
I'm a collector of wine and vintage music posters......

I find "art" or that which is appreciated at an artistic level....(music, wine, art, bugs??) to be things that people collect.

I think you have to have a strong passion about that which you are collecting, and there must also be elemts of value and scarcity in that personal market place for that which you are collecting to be considered a collectible by somone other than you!

mmmguy: Cool.

I buy Green Beans (mostly), & sometimes (Roasted Beans). But, Beans only, you know why. If I do buy "Roasted", I know where I buy it from, some selected sites. You can buy same type of Coffee from 2 different places, & the quality of the Bean/Roasting will be totally different. So, when they ship these Roasted Beans to me, they Date when they Roasted it. So, I know to grind/drink within 2 or so weeks. But, nothing beats Roasting your own, of course. I go both ways (as far as Coffee goes).

Store in the basement &/or cellar. And, of course, I apply some standard techniques (roast/grind only as much as you will drink that week or so). I try to keep to those Rules as to maximize the Coffee’s natural flavors. After that, you know, the taste starts to go. But, I do a good job in storing with Coffee Bins.

Favorite types: Dark Roasted & Power.

My favorites: Costa Rica/Indonesia/Hawaii/Cuba (some)/Africa (some). But, admit, that I have a lot more to try & have to put more time/research into it. Damn Wine habit takes all my time & $$$.

Some of my favorites:
Indonesian Sumatra - 5 star. Yet, to find better. This stuff is unreal.
Cuban Turquino Grade 1.
Hawaiian Kona Peaberry.

I think that US offers no good Coffee in their Restaurants/Bistros. Very rare. Just cannot drink that stuff. Europe's Restaurants are great, almost everywhere. That is how I got into it. When I started traveling to Europe/Australia, I realized what Coffee should be/taste like.

How about you? What are some of your favorite? What techniques do you apply?
LCC -- I have nowhere near your level of coffee knowledge and passion, but I agree with you re Sumatra -- that stuff is the best! I get mine at Royal Coffee in Oakland, whole bean, and I grind one pot's worth every day. There are lots of good coffee places around here, including Peet's, that also have Sumatra, but Royal's is far and away the best.

BTW, where do you stand on all this "fair trade" stuff?
Doc and Dr D., boiled it down to passion.
Can not argue with that. But sometimes the collecting borderlines on obssesion.
Some people take it to extremes with very rigid positions.
Good or bad?
You be the judge of that.

Have you ever had coffe from the Chiapas highlands(SE Mexico)?
When I was a kid, I used to help my Grandma roast the coffe. She'd do it outdoors in an huge pot, us kids would fight to be the one stirring the beans with a wooden paddle.
The aromas were IN-credible!!!
Ditto on most cafeteria coffe.
Off-topic, but relevant to a part of the conversation.

Sumatra coffe is incredible. I must agree.

But have you tried Celebes Kolossi beans, a.k.a. Sulawesi? Oh man. YUMMY. No bitterness, strong, solid, and nutty flavor. Just fantastic coffee.

I can find both at Central Market here in Dallas.

[ 07-17-2002, 01:22 PM: Message edited by: LilacWine ]

Thanks for the details! I'm impressed that you roast your own you do this at home with normal kitchen equipment?

As for me, I simply enjoy a good cup of coffee and have a bit of a caffeine addiction. Sumatra is good stuff (I believe it's less acidic, too, so it's easier on the stomach when you're drinking it by the pot!!).

Sometimes I mix Columbian or Sumatran (for body) with some Costa Rican (for spice), which works out pretty well...I'm sure there are even better combos out there that I haven't discovered....not to mention great coffees I haven't tried...But I've never roasted my own. I should invest a little more time in this...who are your suppliers?
When I was in elementary school, I was crazy for baseball cards, so there's about 3,000 of those in my dad's basement. In high school, it was all about Grateful Dead and Phish tapes, and there's about 600 of those in dad's basement. Then it was on to wine, so there's about 100 of those in -- you guessed it -- dad's basement.

I definitely think a common impulse drives these sort of collections, and the routines and rituals we have in terms of the acquisition, tracking, and upkeep of our chosen items.

To be differentiated from avarice---which is money specific, greed is the reason people "collect" anything, from cars, to boats, to art, to wine.

"I have to have it" is the gluttonous gab of the greedy, especially for luxury items that serve no necessary function. Realistically, anyone with more than 10-20 bottles must concede this fact.

I'm with you, Keith. I used to collect baseball cards - thank heavens I stopped. I was WAY out of control. When they introduced new cards seemingly each month, I quit as I wasn't able to keep up (and neither was my bank account).

I agree with you, Dr. Greed. Greed. Greed.

Unfortunately I've replaced my baseball card hobby with a wine hobby (although there was a 8 year hiatus in between the two).

I really can't describe why I go on buying binges - I suppose it's partly because I want to try everything - yet I need to stock up on everything I think is a superb wine at good value.
Interesting comments, folks. A few specific responses, then a more general one:

I, too, collected GD tapes- still have about 120. I also have every one of the 84 ticket stubs I used. And Kieth, I think I have you beat on the baseball cards- last I guessed I had about 30,000 (1974-1990) squirrelled away in my Mom's closet! Someday I'll go through them all... yeah right.

In general, I think passion is a result or an effect of collecting, not a cause. I am certainly passionate about my wines and my coins, and devote many hours to their study and accumulation, but I don't collect them because I am passionate.

As I mentioned in the top of the thread, I like spending time by myself, I like considering the economic/social/aesthetic/historical attributes of the items I collect, and there is some perverse (ok, "anal", but I'm not a big fan of Freud) part of myself that enjoys arranging, labelling, and cataloging items. Also, I do like the "immortality" angle of collecting- assembling something that will outlast oneself. Wines, maybe not, vintage ports maybe so. But I know my coin collection (all 6876 databased so far) will be around long after I'm gone- hopefully kept in the family. This drive for immortality also fuels my scientific research- once I discover something new (albeit insignificant) and publish it, it is known forever.

Dr.T- I'm not sure I agree with you on collecting = greed. Greed, defined as "excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness" has a very negative connotation. I don't collect wine or coins so that someone else can't have them, nor do I do it to gain status with my peers. Would you call collecting coins to (hopefully) give to my kids one day greedy?

Anyway, a few more thoughts of mine...

IMO, buying wine to drink later in of itself is not greed. Buying 100+ bottles for such a reason is.


Greed has no relationship to others'needs or competition -that's where envy occurs. Indeed, the simple act of locking oneself in one's room to count stamps, coins, bugs, or wine over and over again, is greed in its' purest form. It is an obssessive behavior much more than a negative behavior. Negative connotations result from others eg envy, and the influence greed has on your own life course. Think of it as a neurosis.

Bottom line:If you can give your schtick up tomorrow without a thought or fill in replacement, then maybe your collecting is not greed for you. I can't throw my cellared wine all away, nor can I freely give some to just anyone, and I constantly search for more---consuming way more time obssessively than I should, including on these forums, so wine collecting is still a greedy behavior for me. However, I freely concede I am no psychiatrist nor even a psychologist. There are likely more erudite opinions out there than mine. Just my .02


[ 07-17-2002, 05:37 PM: Message edited by: dr.tannin aka x-man ]
Interesting angle, Dr.T.

I freely admit I'm splitting semantic hairs here, and if it gets tedious we can drop it. However...

Acquisitiveness/interest in material items, like most traits, follows a bell curve- some folks have not a care in the world for material goods, others obsess over them, and most of us are somewhere in the middle. At some point on the curve, the trait becomes pathological- clinically obsessive, neurotic, etc. In this sense, someone sitting by themself in a room counting and recounting money, what have you, are not greedy by my definition, they have a pathological condition whether anyone is around to see it or not. Greed to me (and maybe it's only to me) requires some sort of social milieu, some sort of moral judgement. One is only greedy when one's actions are detrimental to others.

In this sense, obsessive acquisition/interest in material items and greed overlap, but niether are necessary or sufficient for the other.

But anyway, it's fun and perhaps beneficial to think about...
I think it's funny there are so many Dead Heads into wine. When I used to go to Dead shows wine was the the last "thing" on my mind. I've since learned to love wine and haven't smoked anything in the three years that I've been into wine. Was there a whole wine scene intermixed with the GD? Sometimes we'd drink bottles of Champagne when we were partying but nothing serious like when I drink wine now.
Okay, Shane, now you've got me. How old are you again? If Jerry died 7 years ago this August, that made you about 14, right? What champagne was that? Were you one of those lucky elite Dead-kids my friends dragged around to shows? Were you in Portland, July '95?
Are you going to play golf with us in Seattle? Bob Andrake wants to know:p.
I collect wine carriers, antique iron banks, wine, shelter dogs, cookbooks, hats, original Dead photos and occasional bad habits.
I would occasionally try some of the local juice while on tour (a particularly not so good Virginian gewurztraminer comes to mind), but most often stuck with the King of Beers: Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout. I would walk the entire lot looking for one. Or two. Or... And you can't pass up the Old Style when at Soldier Field...

Those days were pretty darn fun.

Any *foreign* coin collectors out there?
After reading through this thread, and putting more thought into it... I figured out what my collection consists of. One of everything I get my hands onto. All because they have a specific memory or event associated with them, or a specific feeling. The Nirvana tape from college, the skinning knife I dropped that made a scar on both sides of my toe after slicing through it, the half-heart necklace that matched up with my highschool sweethearts necklace, the teddybear from my childhood. All of these things are now considered collected.... and the SI swimsuit issues? They represent the crush I had on Kathy Ireland.... [Big Grin]

So each thing is very different in my personal collection of random thoughts and experiences.

Coincidence. My mom gave me six old iron coin banks probably dated @1940-1950, which I periodically take out to play with my daughter.
One pitches a coin into a mitt. One a dog carries thru a hoop. Another Uncle Sam pockets. Another a frog jumps with. Worth-who knows what if anything, but fun every 4 months to take out.


Like supply and demand lines, a well known study on desires shows that men's increasing preference line for younger more attractive, sexy, and presumably fertile women crosses women's opposing sloped increasing preference line for older more economically secure and stable men at about 32 years. [Big Grin]

DrT [Cool]

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.