Collecting in the pursuit of pleasure.

I recently pondered over a magazine article where the writer spoke of a collection of lovely curios. I sat back, with a tasty Oloroso, and wondered whether I should in fact start a collection. I do try to keep chez Boulevardier as minimal as possible and have to fight my urge to retain every item which crosses my threshold and build large piles of everything everywhere.


Recently discovering the treasure trove that is Of Special Interest in Crouch End hasn’t done much to aid my goal of minimalism. On each and every visit I have returned home with candle holders, boxes for matches and a variety of different heighted cake stands.  I could say I collect items from this labyrinth of beauteous and shiny objects d’art.

What is behind collecting as a hobby? Is it just for the hoarder among us?

There is interestingly a psychology of collecting…


The monetary value of the collection is rarely the drive and emotional worth surpasses. Collections allow collectors to relive their childhood, connect to historic times, to lessen anxiety of loss of self and to keep the past present.

Some love the adventure of hunting down rare items and treat it as a quest which is unlikely to ever be complete. Accumulating may also provide psychological refuge by replenishing some missed part of self or void of rational explanation.

Is this a modern hobby however? I was all ready for there to be no evidence of contemporary collecting and a leisure pursuit confined to the past overtaken by our instant culture. I considered whether people previously collected for the thrill of the chase with items being harder to attain. Today we have over one and a half billion online pages to shift through. We can navigate to Amazon or eBay and find millions of items for sale and shop worldwide. Had the thrill of the chase been lost? I decided to ask my motley crew of friends on Facebook.


It seems that my multifarious collection of contributors are still, on the whole, avid collectors with their personal assemblages containing: old foreign coins, theatre tickets, theatre programmes, biscuits, train tickets, Beano annuals, vintage Barbies, black and white postcards (Herb Ritts), Star Wars figurines, pop and rock memorabilia, old unusual teapots, and stamps.


The less serious collectors mentioned empty wine bottles, excess weight, fleas and political enemies! I’m not certain these held the same motives…

I also thought to check in with Mother who always liked a collection or two and she did not disappoint.

Mum: I do have a collection of glass paperweights, but had to stop as I ran out of room to display them and could see no point in keeping them in boxes.

Me: How many do you have?

Mum: Eight really special ones and another half dozen. I also have my collection of chocolate Labradors.

Me: And how many of those do you have Mum?

Mum: Seven and they are all in different poses and all have different names. I would have more if again I hadn’t run out of space.

Me: What makes you collect Mum?

Mum: Well usually an item takes my fancy and then one is not enough. A random purchase has quite often become a collection for me. Remember all the brass ornaments I had when you were young?

Me: Quite.

Mum: (on a roll now) And Dad has his collection of small China birds. They’re Beswicks and he has twenty one.

It would seem that collecting is in your Boulevardier’s blood, and aside from a half-cocked attempt at stamps when I was a child, this habit has evaded me. I really should collect more than clothes and artistic experience…

I could collect Dolly Mixture or Sherry, but suspect that my enjoyment is much greater in the consumption than the admiring. I did hanker after my lack of gravy boat several days ago and I might therefore try and resurrect the joys of the gravy boat through a collection.

Now if you would please excuse me I need to re-quiff my hair and frequent the local charity shops and vintage flea markets in pursuit of my first gravy boat!