The Appraiser’s Diary: The Collecting Instinct    

Rachel G. HoffmanIn the depth of the subconscious mind, everyone wants to collect and preserve something. Collecting objects is one of the oldest forms of human activity. A normal child is born with a collecting “instinct.” Every boy’s box of stamps, coins, and toy cars confirms this notion — as does every girl’s jewelry box or shelf of dolls and figurines. You can see proof of this notion in every photo album and scrap book. The need to collect is in-born and becomes a motivating force for advancement, especially if the behavior is encouraged by parents and society.

Collecting antiques is one of the most popular forms of collecting objects. Antiques connect us intellectually and emotionally to our ancestors and our heritage. They seem alive or at least to have retained some element of their original life. It is fascinating to see how people do it and to speculate what motivates each of them.

ap1Collecting often refines one’s sense of beauty – what is beautiful to a person varies from each individual and as they wander in their collections, they seem to find out more about what they find beautiful. Man’s instinct for collecting has given rise to a love for all sorts of collections. Do you have a favorite collection that you have seen and remember? A car collection or fabulous art exhibit at your local museum? Or your Mother’s collection of hand painted tea cups? We thrill at the sight of a group of interesting artifacts. Collecting reflects our desire for longevity because collecting involves the preservation of objects.

ap2Collecting transcends national boundaries and unites us to every culture. We enjoy seeing ethnic artifacts and are fascinated by comparisons that demonstrate our common humanity. We are especially fortunate today with the advances in technology that allow us to shop and exchange knowledge worldwide. Today, the whole world benefits from the individual who takes collecting seriously. The collector’s resources grow every year, and the value of fine collections increases in time to unprecedented sums, as auctioneers and art dealers realize.

Collecting is no frivolous pastime. When we collect and preserve things special to us, we are amply rewarded in many personal, social, and economic ways. It’s important to collect what interests and excites you and keep growing in your knowledge of your collection. Collect what you love and enjoy it. Don’t indulge in the popular notion to ‘downsizing’ If you love it, GO for it. I want to hear about your collection! If you have something interesting, please tell me about it. Part of the fun of collecting is sharing it with others.

ap3To learn more about Rachel Hoffman and her appraisal practice, please visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *