A Gentleman’s Guide to Collecting

Dozens of tempting hobbies await the modern gentleman. Classics like chess, writing, fencing, or more modern ones such as blogging, filmmaking, computer design are some of the obvious hobbies. Collecting is a hobby that tends to be overlooked. I present the gentleman’s guide to collecting…

Gentleman's Collecting Guide

Many great men have pursued collecting with a passion. Perhaps the most prominent collectors were the J.P. Morgans; both Sr. and Jr. assaulted the art markets of Europe, taking away more treasures than the Goths who sacked Rome. Their collections were not only filled with great works of art, but priceless manuscripts of great authors. In the Morgan home, it was a tradition to read Christmas Carol from Dickens’ own manuscript on Christmas Day.

Here is a collecting guide you can use for starting a collection of your own:

It Must Have Purpose

There must be a rhyme or reason to what you collect. It must be a personal choice. You should never have to look at what you’ve accumulated and ask, “Why do I have this?”

The Morgan assault on the art of Europe was not without reason. He did it expressly so that America could boast as much of the culture Europe’s coffers could offer. Frequently, art museums were the beneficiaries of this Morgan largess and showcased these works of art across the nation, allowing all to witness their beauty.

It Must Have Passion

Passion should play a role in what you chose to collect. If you cannot view your collection with wonder, then passion had little purpose in the collecting. Personally, I’ve always valued books passionately, they are the delight of my free hours. I’ve collected first edition books I’ve come across over the years, adding to it books of particular sentimental value to myself.

It Must Be Proper

Your collection should not be anything you would be ashamed to show your mother. Each item must be of such reputation as to not bring your character into question. There are some in this world who find joy in collecting the disgusting and unmentionable, but it is the folly of a few and not to be emulated.

It Must Have a Place

Before you start collecting, consider where you would place your cave of wonders. Is there a place in your home that is secure enough to house your prized possessions? Consider also the different needs of each kind of collection. Limited edition actions figures require a far different kind of storage and display than rare books.

Ideally there would also be a spot where you can showcase this collection to visitors and guests, allowing them to see the art you have chosen to collect, be it Legos or paintings.

A Word of Warning on Collecting

A collection is to be curated, each item chosen especially to suit your tastes and preferences. When you find yourself purchasing items for the sake of ownership, without joy of their contents, you’ve moved over the threshold towards obsession, or even worse, hoarding.

Passion, while it plays a part, cannot run the show. In your collecting you must be responsible, purchasing responsibly and avoiding over reaching. Your collection is a hobby, and takes a back seat to more pressing obligations like utilities and groceries.

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