Friday, October 26, 2012

Constant Curiosity | Hunting & Gathering

[Cover]A few years ago, I decided that owning a whole lot of plain old books wasn't enough (this was before e-book readers came out) and that I had to own first editions and even autographed first editions.  I think  this particular obsession was an offshoot of other collecting enthusiasms plus that old treasure hunting lust, that took me to a local thrift store.  While browsing books, (and why not?) I happened upon an autographed, first edition copy of The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde  in almost new condition. 

Well.  I was like a duck on a junebug.  A big juicy junebug.   Then came research on first editions, first state, second state, number of printings and a whole arcania of terminology and information that I never knew existed. 

Since I do nothing by half, I not only looked into identification and price guides, but also read books by other collectors:  Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone and of course, fiction on book collecting such as John Dunning's Cliff Janeway mystery series.  It was all fascinating and kept me happily busy for a year or so. 

[Cover]Finally, I had had plenty of fun and was able to go on to collecting other things.  But I did ask myself: does owning more than two of anything make one a collector?  Or is it a desire to own more than two of anything?  When does the hunting and gathering gene kick in, causing one to become a devotee of ebay and estate sales and second-hand (aka antique) shops?   Is it a trip to the bookstore or library to study one of the many antiques and collectibles identification and price guides?  Is it the need to watch Antiques Road Show on PBS every week?  Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

Actually, I've decided that it's probably not a good idea for me to delve too deeply into my own collecting habits, for fear of inviting comparisons to the famous Collyer brothers of New York.   It's still a lot of fun, though, and feeds my habit of research, the need to know all about whatever it is I'm interested in at the time.  And that's when I'm glad the profession I'm in chose me.

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