Why Do People Collect?

Why do people collect stuff? There are television shows that feature people and their collections. You see the usual items such as stamps, matchbox cars, dolls and baseball cards. There are also collectors of teacups, robot toys, postcards, comic books and even airline barf bags. Some people collect model airplanes, pepper mills, remote controls, soda bottles and bottle caps. Some people collect valuable stuff like rare old coins, antiques, Faberge eggs and crystal vases.

For some it might be paintings, or shoes. What fan does not collect memorabilia from a favorite actor, movie, or show? Inanimate objects are not the only collectibles. Some people collect animals like reptiles, birds, or butterflies. Other people collect beautiful flowers like orchids or roses. There seems to be nothing too big or too small that people can spend time, effort and sometimes a great deal of money collecting, whether through a single purchase or cumulatively, to add or complete their collection.

It is not uncommon for collectors to hear exclamations of amazement or chagrin from their relatives and friends about the wisdom of collecting so much stuff, especially if the collection starts to occupy too much space in someone’s home. They will ask “why do people collect that kind of stuff? Don’t you have enough already? When will you stop collecting? There are many reasons why people collect. Foremost of course is their interest in the object or the theme of their collection.

Some people are so immersed in their collection that at times they become unofficial ‘experts’ on the object of their obsession. Another thing to consider is the reason for their interest. Some people collect because they really like the things they are collecting and would like to have more of them. Some people who collect believe that their collection will bring them a great deal of money one day. That is easy to believe since the sale of collectibles and collector’s items go quick on E-bay and other auction sites.

This compulsion to add or complete a collection is something that brings a question to the minds of those who do not understand this. Some anthropologists who study this behavior in humans believe it is an innate desire to complete something that they subconsciously feel and their channel to fulfill it is through their collection. Some hazard that they have childhood desires that remain unfulfilled so they make up for them in adult life.

Some people start collecting because they like accumulating beautiful stuff and they feel a sense of fulfillment by being surrounded with these things. Others treat collecting like a hunt. They achieve a sense of fulfillment when they acquire an object that is especially hard to find. Whether this is true or not, is something that only the collectors can answer if you ask “why do people collect stuff?”

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