RINKER ON COLLECTIBLES — Column #1200 Copyright © Rinker Enterprises, Inc.
Why People Stop Collecting – Part II
There are five basic reasons why
collectors stop collecting—personal, financial, availability, contemporary
material, and issues arising as part of the collecting process.
Each divides into a number of subcategories.
Initially, I identified five
“personal” subcategories: (a) age / retirement, (b) divorce; (c) pressure from
the spouse and/or children; (d) emotional issues; and (e) death.
I was certain additional subcategories would become
evident as I continued to think about the concept.
Add “lack of time” to the personal list.
A previous “Rinker on Collectibles”
column explored the subcategories of age / retirement and divorce.
Pressure from the spouse and/or children is next.
In most relationships, one spouse or
The other does not.
The time the collector spends assembling the
collection, the costs ranging from purchase to travel, the space consumed by
display and storage, and the exchange with other collectors are a few of the
many collecting aspects the spouse tolerates, often with a smile on the face and
Collecting is not something that can be stopped “in
the name of love.”
What the collector fails to understand is the
spouse’s continual thoughts that the time and money could, perhaps should, have
been spent on us or me and not on another of those damn objects.
When each spouse or partner does
collect, they rarely collect the same thing.
He has his stuff.
She has her stuff.
I know couples who do collect the same thing, but
they are few in number.
Pressure begins when the spouse and
children come to the realization that when the collector dies, they are going to
be responsible for the disposal of the collection.
Having little to no knowledge of the collection—how
large it is, the many places where it is stored, who can and cannot be trusted
for advice, and the collection’s value—the disposal prospect becomes
The pressure increases when the couple is faced with
downsizing to move into a smaller home or retirement community.
The collector does not accept the
“you cannot take it with you” adage.
He believes he can.
The collector knows better, but has no desire to
face this reality.
As the collector becomes older, the
A sudden temporary illness is an excuse to advance
the disposal agenda.
The get-rid-of-it chorus expands to relatives and
The collector faces the prospect of being hounded to death
until he agrees to sell.
It takes a strong individual to
withstand the onslaught.
Most eventually succumb to the pressure.
The warm hand theory prevails—better to dispose of
a collection with a warm hand than a cold one.
A collector’s emotions are complex.
When trifled with or altered, the result can be
The collector is passionate, in love with what he
The objects are animate—real, alive, breathing.
From the hunt to research to display,
collecting is about fun.
When the fun disappears, the urge to collect
diminishes, even vanishes.
Assembling and maintaining a collection is hard
However, the collector does not view what he/she does as
The work spent on the collection is actually soothing and
Collecting helps the collector escape from the realities
of the real world.
Aside: I will be involved in the antiques and
collectibles business as long as it is fun.
When it becomes work, I am gone.]
An increase in a collector’s
seriousness transitions collecting from fun to work.
Quality collecting is pressure free.
When pressures such as having to be at a particular
antiques show when it opens or on a computer when an auction closes mount, a
subtle shift in mental attitude occurs.
Instead of relief, the collector begins to feel
The collector begins to see the collection through
a new, jaded set of eyes.
Questions begin to arise, the most
frightful being” Do I need another?”
An active collector never questions need.
The mere fact that he sees and wants something is
all the justification required.
Questions drive away fun.
If the collector is not careful, he slips into a
When operating at full strength,
collectors have no problems finding time to devote to their collection.
Business and family obligations are ignored.
The collection always comes first.
It is amazing how retirement changes this.
“I am busier now than when I worked.”
Retirement is the start of a new life.
Couples can now do things together.
Grandma and the children increase pressure to
become better acquainted with the grandchildren.
“We finally can travel to all those places we have
never had a chance to visit before.”
Change is the order of the day.
We no longer live in a Couch Potato world.
New and exciting things to do challenge the time
the collector previously spent on his collection.
it more invigorating and rewarding to find time to do something when one does
not have the time available than when one does?
The answer appears to be yes.
Death is the final arbiter.
If there is a God, I want to be buying rather than
selling an antique or collectible when I drop dead.
Death is final proof that the collector really
meant it when he said, “it is not about the money.”
Resisting the pressures of personal
reasons to cease collecting is easier than resisting the pressures created by
The financial reasons why a collector stops
collecting divide into four subcategories: (a) financial necessity; (b) recoup
funds; (c) affordability; and (d) unstoppable decline in a collection’s value.
In theory, collecting is driven by
In reality, a collector is prepared to do whatever
it takes to acquire an object he/she desires.
In many cases, “to spend” can be substituted for
“to do” in the previous sentence.
Collecting is fun as long as the collector has
money to spend.
Charging a purchase on a credit card or negotiating
a layaway presents no problem.
When a collector’s financial
resources become tight, collecting is not fun.
The collector avoids going to auctions, flea
markets, mall, shops, and shows.
Time spent on the Internet lessens.
has no desire to see things he cannot buy.
Even worse, the prospect that the object may wind
up in the hands of a rival is cataclysmic.
Failure to hunt also decreases the amount of social
interaction with other collectors, dealers, and friends.
Divorce (covered in a previous
column), loss of job, a decline in the stock market, illness, and family issues
are just a few of the causes for loss of purchase funds.
Retirement also is an issue, but only for older
It usually does not become a consideration until the
collector is in his mid-60s to early-70s.
Although I have no proof other than
my own gut feeling, once a collector is forced to cut back or abandon collecting
because of financial reverses, he will not resume collecting with the same
degree of intensity when his financial situation improves.
In fact, he may never return.
Once the collector learns to live without, the
passionate need to possess diminishes.
When financial reversal occurs, the
collector is forced to consider the sale of some or all of his collection as one
of the solutions for financial relief.
Reaching this conclusion is painful.
It hurts even more when the financial reversal
occurs during an economic slump, thus increasing and perhaps ensuring the
probability that the collection will sell at a loss.
Further, the collector is aware his
collection is not easy to liquidate.
A forced sale is a disaster.
It takes time to develop and implement a viable
When a collector parts with part or
all of his collection, he equates it to selling his soul; doing business with
If it has to be done, the sooner it is over the better.
Again, the long-term effects are devastating.
The chance of the collector returning to collecting
I will finish my analysis of the financial reasons and
explore the availability issues that cause collectors to cease collecting in my
next “Rinker on Collectibles” text column.
REQUEST FOR HELP:
a previous column, I asked my readers to share with me why they stopped
I received over 40 e-mails.
Thanks to everyone who wrote.
If you did not, I would like to hear from you.
Send your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Stop Collecting, Rinker on Collectibles,