I am a collector of a great many things. My house is packed with my collections. I have major collections such as Star Wars, action figures, comics, DVDs, and books. Then there are my minor collections like wind-up toys, Minions and Little Green Men form Toy Story. I have been a collector for as long as I can remember, it is for me and so many others, a way of life.
But not everyone understands this way of life. While most people who come over are impressed by my collections, I have encountered people who see my level of collecting as being hoarding. They are unable to grasp the passion for collecting and instead write it off as someone just keeping and becoming attached to a bunch of junk.
I am not going to go into what hoarding is here, but you can go do the research and learn what actual hoarding is. It is a real serious condition that can screw up a person life. It is noticeably different from actual collecting though.
I can look through my collections and find various pieces that I know the history of and can tell people a story about. Those are my favorite pieces, because they have a story behind them. I will admit most of the pieces in my collections do not have interesting stories, that does not make them worthless. All the pieces have a worth to them, even if there are not financially valuable or rare.
A good, true collector is to some degree a historian. Looking through a collection should show a level of history with-in it. A collector who knows the stories behind the pieces, knows their origins, has a tell about how they acquired them and can talk about them at length, bring a sense of history and importance to those objects. I talked in a past post about comic books being relevant as historical documents. To some degree that same logic can be applied to most any true collection.
I will use Star Wars as an example here. In my collection I have pieces from all areas of the nearly forty years of Star Wars merchandise. You can compare the action figures to see how the action figure market has evolved during that time. The packaging also reflects the era in which they were produced, often being just as interesting to a collector as the toys themselves. In my collection I can show the ups and downs of the popularity of Star Wars as well as the trends in toys through the years. Due to the popularity of Star Wars the merchandise has followed trends and technology during that time, reflecting the changes in society.
Most real collectors I know will tell you the stories and often are hard to get to stop talking about the collections they are really passionate about. They collect because it excites them to find new pieces. And while they know what pieces are monetarily valuable, they also have pieces that they think are awesome but have no monetary value to them.
There is a need for collectors in society. They do serve a purpose.