Kaan Günderen

Ever since I was a child, I was accused of being a sort of a hoarder because of how much I liked collecting things I found interesting. And unlike many hoarders, the things I like to collect are not usually things such as paper napkins, toothpicks or stolen sugar packs from my local coffee shop. I was always more interested in collecting items that I believed would make me happy in a way, even if they are not used for their original purpose.

I never really acknowledged this little hobby of mine as something serious, however, a month ago I had the opportunity to go back and visit my parents in Turkey, and as I entered my room I’ve realized that I positioned my entire room in a way that it would be able to hold all of the separate collections I have, ranging from vinyl records to trading cards I’ve gathered over more than ten years.

Realizing that I cared enough about the things I’ve collected to design my room layout after them, I got into thinking about what may have caused my interests in these things I’ve collected. Of course, they were all items that represented my areas of interests, such as music, sports or video games, but I could never really put my finger on why it made me so happy to see them all together in a collection and acknowledging that I own so many of them.

After doing a bit of research, I’ve realized that the fascination with collecting objects starts early in childhood and has to do with the emotional attachment we make between lifeless objects, believing that they can offer us comfort and peace. I am sure everybody had a stuffed toy or a soft blanket that keeps on popping up in all of their childhood pictures, and this occurrence sums up the situation perfectly for this case. Another aspect to consider while trying to figure out why collecting things makes us happy is the nostalgic value they bring to the table. Collections are things that can be left behind or can be great reminders of what we’ve went through in different times of our lives, that forms a certain personal legacy. This personal legacy may fill individuals with a sense of pride and nostalgia, which are human emotions that are usually welcomed.

Every individual can be considered a collector, since the things we collect do not always have to be in a solid state. As an example, an individuals train of thoughts can be seen as a giant collection of memories and experiences, which may be considered more valuable than most collectible items. A different perspective regarding this topic can be observed by looking at the importance of value and knowledge, since respected scholars, artists and professionals are making livelihoods off of their collections that they store in their brains.

A rather “weird” way of looking at the debate would be to consider the enjoyment that comes from collecting memorabilia that has to do with concepts we are fans of, such as sports teams, or in most cases, celebrities. The emotional connections that an individual can form with pop cult phenomenon is likely to bring color to his/her life, therefore certain situations that comes from being a fan of a certain thing can result in interesting outcomes, such as the sale of Justin Timberlake’s unfinished French toast that was sold for 1000 USD back in 2006.

While the emotional and existential side of the debate as a whole is surely interesting, it is important to remember that collectors can make serious profits from their purchases in the current world as well. Thanks to the meteoric rise in the usage of social media platforms, we can be informed about the various purchases that celebrities have made for their personal collections revolving around art, music or sports memorabilia. However, it is also possible to find ourselves bits and bobs we personally would love to collect and own thanks to second hand sale sites such as eBay.

The monetary compensation for a certain collectable is determined by a number of things, including rarity, usefulness, emotional attachment and most importantly, popularity. If an item is rare and is part of a popular phenomenon, it is likely that its sale price will be relatively higher. Therefore, many collectors are wiling to pay serious prices to purchase items that may grow to be valuable over time, and this situation caused an inflation in prices for certain products and has helped the growth of many industries such as clothing, toys and music. Many companies have seen this as an opportunity to create buzz and boost sales and are now offering buyers limited edition collectable items by collaborating with admired public figures. Overall, it is possible to say that collecting is an act that every individual can engage in, whether to pursue monetary benefits, find comfort, or most interestingly, survive the current world they live in.