Friday, April 10, 2015

Keeping Your Collection from Getting Out of Hand

A recent article titled "What personal collectors can learn from museums" gives advice to private collectors.  I read the article and realized that I apply most all of the practices to the way I collect books.  Let's look at some of the article's points.

"Have you thought about exactly what kind of thing you’re collecting?.....You may start out with a wide scope and decide to narrow it over time."

I have gradually expanded what I collect over the years, but I have always kept it within certain constraints.  Nancy Drew is the only series for which I have aggressively pursued most all formats and variations, but even with Nancy Drew, I have placed constraints on what I purchase.  I love international editions, but I only purchase them when I like the appearance of the cover.  If I don't like the style of some international sets, I don't purchase them.

I have sold some international editions because they were too large and didn't fit well on the shelf.  I recall a large Swedish Nancy Drew picture cover book that I once had.  I didn't like how it stood a couple of inches taller than the other books, so I sold it.  That might sound strange, but it fits perfectly with the idea of me not keeping books that I don't like as much.  I don't have enough room to purchase or keep books for the sake of having them.

I don't have a set of Nancy Drew flashlight editions.  I once did, but I sold them when I gradually increased my sets of library editions and other variants.  I decided that the books I was buying were more important.  I sold my Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mysteries, Nancy Drew On Campus, and Nancy Drew Notebooks at around the same time.  I didn't care about them, and I needed the space.

"What are your priorities for adding to your collection? Do you have some holes in your collection that you want to fill? What’s your budget?"

My focus is on what I am currently interested in reading.  I decided in recent months to read the Troy Nesbit, Brains Benton, and Power Boys series.  As a result of that desire, I purchased books in those series.

Early in my collecting, I had to do without many books since I didn't have the funds to purchase everything.  Since I have most books that I want, I am able to afford what I wish to purchase.
"When do items get removed from your collection?.....And if the scope of your collection has changed over the years, you may find items that no longer seem to fit."

I partially addressed this in my first response, but here are a few more points.  I also sell books that I did not particularly enjoy reading or did not enjoy enough to keep.  It's not enough for the book to have a nice dust jacket with lovely vintage art.  I have to have enjoyed reading the book enough to want to keep it.

I have sold some collectible items because I decided that I no longer care.  For instance, I tend not to keep autographed items, since autographs don't mean much to me.

"Museums only display part of their collection at any time, rotating the items on display....Just as a museum would, you will want to consider whether items in your collection need to be kept at any specific range of temperatures and humidity.....You’ll also want to think about how to keep fragile items from being broken when on display and when being stored."

For me, the biggest consideration is my cats.  I have had a few books damaged by cats over the years.  They sometimes knock down books on lower shelves.  One time a cat threw up on a softcover Boxcar Children book that fortunately was nothing special.  That book had to be thrown away since the result was quite gross.  Another time a cat made a long deep scratch in the spine of a book.  Therefore, I keep my most valuable books up high and away from the cats.

I also never store any of my books in the attic, in the garage, or in an outbuilding.  The temperature and humidity are too variable in those locations.

"Would you ever consider loaning out items in your collection?"  

Absolutely not.  I also would never accept a loan from another collector.  I wouldn't feel comfortable having someone else's book in my possession, and I wouldn't be comfortable loaning a book to someone else.

"If you have a large collection, not all on display, having an inventory will help you remember what’s being kept where."

I had a written inventory that I kept up quite well until around 2001, then I went to sticky notes placed inside the books.  That meant that I didn't have a good record.  I took care of that last summer when I put all of my books on LibraryThing.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I have such problems figuring out the limit of my collection. I always find something cool that I love and it's so difficult to stick to my the objective of my book collecting.