What makes a successful collector?
Just like many collectors, my disease covers a number of different collectibles. Personally, I find numismatic literature, Rookwood pottery, fountain pens, and other antique items to be almost irresistible.
One of my vocations is that of an auctioneer. This brings me into contact with a very diverse group of collectors. Recently while representing Humler/Nolan Auctions, the premier seller of Rookwood and related pottery located in Cincinnati, Ohio, I was asked what defined a successful collector. I had given this a great deal of thought in the past and I believe the answer can be used no matter the genre of one’s collection.
What are your thoughts? Is value and profit potential the benchmark for your idea of success. Is it completeness? Is it the fame that it may bring during acquisition or when it comes time to sell? My thoughts are a little different. My definition can cover everyone from a beginning collector just acquiring the first items for his collection or the grizzled veteran purchasing that last piece needed for completion.
Quite simply I define success in the enjoyment that the ownership of the item supplies to the collector. If every time you look at a particular item in your collection you smile, and think more of the pride of ownership rather than how much you paid or how much the piece is worth, I believe you are a winner.
If you as the collector worries obsessively about the money spent on acquisition then it is likely that the money should have been spent elsewhere. As Dr. Sheldon said, “Do not invest more in any luxury, than you feel you can good-humoredly afford to lose.” This is an axiom that many collectors refuse to respect, especially as they transition from a “collector” to “investor," a very dangerous metamorphosis.
So, take this test with any of your collections. Look at one of your prize possessions and what is the first thing to come to your mind? Is it the cost or value of the item, or does a smile come to you face knowing you are the temporary custodian of that particular piece of history? There, you have your answer as to whether you are successful. (Or not ... )