THE COL­LEC­TOR

It doesn’t re­ally mat­ter what you col­lect — the chance to talk about it and share it, is a chance to con­nect

New Zealand Classic Car - - Local Market Report -

With the warmer weather be­com­ing more con­sis­tent and the longer sum­mer days ahead, noth­ing beats hav­ing a bar­be­cue with fam­ily and friends. It is also a great way to make new ac­quain­tances. It was pre­cisely dur­ing one such evening, and af­ter a cou­ple of beers, that the con­ver­sa­tion pro­gressed from one topic to an­other — rugby, work, fish­ing, hunt­ing — un­til we fi­nally hit the hot topic of ‘col­lect­ing’.

Col­lect­ing — the word has very ex­pen­sive con­no­ta­tions, I have come to re­al­ize, and it’s not a term that many take lightly.

I’m sure that most of you will know a col­lec­tor. Why do we col­lect? Why do we choose to col­lect what we col­lect? What are we try­ing to achieve? And, af­ter we have col­lected what we col­lect, then what?

Dur­ing one of my buy­ing trips, I was shown a col­lec­tion of num­ber plates — not just New Zealand num­ber plates but plates from around the world — hun­dreds of them, some hang­ing on the wall, some on stands in dis­play cab­i­nets, and oth­ers that are not so com­mon neatly wrapped in bub­ble wrap and stacked away in draw­ers. What a ded­i­ca­tion, what com­mit­ment — close to 60 years of a per­son’s life painstak­ingly spent col­lect­ing num­ber plates, most bought and oth­ers gifted. And the most ex­traor­di­nary ob­ser­va­tion: this man could tell me the ori­gin of the ma­jor­ity of these num­ber plates. He said that he oc­ca­sion­ally suf­fers from mem­ory loss but, I can con­firm, cer­tainly not when it comes to his num­ber plates.

Why do it?

As I waited at the air­port to board my flight back home from that trip, I could not help but drift back to the num­ber-plate col­lec­tion and pon­der why we col­lect.

Pri­mar­ily, col­lect­ing pro­duces a feel­good mo­ment; it is as­so­ci­ated with pos­i­tive emo­tions. There is hap­pi­ness in­volved, even if it’s just mo­men­tary, all the way from the ex­cite­ment of the hunt to adding a new find. And there is the joy of con­nect­ing with a his­tor­i­cal pe­riod, or the pres­tige of own­ing rare and valu­able items, and, ul­ti­mately, with some, the so­cial ca­ma­raderie. Oth­ers may add that they are pre­serv­ing his­tory.

From col­lect­ing match­boxes, to stamps, watches, model cars, and clas­sic cars, we are mo­ti­vated to sat­isfy the need for more — more of what we love and en­joy. Col­lect­ing is a way of re­lax­ing and a way of con­nect­ing with oth­ers. It re­duces stress and im­proves men­tal health, be­cause it re­quires time, ded­i­ca­tion, and fo­cus on study­ing the item and its his­tory, value, and many other char­ac­ter­is­tics. Col­lect­ing creeps into and be­comes part of your self-iden­tity and a mea­sure of how oth­ers iden­tify with you. And, as I re­treat in my thoughts, I too can put my hand up and con­firm that I am a col­lec­tor — but an am­a­teur col­lec­tor or a pro­fes­sional col­lec­tor? And what’s the dif­fer­ence?

When one col­lects purely for the love of col­lect­ing, out of en­joy­ment, with lit­tle thought paid to fi­nan­cial re­turn, then we re­fer to this per­son as an ‘am­a­teur col­lec­tor’. In con­trast, when one col­lects solely for a fis­cal re­turn — is com­merce mo­ti­vated — and hunts for col­lecta­bles only to turn around and sell them when the right price comes along, we are re­fer­ring to a ‘pro­fes­sional col­lec­tor’.

I can eas­ily iden­tify my­self as some­where in be­tween these two cat­e­gories — some cars in my col­lec­tion have been bought be­cause they link to my child­hood, to mem­o­ries. One such car that springs to mind is an Austin Princess. It ended up in my col­lec­tion as my daugh­ter refers to her­self as ‘my princess’. So, when this car came along, she said, “Dad, we should keep this car as it is named af­ter me!” She was barely five years old at the time, but, to­day, as a teenager, it is her pride and joy. Some may think that it’s a hideous-look­ing car, and when, on var­i­ous oc­ca­sions, I have been asked to sell it, her prompt an­swer is “it’s not about the money!”

And I think she makes a valid point — it is not about the money! Not ev­ery­one is a col­lec­tor by na­ture, but ev­ery­one can en­joy the ben­e­fits of col­lect­ing trea­sured items. There is an el­e­ment of re­lax­ation from see­ing one’s col­lec­tion. I quite en­joy shar­ing my car col­lec­tion with a few close friends — we get to­gether over a beer or two and talk cars. Some of them are sin­gle el­derly men, with no fam­ily of their own. They find that our gath­er­ings re­duce lone­li­ness and iso­la­tion. And these gentle­men bring a wealth of knowl­edge with them.

Harm­less fun, I must say, and, luck­ily, they all live within walk­ing dis­tance from me. But, for them, it means the world; it gives them some­thing to look for­ward to — and why not? Sadly, in this age of high-tech, we have lost our sense of oth­ers — we are liv­ing in this self-cen­tred, self-fo­cused era, when it is all about me! As the wise say­ing goes, we ‘should fear the day that tech­nol­ogy will sur­pass our hu­man in­ter­ac­tion. The world will have a gen­er­a­tion of id­iots!’

Let’s chat

Re­cently, there has been a lot of talk on so­cial me­dia and in news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines, etc., about men open­ing up about their prob­lems. A prob­lem shared is a prob­lem halved; it could be that, dur­ing one of these gath­er­ings, a friend feels com­fort­able open­ing up about some­thing that’s trou­bling them, or an un­der­ly­ing is­sue that they feel is be­yond their man­age­ment. As much as there are many or­ga­ni­za­tions out there that are spe­cial­ized and of­fer as­sis­tance in this arena, some­times it only takes a friend to frag­ment the moun­tain into a mole­hill.

So, as we make our way through the fes­tive sea­son and the hol­i­days we all look for­ward to, do not hes­i­tate to reach out to your mates — your col­lec­tion could be of use not solely to you but to oth­ers you con­nect with. And not to men­tion that other ben­e­fit of be­ing a col­lec­tor at this time of year: the fact that it fa­cil­i­tates gift pur­chas­ing for those around you.

Un­til next month, safe driv­ing — and reach out to your mates!

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