Unbelievably, my local antique shop has a piece of citrine crystal! I don’t have one… and no rock collection is complete without citrine. While I’m here I’ll take a swing around and see if they have any antique license plates for my son’s collection, and if I’m lucky I might find a piece of blue glassware for my Mom. It is notably relaxing to me to peruse these stores, looking through pieces of history and imagining their stories.
I have several collections at home and I am always watching for treasures to add. Generally speaking, if your artifacts are organized and valuable, they are considered “a collection.” “Organized” has many perspectives, however. I have fists full of foreign coins and paper money that are all “organized” into one hand-woven basket from the Republic of Panama. They are certainly not separated by country or denomination and I have to sift through them at times looking for a particular piece.
On the other hand, I do have an antique penny collection where each coin is stowed neatly in a plastic pocket and labeled with the date in ascending order. I did not prepare that collection: It was handed down through the family. I also collect seashells, magnets from places I’ve visited, Hot Wheels cars, Star Trek memorabilia, and anything to do with lizards. Some collections more organized than others.
Whether collections are monetarily or sentimentally valuable, they allow us to express our personalities. Research completed by Mark McKinley in his Psychology of Collecting (2005, 2007) suggests that collecting may help relieve anxiety by fulfilling a part of one’s life they feel is missing or void of meaning. Collecting can also help keep us connected to our childhood or to a particular time period we are fond of, or ease insecurity about losing a part of ourselves (J. Rykwert, Why Collect? 2001).
From another psychological perspective, Carl Jung related modern day collecting to early “nut and berry” gathering and the primal need for archetypes and completion of sets. Unless collecting becomes an unhealthy obsession that leads to a hoarding disorder, it can be a fun and fulfilling pastime. Whatever you collect and whatever your reason for collecting, this hobby may actually benefit your mental health.