Taking My Hacks

Preserving History

Joe Orlando

Everyone collects for different reasons. Some hobbyists do it because they love organizing and completing different types of collections. It is the collecting process that appeals to them. Some do it for the bragging rights, while others do it for the competition. A percentage of collectors do it for the investment aspect, some do it for the love of history and others are drawn to the hunt... the eternal hope that they might uncover a gem.

These are just some of the reasons why people collect but what ancillary benefits, if any, come as a result of their actions?

Well, most collectors don't think about it much. We are mostly focused on personal satisfaction. It sounds selfish but, of course, that is why people engage in any endeavor... because they enjoy it or benefit from it in some way. Rarely do we think about what bigger picture benefits are derived from the actions we take but these actions can benefit future generations of collectors and, in a sense, the collectibles themselves.

In a nutshell, what collectors do - by definition - is take items that usually have some relation to one another and bring them together. The collector builds a collection around natural association of some kind. The most obvious example of this is someone who assembles a traditional set of cards, often completing the set in somewhat uniform condition. Other examples would be the person who puts together a single-signed baseball collection from members of the 500 Home Run Club or someone who builds World Champion team sets of game-used items or tickets.

A collector of very high-end items recently told me one of the main reasons he collected. While this hobbyist really enjoys the items, the process and collects for many of the same reasons we all do, a big part of his motivation is to help preserve history. His approach to collecting is that he is merely the temporary custodian and protector of the items but, eventually, these items will have to move on. He takes what he does very seriously because he has respect for the historical value of the items. As a fellow hobbyist, I thought his outlook was refreshing to hear.

Don't mistake the purpose or tone of this column. By collecting, we are not curing cancer here or helping the homeless in any way, shape or form but it's not all about the money and it's not all about the bragging rights. It's about appreciating what the hobby has meant to you and passing on the enjoyment to future generations of people who will appreciate your efforts, even if they are not collectors themselves. The collection may be passed on to members of your own family or placed in a museum but, either way, your actions make that possible.

Think of it this way. When you view fine art at The Met in New York or view live animals at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, someone had to make an effort to ensure that you could see that rare Picasso painting or hand-feed that endangered Rhino. Your experience wouldn't be possible without it. What we do might not be comparable but the result - the benefit in context - is the same. Decades from now, hundreds of years from now, it's pretty cool to think that some young boy will have the chance to see or even touch a bat used by Babe Ruth, a card that came from a pack opened in 1952 or a document signed by Abraham Lincoln.

Whether you realize it or not, you are helping to preserve history and that is admirable no matter how big or small that contribution is.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief