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What Makes People Want to Collect Things?

Updated on March 30, 2017

What Do People Collect?

Whether we collect tangible items, or not, we do collect intangible things such as our thoughts and memories. We go to yard or estate sales and flea markets looking for someone's lost treasure or the best bargain of a collectible item that gets added to a valuable collection or perhaps triggers a childhood memory. We collect memories through saved photographs, scrapbooking, or family members and good friends.

The list is ongoing of what people collect, i.e., antiques, stamps, coins, photos, books, and trust me, this is only naming a few. The behavior of collecting, though, could become problematic if it isn't performed in an organized fashion.

Horse Collecting

The above photo depicts a collection of horses that are well kept and organized. This is an example of healthy collecting. The horses are also nicely displayed.

Collecting as a Hobby

I collect postcards. For years, family, friends and co-workers have mailed me postcards from their vacations or they bring one back. I enjoy them more when they are mailed so the back displays the postal marked stamp from place of origin. I have collages made of my postcards and keep them all in one place otherwise. Some represent memorable trips and span over a long period of time. They are a part of my life's journey.

I also have a collection of cups from other states I have traveled to, but they are of practical use too, so they are not displayed. They are used. I would catagorize them as a memorable collection. This does not mean I have 50 cups. When I was a teenager, I started collecting frogs, so for about 20 years, people were giving me frogs every year--plastic ones, ceramic ones, stuffed frogs, yard frogs, etc. I decided over 11 years ago, it was time to let them go. I outgrew the desire. I can't even tell you why I started the collection. I remember one holiday after opening a friend's gift, I know I was thinking, "oh boy, another frog...." I was grateful, but I finally had to start telling people that it was okay not to get me frogs anymore. One year my Dad gave me a huge poster with an unattractive frog on it and it was so big, it was scarry. He was really happy to get me that poster. I accepted it graciously. I just never framed it. So, you have to be careful sometimes what you tell people about the things you like.

I am obsessed about family photographs and most are in scrapbooks. I believe family history is important, so I try to keep them organized. Photographs are more than a collection of faces, they represent history.

Historical & Valuable Collections

Some people collect old artifacts or items that are no longer manufactured as a hobby or due to the potential monetary value.

My daughter still has her collection of Holiday Barbie dolls which have not been opened. She also collected key chains which were organized on a stand because she liked them. She also has all the original Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins she received over 25 years ago. She could choose to sell them or use them in her baby nursery. When she was a teenager, she collected masks and they are still displayed on her old bedroom wall.

Everything we collect in a well kept and organized fashion is an uplifting habit or hobby. They remind us of experiences or bring enjoyment as a collectible is discovered.

When is Collecting a Problem?

If a collector starts putting everything being collected onto every piece of furniture or into boxes lining hallways, this is a sign of a problem.

If collecting becomes such an obsession that all your money is going into purchases that continue to gather in your rooms, this is an unhealthy sign.

If collections begin to take over your life and there is no reason as to why you are collecting certain items, and these items are not well kept, there is a problem.

Over-collecting can turn into the anxiety driven behavior of hoarding, an act of collecting anything, including clutter, and having the inability of letting go of any of it.


Submit a Comment
  • smw1962 profile image


    3 years ago

    I've been a collector since I was a child, and probably always will be! Great hub.

  • CatherineGiordano profile image

    Catherine Giordano 

    4 years ago from Orlando Florida

    I also did a hub about collecting. I saw yours because we are both fans of Edith Piaf and we both did hubs about her. I agree with your conclusions about healthy collecting--you explained it really well.

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    RBJ, thank you for your comment. It's appreciated. I think a lot of us collect things for comfort.

  • RBJ33 profile image


    6 years ago

    Nice hub - cool subject. I think collecting gives some folks a little sense of security - having memories - connecting to something that is warm and safe. My mother had things that had owls on them - she said it made her think of when she was a child on a farm.

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Talullah, thanks much for your comment. I collect postcards and save anything that can be put in a scrapbook. My daughter has a collection of Barbies and remember Care Bears? She has all of them! It's memory keeping. It's comfort. It's fun!

  • Talullah profile image


    7 years ago from SW France

    Interesting hub; I collect old books, vinyl records, and old patterns (knitting, crochet, sewing) amongst other things. I think collecting, as long as it's not obsessive, is great because it preserves things that may otherwise be lost forever. If people didn't collect, we'd have no museums!

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Victoria, thanks for stopping by. I think you're just fine. I collect things and my daughter does to. I think it's just fine to collect things as long as they don't take over your life and pocketbook. I like to say I'm a healthy packrat! Have a good rest of the week and weekend!

  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 

    7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

    I collect too many things! I don't spend a lot of money on them, though, and my collections haven't been added to in a while. So maybe I'm okay. :-) Interesting hub! Sharing!

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    epi, thanks very much for your comment and kind words.

  • epigramman profile image


    7 years ago are what I would call an 'essential' hubber because you are prolific and you match quantity with quality - and this is a great subject to tackle and the question is even more provocative - with a posting to my Facebook page with a direct link back here to get the proverbial ball rolling so to speak - lake erie time ontario canada 6:04am and yes I am a collector too - lol - of vinyl records, cds, dvds, mojo and uncut magazines etc. etc. books too and pictures on walls although I'm running out of them - walls, that is!

  • BlissfulWriter profile image


    7 years ago

    Collecting as a hobby is great. But compulsive hoarding is different and is actually a psychology disorder categorized as "obsessive compulsive disorder" (or OCD).


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