There are as many types of collections as there are things to collect. There are museums devoted to collections of objects from the mundane to the precious, from the serious to the ridiculous.
One great-uncle had a small collection of perhaps 15-20 antique telephones that were displayed in a barely organized jumble in a room heaped with other old, collected things loosely referred to as a collection themselves. People called him a packrat. Another relative had a collection of salt and pepper shakers that he was so proud of he built it its very own shed behind his house outside Wichita. Each shaker and its mate were organized according to style, size and era. Pepper on the left, salt on the right. People called him a collector.
As a child, I remember being truly fascinated by other children who had clear, organized collections of things that must have been quite precious. Stamps in protected plastic sleeves, bugs carefully pinned to a wax board and framed in a glass case, even a delicate glass menagerie with each piece placed with absolute precision in a curio cabinet. I marveled at these things. Clearly, the care with which they were displayed meant they were very valuable indeed, perhaps special to the point of being irreplaceable. Invaluable.
But, what, exactly determines the value of an object or collection? Age? Rarity? Size? Beauty? Who produced it? Is the value monetary or sentimental? For that matter, what is a collection?
103 railroad spikes, individually sewn silk casings, silk pillow, nails
-January 2005
Special thanks to my husband Brad for his support and for putting up with my insanity, to my mother for bailing me out and helping me sew, to Patti Jauch for encouraging me to follow this odd tangent and to Cynthia Siegel for helping me carry several pounds of railroad spikes.