It’s a new year, and a good time to new look at some collecting habits I have, or wish I had. And perhaps a few things I do/have done that I regret in this political collecting hobby. Many of these cross over to other collecting hobbies as well.
- Attend at least three political collectibles shows this year. Shows are the best way to add quality items at reasonable prices to your collection.
- Don’t buy items I’m not familiar with. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Even as an experienced collector, I’ve been burned by fakes. I won’t let my heart rule my head this year.
- Avoid buying $2 items on Internet auction sites that have $5.95 shipping fees attached. When you are collecting small pinback buttons, there’s no reason shipping in a padded envelope should exceed $1.50 to $2 unless the seller is making their profit off of the postage. I’ll be sure to check the shipping fees before bidding.
- Keep in better touch with my fellow collectors. This past year, I have reconnected with some collectors I haven’t seen in a while, and found new ones through APIC’s Facebook, and these connections have brought many good things to my collection in the past year.
- Restraint. Probably the hardest thing for die-hard collectors to learn is restraint. It’s still hard for me after more than 40 years of collecting. Just because someone offers me an item I don’t have, it doesn’t mean I have to have it at any cost. Chances are good that most items are not one-of-a-kind and another will show up that I might get at a better price. If it doesn’t, there are still plenty of other items that will come along to fill that need for something new in my collection.
- Watch out for my friends. Sometimes I see great items up for auction that aren’t for me, and I pass on them. I pledge this year to try to remember my friends and what they collect, and notify them when I see items I think they might want. Several friends last year called my attention to some great items I ended up with in my collection.
- Items that have severe damage probably are not items that belong in my collection. I can live with minor damage, even if some collectors cannot. However, those items that are damaged heavily should be avoided, no matter how rare. Is it better to have a badly damaged item in my collection, or not have that item at all? It’s a tough choice, but “not at all” is usually the right choice. When you do find the “perfect” version, many times it’s then nearly impossible to get rid of the damaged one unless you manage to find another “must have it” type collector. They aren’t always that easy to find.
- Control the “must have it all” urge. For those of us with the “collector’s gene,” this is a powerful force. The urge to complete a collection can be strong, but with political items it’s important to remember that a collection is never completed. There will always be something out there that you don’t have – it’s the nature of the hobby. It’s not like coin collecting where you know what was made and you get one of each and your set is complete.
As I begin another year of collecting, I vow to try to keep these pledges, as painful as some might be.