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To Have And To Hold: An Intimate History Of Collectors and Collecting Hardcover

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Stories and more.. Feb. 17 2007
By Stephen Balbach - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At first I thought this was going to be a survey of some eccentric collectors in history, on which is does not disappoint, but it turns out to be a lot richer and contain some real pearls of wisdom about life in general, and flashes of historical insight.

Reading through the chapters of this book was a lot like rummaging through a private collectors cabinet of curiosities. The chapter titles alone don't provide direction and only after a few pages does it begin to reveal its treasure. Chapters cover aspects of collecting as diverse as: people who collected experiences with women (Casanova), the collecting of body parts (religious relics), collecting memories, American billionaires who bought up European heritage (JP Morgan, Hearst), collectors of mass-produced items (milk bottles, food wrappers), Princes and Kings such as Rudolf of Hapsburg (17th C) who filled his castle with the worlds greatest collections and slowly went mad, collecting as a madness, as a substitute for love, as a form of autism, as psychology, as crime - and in the end, as a warning to all those who take it too far.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Absorbing and fascinating Feb. 22 2007
By Joy Kearney - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that takes you on a fascinating journey, is an enjoyable read and is also historically well-researched, so it can therefore be used by the student or academic as a useful reference. I came upon it quite by accident but now find it a very useful addition to my bookshelf. The story of the Ashmolean Museum's foundation was one of my particular favourites and really made my blood boil! Such stories are not often told about museum collections! I take my hat off to the author!
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Worlds of wonder May 30 2003
By Carlos - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Absorbing and beautifully written, with a great bibliography to lead you on in your travels through this fascinating genre. Blom does for the general subject of collecting what Basbanes did for bibliophilia in A Gentle Madness. Well worth the read.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
"Then I realized that the thing I love is stuff" Alex Shear,the Noah of American life. July 18 2008
By J. Guild - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this excellent book,Philipp Bloom tackles a subject that knows no bounds.Anyone who has been a collector of anything knows what a madness collecting can become. Blom covers the subject from the earliest days ,when the idea of collecting was only something that was in the world of the extremely rich and powerful;and covers how through history it has changed to become a pursuit by anyone and at any level;and with the objects being collected being endless.
Over and over again ,throughout the book ;we see that no matter how great and extensive a collection is;the owner of the collection must face the reality of death,and the collection of objects must pass on as well.The book is loaded with maxims that apply to all collecting;

Just a couple are;

"In order to take objects out of circulation or to devote oneself to finding useless things,one has to be able to afford the time and resources to do so."

"The most important object of a collection is the next one."

"Whatever we collect,we have to kill."

"Can one be a collector without collecting?"

"Show me your library and I'll tell you who you are."

"Every passion borders on chaos,that of the collector on the chaos of memory."

"Those who own more find dying harder."

Reading this book is somewhat like visiting "The Smithonion";but only having a couple of hours to do so.It is well written,so it is still a pleasure.It is filled with interesting stories,unbelievable pursuits,amazingly addicted people,and something new,interesting and different on every page.
In the last 200 years,collecting has changed so much that it is something that can ,and is, taken up by the "common man" There are no rules and no limits as to what can be collected;and the only limits are time and imagination. Of course,money can be an issue,but not a necessity.
One of my favorite books is "Cadallac Jack" by Larry McMurtry,about an antique buyer and collections in the southern United States.It is filled with eccentric collectors.Imagine a collector in Texas who filled his house with bird nests. A great read for any collector.
I have collected several things over the years.Stamps,in my youth.Rocks,Minerals and Fossils,Puzzles,Yo-Yo's,and of course books. I retired at 56,and my "collections" give me endless enjoyment.
I think the thing that is most thoughtful about this book is the question "Can one be a collector without collecting?" Many people build collections such as playing different golf courses,visiting different countries,sport events,etc. I am also an avid Birdwatcher.I have seen 598 different birds in North America. We call that a "life List" and it is as much a personal collection as someone who attempts to the most World Series or any other events. I consdider my Bird Life List just as much of a collection as my other collections.
Blom has also included copious notes that give the reader a wealth of references if he wants to dig deeper into subjects he mentions in the book.
Collecting is Fun Nov. 22 2010
By Mike B - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
An interesting read on how collecting started, at first with the Lordly and wealthy. The first collections were very general - in an age of universal wisdom and corresponding universal illiteracy! These early collections were everything - stones, plants, cadavers, art books... Later collectors became more specialized and in our current age more accessible. In fact everyone becomes a collector and everything collectible by mass production. Children become indoctrinated at an early age to collect.

Some of the early chapters are somewhat esoteric.

The author makes an interesting comparison between serious collections (or collectors) and autism - also between immortality and collections. The collection is the persons' view of utopia.

Some good quotes:
Page 139 Collectors refute Gertrude Stein's claim `a rose is a rose is a rose' (Gertrude Stein was herself a collector)
Page 157 The most important object of a collection is the next one
Page 157 Conquest is followed by disillusionment and the necessity for further conquests