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.