To Have And To Hold: An Intimate History Of Collectors and Collecting Hardcover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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