One thing I have learned over the years is that there’s not enough time, money or space to collect everything I would like to collect. Because of this, I often have to set parameters for my personal collections. My Parameters of Collecting. For example, I like vintage computer software: Commodore 64 games are my favorite, but I also enjoy Apple II and old DOS game packages as well. The problem with collecting Commodore 64 games is that there were at least 20,000 official titles released for the system. Collecting every one of those would be impossible (again see: time, money, and space). So instead of collecting all of them, I’ll occasionally set up little mini-collections. For example, in the early 80s Electronic Arts began releasing their software in packaging that resembled vinyl albums.
Instead of collecting every Commodore 64 game, for a while I simply worked on collecting games that came in this style of packaging. Along with Electronic Arts a few other companies including Accolade and Mindscape also employed this style of packaging for a while, so I began collecting those as well. (Incidentally I had to abandon this particular collection fairly early on as it turns out many of these games are super expensive.) Anyway, that’s what I mean about setting up collection parameters — instead of collecting all of something, sometimes I will just collect a subset of those things.
Packaging is just one parameter you can set up for yourself. Another is price. Back when old console gaming cartridges were still plentiful at thrift stores and garage sales, I decided to buy every Atari 2600, NES, and Sega Genesis game I could find for less than $5. Believe me, that was a lot. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 NES cartridges, each of which cost me five bucks or less — same goes for Atari 2600 games. (I ended up selling my Genesis collection a few years back.)
As an avid Star Wars collector, I have had to set parameters of collecting many times on my collecting habits. Sometimes I will focus on a very specific subset of Star Wars related items, like Star Wars helmets or Star Wars lunchboxes or Star Wars Pez dispensers. Without doing that, you’ll drive yourself crazy (and broke) buying one of everything (or two of everything if you’re a “open one, keep one boxed” kind of guy.) The few times I didn’t have any personal parameters set up were the times I ended up with boxes of Star Wars Pogs, paper plates, napkins, and cereal lining my shelves.
I have some pretty tight parameters tied up around my vinyl record collection. Most of what I buy is kid-related albums (Sesame Street, Disney, or cartoon-related) that wasn’t released on CD. I also collect percussion and drum-based records, for music/sampling purposes. For a while I had no parameters for my album collecting and things got out of hand very quickly.
While it’s okay to occasionally okay to step outside these personal boundaries, I find operating within them gives me a finite goal to achieve (while keeping my wife happy as well!)
So what about you guys? What do you collect, if anything? And, do you have your own Parameters of Collecting set up for your collecting habits? Or do you just buy it all and hope there’s space for it when you get home?