In the latest episode of VSauce2, host Kevin Lieber offers an incredibly insightful look at why people collect specific items, collectors throughout history and the psychological reasons people may have for collecting.
Collecting is when this protection becomes a passion. But being a collector requires access to and the availability of objects. Historically, only the elite had access…as with any true collector, there was no saturation point. Just as eating food provides temporary hunger fulfillment, so does obtaining a new object. …For a collector, the satisfaction from attaining a new piece quickly subsides… and the hunt resumes. Collecting as a form of preserving the past confirms our belief that there must be an infinite truth. Life existed before me and it will exist after me, and “Here’s the proof.” …And collecting as a form of establishing one’s identity is a celebration of individuality because no two collections are the same. Your button, coin or card collection creates a conceptual circle of magic that wards off uncertainty and chaos, helps define you, and proves not only that you exist, but that you are unique. A collection is a secure micro world of order entirely controlled by you in a macro world of chaos… but that becomes a problem when the toy trains control the conductor.