Sunday, February 17, 2019

What Type of Collection Do You Have?

Early APIC Collector Joe Fuld with his collection
Over the last few years, I have seen more and more collections of political items from a myriad of different people and backgrounds. Everyone is proud of their collection and they should be. It doesn't matter if you have a collection of a dozen items or thousands of items. It doesn't matter if your collection is mostly of free items or if you have to store your collection in a safe deposit box at the bank. Some collections fit into a dresser drawer, some take up a wall in the den and others fill up storage units! So long as it follows the first maxim of our hobby (collect what you like) your collection can be whatever size you desire. Still, throughout all these years now of collecting political items, I have discovered a few commonalities to the types of collections that exist.



When you work in politics, you are susceptible to the most basic of collections. This type of collection is what I call The Activist Collection. Depending on the experience and the number of years on the hustings can reveal a lot about the political leanings of the collector. Many activist collectors save mementos from that special campaign, single day event or election night party. Often people hold onto a button, sticker or poster of the campaign they worked on. Issues they felt passionate about. Sometimes these collections show immense changes in the activists political leanings over time. I have seen collections of individuals who started out as young people working or volunteering for Barry Goldwater and those same people later put in the time for candidates like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.  Equally, I've seen collections from people who were passionate about Ted Kennedy and Micheal Dukakis go on to support John McCain and Mitt Romney.

The Activist Collection tells your journey through politics. When I inherited a collection of a fellow activist, I always photograph the collection as is before I sort it into my wider collection. These collections often have event badges and specialized materials with the name of the activist on them.

While The Activist Collection can be simple on the extreme another end of the collecting spectrum is what I call The Pokemon Collection. If you are of a certain generation either as a parent or child you are familiar with Pokemon. If not, just click the link. This is a 'Gotta Have Them All' collector who will sometimes spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on their collection. They often have a home office or even home bursting with political items. They collect national, state, and local items. It might seem that there is no method to their collecting madness. They got the bug and the buck to match it!

This is also the kind of collection that may be intimidating to the noncollector or beginner.  My advice has always been: Never let another person's collection define yours. While this size of the collection is not for everyone, those that do have these kinds of collections create a really cool space for their collections. Some take them on the road to show off, others have websites that utilize the collection for educational and commercial purposes.

The third type of collection is The Specialist Collection. These are collections that can have a laser focus on a particular topic or candidate. If the item doesn't fall within the area covered by the specialist, they move on very quickly. Think of your favorite candidate, election, type of item. There might be someone who only collects posters from the Obama campaigns. There were a lot of posters from 2008 and 2012! Maybe they only collect political pens and pencils. These collections may prove difficult to get rid of when the time comes to downsize or sell one's collection. It might take a very special collector who also appreciates the same thing as you do.

Another type of collection that I would like to cover in this post is The Inherited Collection. This is a collection that you fell into from a family member most likely and might be confused about what to do with a collection. Maybe you didn't even know it existed and your first instinct was to ebay it, but as you started going through it you found it more and more interesting. You decided to keep the collection and add your own experiences to it. I have often seen friends and family pick up the torch for a loved one that passes unexpectedly that enjoyed political item collecting. They keep the collection going for a time in memory of their loved one.

Do you have one of these collections? Think your collection might be different? The one we didn't cover was Public/Private Collections owned by institutions. These collections rarely grow once they fall into an archive at a museum or university. Let us know what other kinds of collections you might classify.

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