I have always had a collectors mind in wich I have put great meaning into material things. Collections of early stamps from the Swedish post, Pepsi-Cola bottles from foreign countries, drafting tools from the 1910s to 1970s to mention some. But sooner or later I had always found myself thrown into a situation I could not handle. The stamps got too expensive and suddenly I had paid 600 Euros in an auction for a thin and smelly piece of paper, the bottles of Pepsi turned into demons in my dreams in wich I crawled around in warehouses trying to catch them before they smashed. The intricate mechanisms of the drafting pencils occupied my mind to the extent that I stopped drawing.

   I just always had to sell, give away or throw my collections at the end to survive, and this has set its marks. I was afraid of loosing myself to materia. Soon I could not even keep a normal set of furniture in my home before I figured out ways of how to dispose them. I was afraid they would take over my life. I had become a minimalist!

   To come over this I started with self therapy and I did it by beginning playing disc golf. It's a playful sport in wich You continously throw away an object (the Frisbee) and retreat the same. This worked fine before I discovered the joy of collecting frisbees, old and new, different molds, wheights, flightabilities...

My traditionally art work has always had a collectors mind attached to it. When I exhibited I did not sell anything so I have always been stuck with my art and keeping every art work I have done has not been good for my progressiv thinking. They soon become a collection that occupied my mind. I have for a long time been fascinated by mail art and parallell to one of my exhibitions I sent out 150 invitations to small islands in the pacifics and carribians as well as madagaskar and this triggered the outcome; no visitors to my gallery but a lot of people recieving strange invitations to a cold and wintery landscape.

In later days I have discover the joy of being answered by a fellow artist and the throwing the art away has turned into mail art.

Thanks for a wonderful site Ruud and thank You older members for a warm welcoming!

Niklas Heed

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Comment by Valentine Mark Herman on January 2, 2012 at 12:48pm

I din't say your sister was evil 666DID I?? I must have been truly smashed if I did. David said that she was very nice, and remembers her fondly for the dog biscuits and used tea bags that she gave him. Val

Comment by vizma bruns on January 2, 2012 at 8:06am

Great! Next instalment please Val!!  I have to show this to my mum, when she comes over she points at me and chants "Hoarder! Hoarder!" And you thought my sister was evil!!

Comment by Valentine Mark Herman on January 1, 2012 at 12:44pm

Niklas and/or Vizma....start a Collectors Group....please???!!


Comment by Eraser Heed on January 1, 2012 at 12:25pm

Sounds really interesting Val! Everyone has to relate to some kind of collecting, it is not for no reason our ancestors epitet has been labeled "Hunters and COLLECTORS".

Comment by Valentine Mark Herman on January 1, 2012 at 12:22pm

3rd try...if this doesn't work, I'm giving up, hoping that by now woul've got the 'flavour ' of it. Val

 the description of their collections around a list of questions.




What is it a collection of?

What’s in it?

Why is the collection important to me?

Is it a general or a specialised collection?

Where is it?

When did I start it?

Why did I start it?

What was the first item I collected?

Am I still adding items to the collection?

What was the last item I added to the collection?                             

How complete is my collection?

What’s missing from my collection?

How is the collection organised?

Do I catalogue or archive the items in my collection?

How is the collection stored?

How is the collection displayed?

Who do I show my collection to?                Do I have contacts with other collectors?

Where do I acquire items from?                   Do I read specialised magazines, books, websites,

How do I acquire them?                               etc about the things I collect?

How valuable is the collection?

Is its value to me monetary, sentimental, or what?

Is it an investment?


As you will see in the following chapters, some of my Friends followed this template quite closely; others used parts of it where they found it helpful; and yet others – as would be expected from many of my Friends – ignored it completely (God bless ‘em!). Some of them took up my invitation to include a photo of themselves with their collection, some didn’t, and one sent me a photo that I thought was of Marilyn Monroe but which turned out to be of Diana Eden. (The latter has changed a lot since I last saw her.)





    Four Newcky Browns, please                         Collection of my glasses, 1995-2005


The questions – which I thought were very straightforward – gave rise to a whole series of other questions which I debated with my Friends. Six of them were particularly interesting as they shaped the very heart of this book.


First, what is a ‘collection’? According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary it is ‘a group of things collected or accumulated,’ and ‘to collect’ is ‘to bring or gather together, systematically seek and acquire (items of a particular kind) as a hobby’. ‘Ah’, said some of my Friends, ‘What we have wasn’t deliberately (or systematically) collected or accumulated: it just happened.’ So in these chapters we have David Lloyd’s ‘accidental collection’ of diaries, letters and notebooks, and Brian Atkin asks if his 3 motorbikes can be considered as a collection? My answer to Brian and anyone else who asked me to define a collection was very simple: a collection is whatever you want it to be – you decide, it’s yours. It can be big or small, permanent or temporary, real or virtual, physical or mental (Joy Boyce describes a collection of memories; Diana Eden a collection of thoughts), valuable or not – you decide it’s yours, and if you choose to call it a collection, then it is a collection, your collection.


Second, what is the difference, if any, between the ‘hoarding’, ‘gathering’, ‘keeping’ and ‘collecting’ of items?  I don’t really know (or care), and told my Friends that for the purpose of this book it didn’t really matter whether you call yourself a hoarder, gatherer, keeper, collector, or even curator – again, you decide, and then, of course, write me a chapter!


Third, what is the minimum size for a collection? I initially thought that a collection had to have at least one item in it, but after reading Vic Hanby’s ‘Musings’ I revised my thinking and came to the conclusion that perhaps you can hav

Comment by Valentine Mark Herman on January 1, 2012 at 12:19pm

Try again...this is a continuation. The text might be too long. Val


of photos, of romantic post cards,and so on. I maintain that everyone collects, and the other night in the pub Kerry told me that her 3-year old grand-daughter has just started a collection of conkers (horse chestnuts), which goes some way to proving my point. I hope her collection of conkers fares better than mine – about which you can read later.


But as I said, some of the Friends I contacted denied that they were collectors. This is probably the most extreme case of denial that I came across:


               “We are not real collectors. We are only compulsive keepers. So we don’t see

                 how we can contribute to your request for information on our experiences in

                 collecting. We have indeed lots of books – a few thousand (mostly English-

                 written crime or detective stories), lots of Bandes Dessinèes [comics], and

                 mostly everything that has been published on Tintin or Hergé. We also have a

                 lot of a bit of everything, such as Ethnic Art (mainly African), porcelain,

                 several complete sets of dishes, old pocket watches, ethnic artefacts and

                 sculptures and masks. And, like you, we have never thrown things away. You

                 are welcome to visit us this Summer…maybe you will find among our

                 possessions the one little thing you missed and always wanted to have.

                (We have among other items a 1962 2CV camionette and a 1960

                 old BMW motorcycle.)”


Well, dear Marie and dear Roel, you might call this ‘keeping’, but I call it ‘collecting’ – especially as you have several thousand items. And, thank you, I will come and visit your – what is it – hoard, collection, museum even? – in the Summer, but right now I’m not in the market for  a (nother) 2CV or a motorbike.


Almost all of the Friends I contacted and asked if they would share their collections with me did indeed turn out to be collectors and agreed to participate in this project. Some of them were extremely reluctant to admit that they were collectors, and I had to use all the powers of my considerable charm and persuasion to entice them to contribute to this book. Or, to put that another way, I nagged and badgered them so much that they probably decided it was easier to send me something  -- anything -- rather than continue to be exposed to my barrage of emails, sms-esses, and phone-calls. Susannah even accused me of ‘stalking’ her, but hey, Zanny, all I wanted was something about the things that I knew you and Michel collected.


I’m quite good at nagging, and didn’t give up all that easily on those Friends who said we don’t collect anything and/or we have stopped collecting. Alright, said I, then tell me either about a collection from your childhood (or earlier times), and/or what you would collect if you did collect anything. This appeal to their historical and ‘what if’-fantasy collections largely fell on deaf ears. I was particularly unsuccessful in getting contributions from my Austro-Hungarian, Irish and Scottish Friends, who have, alas, chosen to exclude themselves from this book (and who will probably be reported to the EU for so doing).


In February 2009 I wrote to some 50 Friends asking them to share the story of their collections with me. If they were prepared to do so, I suggested to them that they might like to base the description of their collections around a list of questions.




What is it a collection of?

What’s in it?

Why is the collection important to me?

Is it a general or a specialised collection?


Comment by Valentine Mark Herman on January 1, 2012 at 12:17pm

With a bit of luck here is the text to the Introduction to my book WITHOUT the amazing pictures. I'll try and send them next, and you'll have to insert them yourself. Val





                   Val Herman




I collect things – I always have and I always will.


I like collecting things, whether they are stamps, postcards, books, medals or whatever. I value the objects I collect, not just for what they are, but also for what they tell me about myself, the origins of the objects, the circumstances in which I came to acquire them, and the way they fit into my life.


In her brilliant book In Flagrante Collecto: Caught in the Art of Collecting (Abrams, NY: 2006), Marilyn Gelfman Karp explains this urge to collect far better than I ever could:


              “Collecting is an act of very personal commitment. It’s about erecting a

                bond between yourself and an object; it’s all about what you choose to

                be responsible for. Humanity can be divided into two parts: those who

                collect and the others….Collecting is not about what you collect as much

                as it is about who you are. Possession somehow connotes transference of

                the object’s virtues to its owner. Collections are about recollections.

                Collections exclude the world and are symbolic of it.”


This book is about that part of humanity that collects things.


I had a collection of three basic ideas in my head when I began thinking about putting this modest volume together:


  • First, everyone is a collector
  • Second, everything is collectable
  • Third, everything is collected


Everyone is a collector


Is everyone a collector? Well, I most certainly am, and initially I was going to write a book about the stories behind my own multitude of collections and the various items in them. I followed this approach in an earlier auto-biography entitled Journey Around My Study in which I based the story of my life (to 2003) on various objects in my Study. I could have continued in this way, and perhaps produced a book called Journey Around My Collections, but Carol – my ex – described my earlier approach as ‘navel gazing’. Carol would probably agree with Marilyn that, “Writing about why one collects what one collects is a bit like self-psychoanalysis; it’s hard to be objective.” Perhaps this is so, ladies, but why should I be objective?


Anyway, and as Jess Wilkin implies later, we are what we collect.




   A collection of Mediterranean shells                  A small collection of small bears


I thought about a Journey Around My Collections for a while and then decided that instead of writing yet another description of my navel I would invite my Friends (with a capital ‘F’) to tell me about their collections. (I should tell you at this stage that none of them collects navels – well none of them admits to collecting navels!) What you are now reading is the result of their generous responses to my invitation. It is, as I will explain soon, not just about collections, but also about collectors.


But is everyone a collector? I believe this is so, and even though some of the Friends I wrote to said ‘I don’t collect anything for reasons of time, space, money, etc’, or ‘I used to collect butterflies, coins, bottle tops, etc, but I no longer do so’, I bet – and in many cases I know – that they have collections of DVDs, of pullovers, of favourite shoes, of

Comment by Eraser Heed on January 1, 2012 at 12:10pm

So that is what happened to my car number plate Vizma! ;) Happy New Mail-art year! :)

Comment by vizma bruns on January 1, 2012 at 8:03am

Happy New year New Friend! Great, you can send me your collections anytime, and mail art too. I once started collecting car number plates on a trip to Europe, but my backpack got too heavy. I got one in Goteborg too! God Jul!

Val, let me rephrase..."Yes please, Val, send me your book, once you have it on CD, when you know how to do that, when you ask someone. I'd love a copy!"

Comment by Eraser Heed on December 31, 2011 at 5:44pm

I understand about the book, I'll read it later :) Might start a group eventually but the topic might not have with this subject to do. Would be nice to build a virtual Post Office but with real mail, but.. it also might be what we are doing right now.




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