The History of Collecting

Collectors, by the usual standards, are somewhat "strange" people. Nevertheless, almost everyone of us is collecting something, occasionally, perhaps without even noticing it. Adding, for example, another book to the home library or buying another jewelry, we do not think that we are collecting. One thing is true for sure: collections, whatever they may be, are very important to the history. It is the oldest way to tell about the past, customs, and even fashion. And at the heart of many famous museums you will find the hard work of private collectors.


Scientists believe that collecting is one of the main reflections of the mankind and an important characteristic of human society. This is a very popular and interesting way to organize the world. Collecting was born in the ancient East, ancient Greece and Rome. And for the first time this term "collection" was used by Cesar in one of his speeches: he called "collection" the gathering of different objects together.

Of course, the very first collectors were the ancient people who were passionately collecting firewood. They were also making some decorations for themselves, collecting stones, shells and various trophies from hunting. But they were doing it, mostly unconsciously. Of course: it is almost impossible to imagine a Neanderthal man, showing his people the mountains of a firewood with only one purpose - to show that he is a great collector. The ancient people did not have goals to replenish the collection, as well as to show it to anyone. But life, as they say, is not standing still. And with the growth of the human brain began to grow in depth and breadth the scope of interests of various collectors. According to historians, the first true collectors were the rulers of Pergamum kingdom that existed in the third century BC in the north-western part of Asia.

In the ancient times, collectors were often not engaged themselves in gathering, it was the job of their slaves. They were entrusted to study and classify things. They had to know and remember who made the collection of their master and where it was brought from. In that distant time not only jewelries were a subject of collecting. Very popular were the so-called gems and cameos - stones with cut-out images, adorned with the precious little stones. Of course, only the most wealthy people could afford such a collection.


sea shells collecting


Less noble people were engaged primarily in collecting insects, shells or plants. Modern history has full knowledge of the great Greek philosopher Aristotle herbarium. This is the first collection, presented in a scientific work. Aristotle was an avid collector, who collected and described a large number of plants from many countries. Exhibits for the collection he received from the Botanical Gardens in Athens, or from the scientists who accompanied Alexander Macedonian in his eastern campaigns. And, although he also had slaves, he was involved in the systematization and studying of the plants himself.

The most ancient collection was discovered by the archaeologists in Altai. It is a collection of small stones of different colors in the forms resembling animals. Items are sorted by size, color and similarity to animals. Age of this collection is about 4500 years.

The hobby itself began to develop in the Middle Ages. First of all, as the book and manuscript collections in the churches and monasteries, memorial monuments, weapons arsenals. Through the collecting activities begins the formation of the royal treasuries. Later, closer to the 17th century the popularity of collecting plants acquired in the greenhouses and gardens. Interest in the animal world was manifested in the creation of collections of animals and birds.

The "flowering" of collecting starts in the 18th century, in most of the countries it became not just fun, but the serious passion of many nobles, coupled with the scientific interests of the collectors. In the early 19th century, beside for the nobility in the process of collecting were already involved representatives of the merchants, clergy and commoners - collecting becomes a noticeable fact in the cultural life of the many countries, many collections are forming the basis for the creation of museums.

The results of collecting were also used for the researches and other scientific purposes. This was mainly due to the museums that were actively involved in the process of replenishment of their funds, here was also developed the scientific systematization of the objects of collecting. By the early 20th century collecting was distinguished to the private collecting of democratic and elitist directions. The democratic one includes, for example, the philately - stamps collection. Among the elite, one of the most popular is a book collecting, although it is popular to this day.

In our time collecting has an impressive, maybe even gigantic proportions. People collect everything: cards, envelopes, stamps, coins... More and more collectors are collecting bottles. In general, people gather anything, that one can imagine: from the travel tickets and buttons to homes and even friends. The most amazing thing is that each of these "passions" has it's own particular name. And the list of those names could be endless.




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