Starting A Focused Collection (It’s Easier Than You Realize!)

Starting a Collection Is So Easy You May Not Realize You’ve Begun!

Folks have been amassing items purely for pleasure since 4,000 B.C. starting with collections of non-functional stone tools. Over the centuries, collecting became the hobby almost exclusively of the rich, who collected books, art, oddities, botanicals, taxidermy, the unique and exotic.  By the early 1900’s people of all ages (and economic backgrounds) could enjoy collecting; the wealthy still collected books, art, historic furniture, weapons, and the exotic, women collected dolls, jewelry, ephemera, needlework, household decor, and textiles, children-discarded cigar bands, toys, and advertising give-aways. More recently, collecting has gone far beyond being merely a wealthy person’s status symbol, or past time to keep one occupied whilst indoors or infirm.

Chained library at Chetham Library in Manchester, England. The oldest public library in the English-speaking world.


Avid, seasoned collectors may agree with author Steven Gebler, (Hobbies) who stated, “The desire to be the possessor of a unique item is, in the opinion of many collectors, the underlying motivation for the hobby since it makes one the object of envy, and to be envied is a sign of success.”  But times are a-changin’ and, today, many collections are begun without any sort of conscious decision, no “Hey, I think I’ll become a collector, starting with this right here!” $64 billion worth of home decor items are expected to be purchased by 2020, much of it by “collectors” who have only just come to the realization that not only are they repeatedly drawn to the same kind of thing, but they seem to have acquired quite a few.


Et Voilà! Another Accidental Collector is born!

Whether you’ve become an “accidental collector,” have a life goal to become a collector, or are a full-fledged magpie with one serious (or many) collection(s), taking a next, deeper step can be hugely beneficial. That step is to focus your collection. In other words, as you go forward, narrow the selection, within the genre of what you collect, into a specialized, focused part of that genre. In the top left photo, the owner doesn’t just collect “art,” but paintings, and not just animal painting, but paintings of dogs. As a result, this collection has wonderful visual cohesiveness, and is far more unique. If you collect, say, mirrors, consider limiting your collection to Mid Century Modern versions, convex mirrors, Louis Philippe style, or ones with the same color frames.

Focus Your Collections!

By color, texture, shape, subject matter, designer or era, there are many ways to narrow your choices. You’ll find this adds interest, fun, and challenge to the hunt for additions to your collections. Moreover, the visual punch of a well curated, focused collection is amazing. Displayed, your newly focused collection will reveal something wonderful- the variety and nuances within this more specialized grouping, and the synergy that exists between the individual pieces, when gathered together. You’ll  be thrilled to find that your specialized collection is a marvelous example of Aristotle’s “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.”


Need something wonderful for your collection?

Antique 17th century Nürnberg Zinn Pewter Relief Plate Kaisertel
Antique miniature cannon, 18th century style, dates from the 19th century
19th Century French painting
La Negresse Plaster Bust Sculpture After Jean Baptiste Carpeaux
Antique French Mirror, second half of the 19th century.
Vintage French Mid-Century Modern Brass Starburt Mirror by Chaty Villauris
Vintage Musical Rotating Globe/Cigarette Holder Mid Century Modern
Vintage World Globe With Seasons, Zodiak, and Months


Click on the item that is calling your name to see it up close! Or click here to see many other wonderful additions to your collections!

Interested in learning more about collecting? Check out our Developing a Good Eye series.

Credits:   1. Diocese of Wenchoster library, Photo: Pharisaios and Pharisaios Publications 2. Photo: Blayne Beecham 3. Photo: Jeff Hirsch  4. Photo: Hannah Puechmarin for Apartment Therapy 5. Design: Eileen Kathryn Boyd, via Traditional Home 6. Brook Astor’s Dog Painting Collection, undated file photo provided by Sotheby’s 7. Photo: Philippe Kress, for House and Home


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