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 Obsessions - Collections and Collectors

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Obsessions - Collections and Collectors   Thu 17 Aug 2017, 23:25

Obsession is not only about image, religion, fads, fancies and the forbidden, collectors seem to be driven to extremes and their collections often weird and not always wonderful. But collected with  the dedicated fervor of 'must have.'

I recall chucking out a cute little box - a small Japanese gift wrapper probably - for which I had no use  and a bit later finding it my 6 year old's room. "I collect boxes," she said, chin raised. This was news to me and I said so.
"And this is the first,...so!" And, as the good book says,  so it came to pass. Now it's little silver ones she goes for. 

I am so glad she never collected teapots but people do and many other strange things. I admit to still owning a huge Indo-Pacific shell collection. (Not taken live - well very very few at the beginning, perhaps.) Any res Hist thoughts on this - your admissions, even? I wonder when it started?
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Obsessions - Collections and Collectors   Fri 18 Aug 2017, 07:11

I collect mugs from places we have visited, so mostly British.

I am sure I have read about the obsessive collecting of some famous people, even just in the last few days, but I can't remember the details at the moment.
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PostSubject: Re: Obsessions - Collections and Collectors   Sun 20 Aug 2017, 14:02

Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, the powerful defender of Martin Luther, has gone done in history as Frederick the Wise. Frederick was a devout, clever and independently minded prince who proved in his dealing with Rome and with the Emperor, young Charles V, that he merited his nickname. It is odd, then, that this man, who was discerning enough to patronise the leading artists, writers and scholars of his day - and Martin Luther! - should have been so credulous as to have spent a fortune on religious knick-knacks and sacred baubles of spurious provenance. Frederick was a compulsive collector of relics. In 1509 he had 5,005 relics and by 1518 the collection had grown to 17,443 items. Where did he put them all and who dusted them?

Items listed included the usual saintly body parts (he had a thumb - I think one of St. Anne's), several bits of St. Augustine, although I don't know which bits or which Augustine, four hairs from the Blessed Virgin's head (colour not specified), some hay from the manger in which our Infant Saviour had slept, and a piece of gold from the gift offered by Melchior at the crib. Most precious was a barb from the crown of thorns and - really impressive this one - a twig from the burning bush as seen by Moses (who must have brought it back down from Mount Horeb/Sinai).

Quite a collection! Whether or not Frederick believed in the genuineness of his relics (and he certainly travelled widely with all the zeal of an avid collector when he heard of a new and exciting item), they were a splendid investment. Men and women came from all over to gawp at his impressive display when it was put on show every November 1st (All Saints' Day). Frederick made a fortune and shared the proceeds with the Church (Roman). The townspeople of Wittenberg benefited from all the tourists, and every pilgrim to Wittenberg on Relic Day received a complimentary indulgence which would knock off centuries off his or her stay in Purgatory! Everyone was happy.

To be fair to Frederick, who appears to have been a really decent chap, he donated his share of the relic loot to his other great love, the University of Wittenberg - quite ironic because he paid Luther's salary there. Lord knows what Luther said about the relics!

I have no idea what happened to Frederick's vast collection after the Reformation. Will try to find out, unless someone else knows.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Obsessions - Collections and Collectors   Mon 28 Aug 2017, 06:02

I have just read an article about Matisse whose exhibition is on at the Royal Academy of Arts (is that in London?). Oddly for some reason I thought he was an impressionist of the 1890s or thereabouts, but he died in the mid-20th century. 

He had collections of textiles, "my own little museum of swatches", "an informal museum of ceramics, glass, metalware, furniture, and African masks." I don't know if this counts as an obsession, but it was a collection.  Which he used in his art apparently.  Yellow Odalisque shows a vase which was in his collection, for example.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Obsessions - Collections and Collectors   Mon 28 Aug 2017, 11:11

Other artists have similar..... the African masks that so inspired Braque and Picasso a case in point. henry Moore's studio had shelves of flints picked up on Chisell beach I think he said - he showed us ( when I did a student year of sculpture ) One was the inspiration for the UNESCO building in France that was being worked on at that time - the first small scale prototype. 

But that is a far cry from collectors of teapots and egg cups. They have inspired  great works but none that I know of. You can usually tell when a collector dies around here because a charity shop window will suddenly sport swathes of pottery pigs, frogs or similar.Flog it often takes to auction things people buy for their show cases. I suppose collection gives an objective. Liz taylor collected diamonds. Mmmm.....along with assorted husbands. Happiness is a big heap of really cool bling - yerh- possibly it is.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Obsessions - Collections and Collectors   Mon 28 Aug 2017, 11:11

Other artists have similar..... the African masks that so inspired Braque and Picasso a case in point. henry Moore's studio had shelves of flints picked up on Chisell beach I think he said - he showed us ( when I did a student year of sculpture ) One was the inspiration for the UNESCO building in France that was being worked on at that time - the first small scale prototype. 

But that is a far cry from collectors of teapots and egg cups. They have inspired  great works but none that I know of. You can usually tell when a collector dies around here because a charity shop window will suddenly sport swathes of pottery pigs, frogs or similar.Flog it often takes to auction things people buy for their show cases. I suppose collection gives an objective. Liz taylor collected diamonds. Mmmm.....along with assorted husbands. Happiness is a big heap of really cool bling - yerh- possibly it is.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Obsessions - Collections and Collectors   Mon 28 Aug 2017, 11:11

Doubled up above post after impatient send clicking.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Obsessions - Collections and Collectors   Sat 09 Sep 2017, 02:18

Our National Radio this afternoon had a story about a 93-year-old woman who has donated her collection of thousands of sand samples from all over the world to the Auckland War Museum.
sand collection
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Obsessions - Collections and Collectors   Sat 09 Sep 2017, 16:25

I imagine the Museum Accessions department gave thanks with gritted teeth for that  donation, Caro. - and relations rather relieved.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Obsessions - Collections and Collectors   Tue 12 Sep 2017, 10:46

Actually sand is interesting. My miniature shell collection -  a 100 would  cover a postage stamp - was collected from about 50 m of beach during spring and autumn. The sand was different during summer monsoon seas and devoid of sand during the winter calms. The deposit I sought had been dragged from a nearby reef. Beach beyond had fewer shells of any kind. 150m further on had no shells or only  tinyfragments in finer grit. In truth, within that 50m I came to know which bit would have gastropods and where the bivalves would fetch up. I reckon I could have found at least 10 different sand samples on that small bay so a huge worldwide collection does not surprise..... but not of great interest to many, I suspect.

Of course coloured sand pictures and layered patterns in shaped glass have long been tourist buys - but perhaps less so now. My micro-miniature shells- using a magnifying glass - still delight me, but others would probably think it a daft interest. I don't think I have ever shown them to anyone, come to that.
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