Discussion What are your collecting goals?

Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
To me, one of the most appealing aspects of collecting is that each participant gets to pick his or her own unique goals based on their interests, knowledge, time and resources. Some collectors have very well-defined goals, even to the point of seeking to acquire one or more specific items. Others may focus their collecting energies on a specific type of artifact. Within the very broad category of CW artifact collecting, that could be hats, or uniforms, or firearms, or presentation swords, or identified items generally, or photographs, or ephemera, or Confederate money, or Civil War tokens, or surgical equipment, or dug relics, etc. At one time, I was focusing on US coinage from the 1861-65 period. Others may have no more specific goal than generic "personal satisfaction." As my CWT handle implies, I collect pocket watches with CW provenances. Within that general pursuit, I have specific aspirations that I may share after I hear from some others here.

I believe that an organized, curated collection, which is distinct from a mere accumulation, or a horde, is greater than the sum of its parts. Collections can tell a coherent story and provide insights into the people who created or once owned the artifacts. Anyone with a big enough checkbook can usually put together a pretty impressive bunch of stuff. For me, the challenge has always been to know more about the artifacts one has collected when one passes them along than one knew when one first acquired them, and to pass that knowledge along to the broader community with the artifacts. Collecting shouldn't be a zero sum game. Some of my horological publications likely will continue to be read long after I am gone, and knowing that gives me satisfaction.

The upside of casting a wide net is that one may maximize one's collecting opportunities. If you're in a hurry to assemble a large collection rapidly, and you have a large collecting budget, that approach has definite advantages. The upside of specializing is that you have much more of an opportunity to become a genuine expert in what you collect. Knowing more about the items you collect than most of the people selling them gives you a tremendous advantage, and helps you to avoid costly mistakes. (Everyone, certainly including myself, will occasionally continue to make mistakes, but your batting average will go way up if you specialize.)

But 'nuf said by me here. I'd like to hear from others.
 
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redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
My collection is more a lack of focus, first it was pistols; then the pistols were sold to collect long guns, then it was swords, leather goods and cannonballs (which are probably my favorite since they are hard to break, hard to steal and except for an occasional dusting easy on upkeep). Who knows where it will go next, but it was and still is quite the ride. If it appeals to you collect it.
 
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
My collection is more a lack of focus, first it was pistols; then the pistols were sold to collect long guns, then it was swords, leather goods and cannonballs (which are probably my favorite since they are hard to break, hard to steal and except for an occasional dusting easy on upkeep). Who knows where it will go next, but it was and still is quite the ride. If it appeals to you collect it.
For many collectors the hunt and occasionally, the chase, are more satisfying than actually owning the artifact. This contributes to a high turnover rate of the items within a collection. Perhaps you are in that category?
 
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Larryh86GT

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Location
Near sunny Buffalo New York
My collection is more a lack of focus, first it was pistols; then the pistols were sold to collect long guns, then it was swords, leather goods and cannonballs (which are probably my favorite since they are hard to break, hard to steal and except for an occasional dusting easy on upkeep). Who knows where it will go next, but it was and still is quite the ride. If it appeals to you collect it.

I am like you as my goals keeps expanding. But I too enjoy the hunt and chase.
 

Ralph Heinz

Corporal
Joined
Feb 14, 2016
Location
Pacific Northwest
One of the best things a collector can do is to make friends with other collectors who will share their knowledge and collections with you. While I had a group of friends with the same collection interests while I lived in Arizona, when I moved to Montana in 1976, I quickly made friends with a wealthy dealer and a local collector whose collection has become one of the largest in the country. They shared their knowledge with me and I traveled to distant gun shows for years with each of them. I still learn from them.
 
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
One of the best things a collector can do is to make friends with other collectors who will share their knowledge and collections with you. While I had a group of friends with the same collection interests while I lived in Arizona, when I moved to Montana in 1976, I quickly made friends with a wealthy dealer and a local collector whose collection has become one of the largest in the country. They shared their knowledge with me and I traveled to distant gun shows for years with each of them. I still learn from them.
Yes, Sir! Successful collecting is all about networking. There is much essential information you can't really get any other way.
 

redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
Yes, Sir! Successful collecting is all about networking. There is much essential information you can't really get any other way.
The networking becomes even more important when a next of kin needs to tidy up their loved one's affairs and someone is needed to deal with them that is trustworthy and won't take unfair advantage of them. This is something that no collector may want to think about, but it is still a consideration never the less.
 
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redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
For many collectors the hunt and occasionally, the chase, are more satisfying than actually owning the artifact. This contributes to a high turnover of the items within a collection. Perhaps you are in that category?
I certainly am and to me, the hunt is sometimes even more fun and satisfying than the having.
 
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
The networking becomes even more important when a next of kin needs to tidy up their loved one's affairs and someone is needed to deal with them that is trustworthy and won't take unfair advantage of them. This is something that no collector may want to think about, but it is still a consideration never the less.
There is a joke in the watch collecting community, which I am sure you will understand, that when a serious collector dies at home, the undertaker is the second party to arrive.
 

redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
There is a joke in the watch collecting community, which I am sure you will understand, that when a serious collector dies at home, the undertaker is the second party to arrive.
How true...just join the line at the grieving widow's door with your fellow collectors that are just wanting to help out.
 
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1867crete

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 25, 2017
Agree on networking and sharing knowledge. Being in central Nebraska, kinda off the beaten path of CW! But thanks to this site and its many members with vast wealth of knowledge I can still talk shop and share things now and again! My only true goal is to have fun and enjoy the items I collect. My problem is I am so fascinated by the time period even mundane run of the mill items intrigue me! For example start looking at bone and wood handle utensils! The designs are interesting and rarely do you find a matching pair! My wife rolls her eyes when she sees me handle a fork at a antique store! Lol
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
I want one of each model small arm used by the 4th MN VI.

M1816 (have), M1816 Remington Maynard (need), M1817 (need) M1855 Rifle (have rifle musket), M1861 (need) Special Model 1861 (have), M1864 (have), "Bright Belgian" (need) & I wouldn't mind a Spencer, Lorenz & P53 (I'm borrowing one of my Father's) plus I have a Specisl model M1842 & a French M1842 Dragoon.

I'd also like a Ballard and a few others but... I try to stay focused, really I do.

I also collect period tools. I'm actually pretty much complete on my period tool chest. Then I found levels, Archimedes drills and adzes. The wife indulges my addiction. Well, I haven't woke up dead yet anyway.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
My collecting is a bit different. One way to study Confederate railroads is to read the annual reports that each publicly traded road had to produce every year. With about 110 public roads, that is 550 reports. Few can be found to be owned by the private collector -- almost all are in the hands of libraries. Also, many Confederate railroads were over-run by the Union during the war and ceased to publish reports. So I am trying to get copies (web, photo, newspaper report, etc) of the estimated 450 that were produced and published.
 
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
I want one of each model small arm used by the 4th MN VI.

M1816 (have), M1816 Remington Maynard (need), M1817 (need) M1855 Rifle (have rifle musket), M1861 (need) Special Model 1861 (have), M1864 (have), "Bright Belgian" (need) & I wouldn't mind a Spencer, Lorenz & P53 (I'm borrowing one of my Father's) plus I have a Specisl model M1842 & a French M1842 Dragoon.

I'd also like a Ballard and a few others but... I try to stay focused, really I do.

I also collect period tools. I'm actually pretty much complete on my period tool chest. Then I found levels, Archimedes drills and adzes. The wife indulges my addiction. Well, I haven't woke up dead yet anyway.

Yep, that's a well-focused collection. I guess the most focused collections are the ones kids first start out with: Coin books with a slot for each year and mint mark of a particular series of penny, nickel or dime, or baseball cards, which are divided by year and "series," etc.

My first collecting goal is to get at least one pocket watch identified to a CW combatant from each of the loyal CW states. I currently have examples from MA, PA, OH, IN, IL, MI, and KY, but am missing the entire rest of New England, NY, NJ, DE, MD, MO, KS, IA, MN, WI, CA and OR. I'd also like to get an example or two from a Southern loyalist, a freedman, and a CMoH recipient. Then there are the famous and/or colorful Union units: the Iron Brigade, Meagher's Irish Brigade and the 69th NY, Berdan's sharpshooters, the 20th ME, the 1st MN, the 39th NY (Garibaldi Guards), the Wolverines (have), etc.
 

vmicraig

Sergeant
Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Location
Mobile, AL
I started out wanting only a musket for my fireplace and perhaps a couple swords. Years later after my passion for the time period matured, I have accumulated far more than I originally considered, much of it randomly ( some of which I regret, but that was before I got a little ACW collection schooling).

Eventually, I realized my random purchases had no rhyme or reason and I realized I needed to focus on what I was collecting and why..... so I settled on long arms. Specifically, I set a goal to obtain a representative sample of the primary longarms and carbines of the ACW that as a group could show the development of the long arm from flint to percussion, including the following primaries found in use during various periods of the ACW - M1816, M1842, M1855, M1861, M1863, an Enfield, and a Lorenz. Sure, there are many more, from Zouves to Mississippi’s, but those above made up the bulk of what was used in the field, whether by early militias or later, organized units. The carbines were more of a side collection that became their own sub grouping.

Recently I finished a small sub-grouping that includes all the longarms issued to VMI cadets from the time of VMI’s founding in 1839 to the end of the ACW. That group contained a couple harder to find longarms, such as the M1836 Hall carbine and the M1851 Springfield Cadet. Still, the subgroups fit together well with my original collection goal of showing the development of the longarm, and as a group, it’s a collection that I’m very proud to have on display.
 
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
I started out wanting only a musket for my fireplace and perhaps a couple swords. Years later after my passion for the time period matured, I have accumulated far more than I originally considered, much of it randomly ( some of which I regret, but that was before I got a little ACW collection schooling).

Eventually, I realized my random purchases had no rhyme or reason and I realized I needed to focus on what I was collecting and why..... so I settled on long arms. Specifically, I set a goal to obtain a representative sample of the primary longarms and carbines of the ACW that as a group could show the development of the long arm from flint to percussion, including the following primaries found in use during various periods of the ACW - M1816, M1842, M1855, M1861, M1863, an Enfield, and a Lorenz. Sure, there are many more, from Zouves to Mississippi’s, but those above made up the bulk of what was used in the field, whether by early militias or later, organized units. The carbines were more of a side collection that became their own sub grouping.

Recently I finished a small sub-grouping that includes all the longarms issued to VMI cadets from the time of VMI’s founding in 1839 to the end of the ACW. That group contained a couple harder to find longarms, such as the M1836 Hall carbine and the M1851 Springfield Cadet. Still, the subgroups fit together well with my original collection goal of showing the development of the longarm, and as a group, it’s a collection that I’m very proud to have on display.
That's a great theme, Craig. I'm sure you have a very interesting collection.
 
Joined
Mar 19, 2018
My collecting is a bit different. One way to study Confederate railroads is to read the annual reports that each publicly traded road had to produce every year. With about 110 public roads, that is 550 reports. Few can be found to be owned by the private collector -- almost all are in the hands of libraries. Also, many Confederate railroa
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102_1367.JPG per report, etc) of the estimated 450 that were produced and published.
Question , The " Confederate States Mail Line " Was this part of the RR system in the south ? I bought this document off of Ebay in England of all places along with a T. Ashby Cav. document due to the price was right. This is not area that I collect so I am ignorant on this subject. The Mail Line Document list passengers ,seats ,where too, where from and dollars. Among the passengers listed a Col. Pyles and Col. Boyd Feb 6 1865. From Thomasville to Monticello . Thank you for any info. that you can share, Greg
 

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Joined
Mar 19, 2018
What a great question ! Its interesting reading everybody's answers. For me it started with sword that my wife bought me for Christmas at a gun show and that started this CW collecting disease . I mainly focus on Wisconsin related CW items GAR and other items from different wars that maybe historical valuable or interesting . I love the hunt and the research on the items that have names attached to them. Happy hunting to all !
 
Joined
May 1, 2015
Location
Upstate N.Y.
I'm guessing the term "Goal" to be extremely flexible. Originals, Pie in the sky, Union or Confederate, US or foreign, obtainable, I.D.ed, affordable and or on a mission. I tried to focus on firearms, but alas other items were to seductive to pass on.
Pretty much staying with only original revolvers and carbines , but a few original rifles joined the ranks. I'm kind of hooked on carbines. Fifteen different original carbines at last count
 
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