I would guess, though I'm by no means certain, there exists within psychology some study of the behavior of "collecting." I think hoarding is understood as some kind of dysfunctional behavior, collecting is perhaps related. Why do people "collect?"

I've been a collector. The objects of my passion seem to be somewhat transient though. For most of my life, I lacked the financial wherewithal to indulge my fascinations, though there were periods in my thirties when I'd collect Apple II computers and software. Back then, people would often give away an Apple II or an Apple II compatible, like a Franklin Ace. I think at one point when I was still married, I had nine Apple II computers in my garage.

Inevitably, the "opportunity cost" of just the space they occupied compelled their disposal, either to other collectors or, worse, to a landfill. I don't think I was aware of electronics recyclers back then.

In recent years, it has again been Apple IIs, peripherals and software; Olympus digital cameras; HP and some other calculators; and now, radios. With the present exception of the calculators and radios, whatever the motivation to "collect" may be has waned over time, and the collections were sold or given away.

I've tried to reflect on where this desire comes from. As it hasn't been in any way problematic, apart from the constant flow of cardboard to the recycling bin, it hasn't been something I've undertaken with the aid of a therapist, so my introspection may be lacking in important ways. Nevertheless, I've tried.

I think much of it stems from our consumer culture, my early childhood where television and the Sears Wish Book, and ads in Boys' Life magazine exposed me to a world of cool stuff that other boys had. Or, suggested they had. To my parents' credit, I suppose, as the oldest child, many of my desires were fulfilled. Though not all, and often not with the actual object of my affection, but an "affordable" substitute.

There's a certain thrill with getting something you want, a dopamine rush. It's a feeling though; and, like all feelings, it passes. I knew this as a child too. Where the thing you hounded your parents for finally arrives, there are early days of play and discovery and then it is retired to the closet, or the basement, as something else had become the object of my desire and the bane of my parents' peace.

As an adult, with the internet, I'm presented with the Sears Wish Book, Boys' Life and TV ads multiplied by orders of magnitude. There are videos of people showing off their latest acquisition. There are forums (fora?) where the merits and attractions of various items are extolled or fondly remembered.

It's amazing how many people "regret" selling a camera, radio or calculator. I'm pretty sure it's not genuine regret; it's just seeing other people praise the thing you once had and no longer do, so whatever the dopamine hit is of having your discerning taste validated is denied you in that moment, and you experience that as "regret." I doubt anyone wakes up in the morning missing a camera or calculator or radio.

I've got a box of cameras, lenses and accessories next to my desk I need to offer to KEH.COM soon. The last time, I netted over $1,000 and an empty shelf in my office. This won't be quite that much, though last night I decided I could part with my macro flash, which I've never used, and that will probably bring a nice offer.

I've got a box of HP calculators that are superfluous to my collection that I will try to sell, at a fraction of what I paid for them.

Easy come, easy go I guess.

Then there's the "thrill of the hunt." Watching eBay or Goodwill auctions for a deal seemingly too good to be true. They do exist. I bought a nearly complete Sony ICF-SW1 radio, lacking only the manual and the wrist strap with the attached plastic tab inserted as a stand in the base of the radio, in working order and near-perfect cosmetic condition for a third less than other such listings. The same price for non-working units with far worse appearance. I think it was just a quirk in the way the seller listed the auction that threw more experienced buyers off the scent, because they move quickly and I mulled this one over for days.

I have a Panasonic RF-2600 inbound, which I'd previously decided I wouldn't acquire. It's a nice radio, but it's fairly large and it doesn't really offer anything my RF-2200 doesn't offer. It does have a larger speaker, as a bigger radio; a digital frequency display; and a BFO adjustment that can make listening to single sideband a little easier.

I "watch" items to see what they ultimately sell for. This sometimes yields an offer from the seller, which I usually decline. On Saturday, I got an offer for this 2600. It was listed for $219, which was a fairly attractive price, but I'd already decided I didn't want the radio. There was no shot of the battery compartment, which isn't a good sign, so I just wanted to see what it ultimately went for.

The email said the offer was for "5% off, was $147.26 now $139.89." That didn't sound right because I knew that radio was listed for over $200. And who posts a price of "$147.26"?

So I went back to the listing, and it was still available for sale, at $219! So, $80 off? I didn't know if the offer was an error, or if I was being manipulated somehow. Seller seems fairly new, only 380 completed sales. Even as a "parts" radio, $140 wasn't awful, so I bit. It hasn't shipped yet, so we'll see what happens. Free shipping and accepts returns, shouldn't be too risky.

Anyway, there's an element of treasure-hunting to collecting as well.

But there's one common thread in all this, and that is "desire." Now, maybe that's related to the dopamine reward of having a desire fulfilled, but I've desired all these computers, cameras, calculators or radios because I like them in some way. They were cool or clever or just damn good at what they did. They possessed ostensibly objective qualities, and many subjective ones, that made them desirable. They were "good" devices, gadgets.

Now, who collects Nazi memorabilia?

And what's going on inside them?

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 07:40 Monday, 10 April 2023