Thursday, January 12, 2012

Passing the Baton - When Our Children Don't Collect

It can take a lifetime of patient gathering, carefully scrimping here and there to add to an important collection, at least to us. Admired and caressed, with perhaps years of study behind us about our hobby, the grouping of items stands as a testament to our serious folly. Yet when age is advancing and there are far fewer years ahead than behind us, we want to pass our collection to our children or grandchildren, in the hopes they, too will find the hours of pleasure and fulfillment we received from amassing this 'set', if you will.

A related sidetrack is in order. In late 1979, I remember clearly while habitually loitering at the local coin shop the increased flow of people coming through, bringing ragged suitcases and overfilled paper shopping bags of antique silver tea sets, candelabras, and utensils, likely accumulated by wealthier ancestors that were passed to their young families in wills and as gifts. There was no remorse or doubt in their eyes about their afternoon excursion to this coin shop. The price of silver was high, and the chance for a fruitful exchange was now at hand. Beautiful, elegant sets that were the pride of our grandparents were now a quick transaction of cash, followed by their delivery to a smelter, to be melted and further refined into shiny blocks for investors and speculators. These once artistic creations were no longer valued. The cash was king.

As so it all to often goes with a valuable collection passed to our children. They made no investment of money, time and energy in its creation. It is most likely a reminder of their loved ones, and sadly, nothing more. When the opportunity arrives like those days in 1979, there may be little hesitation in the decision to cash in and enjoy the spoils.

What should we do, then with our collections and those who we will eventually leave behind? A family member is less likely to sell a single prized item of their father's or grandfather's than a large grouping of uninspiring items. Setting aside a few memorable or valuable pieces to be passed to our loved ones and selling the remainder will keep our memory alive much longer, particularly if there is a story attached to each. The highlights of our collection then become our legacy, rather than a tempting burden to virtually discard.

1 comment:

Marcin M said...

I destroyed all my fathers WWII 1/72 aircraft models as a kid. I needed to find my own interests, knowledge (and budget). Now I'm also a collector, like my father. But our interests don' collide ;).