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.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Slowing Down to Make Time

iPhones. Blackberries. Wireless e-mail. iPods. Blogs. We are inundated with devices and technical demands that make us accessible to our superiors, colleagues, clients, and customers virtually 25 hours a day. We spend hours setting up our gadgets, after which we become addicted to their beckoning lure. A recent study conducted by Sheraton Hotels found that 35% of businessmen polled found greater joy in their Blackberry than in their wives. We have obviously lost our way, and have frankly fallen into perpetual preoccupation with occupation.

Leisure time is critical for one's mental health, and working a hobby or building a collection is just the thing to place the fast lane into perspective and realize you can get where your going more safely in one of those slower lanes. We need to lose our fear of a few less dollars (or a few more hollers) and leave our devices in the car. And with that freedom, walk a little slower, make a little more eye contact with the family, and scratch out some time to grow into a quiet hobby.

We could work to keep our imaginations vivid by reading by candlelight; studying a collectible and fantasizing where it came from and what was happening around it in its own era; or spending time creating something from our own hands to later display and admire. It is from these exercises that brilliance blossoms — the new author, or authority, or artist. Or simply just a refreshed mind that becomes its own master.

Don't you think it's about time to slow down and dream a little? Life will be here when you get back.

And, regrettably, so will your vibrating Blackberry.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Graying Hobbies: Has Collecting Lost its Youth?

I remember the days when you could open a phone book (yup...that long ago) and find several coin and stamp shops scattered across the yellow pages, and antique shops were big business. I would save Cracker Jack toys, McDonald's Happy Meal trinkets, and 12c comic books, not for investment, but just because I wanted to collect a set of something....anything that was small and cool.

Today, the average age of a stamp collector (the serious ones) is over 60, and the bourse floors at big coin shows are filled with middle-aged men. And those old comics and toys are being sold at auction or on eBay to successful 30-somethings with a surplus of discretionary income.

What has happened to the young collector? They may have a few Statehood quarters and maybe a $2 bill from Uncle Matt, but they're mostly out of the collecting loop.

Well, here's what I think.

Fathers have become lost on the pursuit of money for that HD TV or new Beemer to spend time together with their boys armed with a magnifying glass and some intriguing miniature piece of history -- a coin or a stamp or something that can peak interest in a youthful mind. And children are lost in the latest computer based game, AIM chat or a new mp3 to stop for a moment and, well, think. Think about what's come before them; about artistry, history, and the use of their magnificent imaginations. We have grown too dependent on the imagination of others, neatly boxed in a video game, a DVD, or a coffee table book.

Many retiring collectors are painfully discovering that the love and fascination they held for the collections they slowly acquired are not shared by the children they plan to leave them to. Those children never learned to appreciate the art and history behind those carefully preserved items. The kids only see these dusty old things as a means to buy something they an HD TV or that new Beemer, once they're sold and the memories have gone.

It may be too late to inspire our older children - their minds are busy, and mostly closed. It's their children, with minds open and thirsty that can gain so much from the graying collector.



Sunday, May 18, 2008

Welcome to the Studium Magazine Blog

Greetings, all, and welcome.

My name's Dennis Nowicki and I'm the editor of this online hobby based magazine, or e-zine, rather. Studium is Latin for enthusiasm/study, which I felt was appropriate as the masthead for this endeavor.

This began in 1996 as a means of providing the then predominantly text based web with graphics and information related to the hobbies I dove into over the years. Each issue would cover three hobby topics along with an editorial. I was an active plastic model builder as well as a collector of coins and stamps...a somewhat nerdy explorer looking for like kind. I would collect something new, study it, then write an article about the field, both to inform and inspire. It's been a labor of love over the last dozen years, but it felt a bit limited. Thus, I decided, perhaps a bit foolishly with my limited time to expand the magazine to cover a particular topic thoroughly, including multimedia, games, references, links, podcasts, and a blog. The first new issue is done, dedicated to the Sherlock Holmes enthusiast. Additional issues are ahead, covering miniatures, Greek coins, meteorites and fossils, U.S. and world coins. It's a one-man show, so please be patient.

At any rate, I'm open for constructive remarks. Kindly avoid flaming as well as profanity. It's unnecessary and only creates animosity.