Sunday, November 4, 2018

Tales of the Wandering Collector, Part Two

Tales of the Wandering Collector, Part Two
or
How To Fill Up Your Man Cave

In the first part of this essay, I mentioned there are as many reasons to begin collecting as there are people. I’m going to expand on that a bit more. I am primarily a book collector who follows one simple rule – I collect what I like. Since I like a great many things, I have a diverse and what I believe is a fascinating collection of rare books, magazines and comic books. The largest single-author collections I have are the works of Ray Bradbury, Mickey Spillane, L. Ron Hubbard, David Gemmell, Roger Zelazny and Zane Grey alongside such contemporary writers as Guy N. Smith, Peter Brandvold, James Lee Burke, Robert Crais, Douglas Preston, and Lincoln Child.
And lots more. Ian Fleming, Robert E. Howard, Ernest Hemingway, and Edgar Rice Burroughs are all authors whose work I value. My comic book and paperback collections are out of control. That’s all simply the tip of the iceberg. This blog is an indication of the sheer volume I own. I have signed editions, and in some cases personal letters or documents, many of which are locked in my safe with a loaded gun. Never mind the details. Here is a rundown on some of the reasons why people collect, and why I feel collections are vital to a prosperous culture.
·        Knowledge: collecting engages your mind and helps you develop and maintain organizational skills, historical knowledge, cognizant thinking and gets you active. The wealth of knowledge you accumulate becomes part of your mind’s vast repository of ideas, which nurtures creativity. Collecting can also help with stress reduction and foster a sense of accomplishment.
·       History and Nostalgia: This is a key one because collecting is a personal statement where you are saying “This is important and I want it always near me.” To say that something is so important that you are willing to spend time and money keeping it near you is profound. History matters, and understanding history is vital in helping to build a better future.
·     Social Connections: The sharing of knowledge and exchanging ideas is pleasurable, and by interacting with like-minded collectors you are constantly evaluating, revising and planning which keeps your mind using all of its gears at once. The best collectors are never lazy, they get up and move and make contact with people.
·        Investment Value: Your collection will have a monetary value that can benefit you financially. Being aware of and nurturing the value of your collection is mandatory.  As of this writing, there is a growing interest in paperback collecting for men’s adventure titles from the 60s and 70s, and I’ve witnessed extraordinary price increases on certain titles. Being aware of such trends shouldn’t be underestimated. Know your market.
I was introduced to certain literary classics by publishers like Airmont and Whitman. Naturally, I have a nice collection of Airmont and Whitman books. Given that, let’s pause a moment and consider nostalgia. Whitman was successful by co-joining with television trends in the 50s and 60s and these books are collectable to long-time readers who recall them with fondness. Nostalgia, of course, is a non-critical function of memory wherein we recall past times when we were happy. The key here is happiness. To be happy is the primary goal of all of humanity. However, because recalling a book fondly from your past is linked more to an emotional response than critical thinking, there are those who denounce nostalgia as a useless subjective exercise.
Some Whitman favorites

I will argue that is true only for a small percentage of readers, and in fact, I believe that thanks to nostalgia, many readers have learned to nurture their critical thinking ability, and that people can and will readily explain why certain books they recall fondly are important, not only because they are reminded of happier times, but because they have made the effort to study those books and can easily outline a book’s literary merits. In short, nostalgia encourages literacy.
Building a collection goes hand in hand with building a Man Cave or Girl Cave as the case may be. A Man Cave is your Fortress of Solitude like the one Doc Savage and Superman have. It can be anywhere, and it can have anything in it that you like. The choices are all yours. My Man Cave is an interesting place, at least to me. I have stacks of magazines like Easy Rider and Famous Monsters of Filmland, Western paperbacks, Mac Bolan paperbacks, The Bantam 1960s and 70s Doc Savage paperbacks, the Western adult series The Gunsmith and Longarm, Nick Carter paperbacks, rare movie posters and lobby cards, music CDs, and guns and ammunition. I am within reach of coffee and the occasional pint of something stronger. My only complaint is that my cave is too small.
Finally, there comes a sense of satisfaction in acquiring a title that had long been desired. I have numerous such books, some are high value books signed by literary giants, and some are simply personal favorites. I have about a dozen signed books that will one day fetch my heirs a pretty penny at auction. Other books have but nominal value but are important as objects of nostalgia.
Collecting signed editions is always rewarding
The quest is everything. I long for a dimly lit, dusty antique shop or second-hand bookstore. There is no better feeling than to find a treasure, and to relax later in some cushiony arm chair with a glass of Irish coffee at hand, and to finally start reading...and then turn the page.

Copyright ©2018 by Thomas McNulty
Cover scans from the author’s collection - 
Sorry books shown here are NOT for sale
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