What's the Difference Between Collecting and Hoarding?
At the beginning of the month, I revealed the difference between hoarding and simply being messy. Another common question I get on that topic deals with the difference between hoarding and collecting. What differentiates collectors, collections, and the process of collecting versus hoarders, hoards, and hoarding?
What's the difference between collecting and hoarding? You can collect Steuben or Murano glass, but not old wine corks or newspapers from decades ago...right?
The short answer: Hoarding and collecting are not the same.
Typically, collectors are proud of their collections and enjoy showing them off. They can be nicely displayed, are frequently referenced, and bring a sense of joy to their owners. Usually, collectors have a specific place to keep their collections, they are well maintained, and the items have some significant value (monetary or other).
Collectors enjoy conversations about their possessions and may even attend conferences with others who share their interest. As a printer and collector of letterpress type blocks, my father attends numerous printing conferences a year. He also enjoys his 1934 Ford and attends old car shows frequently, too.
Hoarders, however, may be embarrassed by their possessions. They purchase items with the intention of finding some use for them, but end up not doing so. Hoarders’ possessions are often scattered randomly, often without any functional organization. A hoarder may not want people to come to their homes - nor would they want to "show off" any collection, the opposite of a collector.