Obsessive, Compulsive, and In Order

I have always been a collector of ‘things’. Throughout my life there have been frantic phases of collecting where a complete set of something or other must be completed at all costs. It started in the sixties with my obsession with ancient and modern British coins after I came across an archaeological dig just outside Corby. I was only a child as I watched with fascination as a man was gently dusting off various artefacts or broken pieces of, what I presumed to be, ancient pieces of broken pot. As far as I recall it was the site of a Roman Villa and I sat with my legs dangling over a hole that was perhaps three or four feet deep. I noticed a glass jar beside the hole which contained a number of small dirty metallic discs. The man told me that they were ancient coins, and as he found one he would drop it into the jar for later inspection. Perhaps he was getting fed up with all my questions and chatter or perhaps he just needed to get on with the job, but whatever the reason, he gave me one of the coins which I immediately consigned to the depths of my trouser pocket. It was at that moment that I unwittingly became a numismatist, or a collector of coins. Of course I was never able to afford the more expensive sets of coins or individual pieces that one might see coming up for sale at Christies, but to me a coin is a little antique worthy of further research. At school I would always have to have complete sets of the bubblegum cards that were so popular at that time, standing in the playground swapping cards with my friends until that glorious moment when a full set had been attained. I discovered the wonders of collecting all things musical via two avenues. Firstly the classics as my Father was a great lover of Jean Sibelius and Edvard Grieg, a love that was so infectious as the house would fill with the wonderful strains of a full orchestra on a Sunday morning. Secondly, in my own little world, I discovered the Beatles at a very early age and began collecting their records: I mean everything! In the 80’s this collecting bug would manifest itself in some of the strangest ways. One example of this was following a visit to a market stall in Telford, Shropshire, where I picked up the strangest little antique for twenty pence. It was two flat oblong pieces of wood, about ten inches long, held together by some kind of metal device that, when tightened, would bring the two together to form some kind of a press. To be precise it turned out to be a Victorian Tie Press inlaid with mother-of-pearl. I would scour the markets and dealers of England looking for further examples and ended up with many of these presses of different sizes and types from many different eras. Don’t ask me why. To this day I still have no idea.

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