Why Do People Collect Things? 9 Common Reasons

vintage objects at flea market

Why do people collect things? Every collection of objects has a unique story, and each individual collector has a distinctly personal reason for their hobby. There are many reasons why people collect things, but most have a nostalgic component.

Nine Common Reasons Why People Collect Things

The nine common reasons why people collect things listed below are not mutually exclusive. Individuals usually collect things for more than one reason.

1. Family and Emotional Meaning

Almost everyone has a small collection of personal memorabilia that has familial and emotional meaning. These are collections of old family photos, greeting cards from friends, family, or lovers, flower petals from meaningful bouquets, strips of ribbon from gift wrappings, seashells, and other small reminders that bring back happy memories.

2. To Connect to Their Childhood

Others have collections from their youth, such as sports cards, comic books, dolls, teddy bears, miniature cars, and other things they loved as a kid

Teddy Bear Family

3. Knowledge and Learning

Some individuals are lifelong learners. They collect things they can learn from, such as books, periodicals, magazines, newspapers, and the like.

4. Historical Collecting

Some collectors are fascinated with history. These individuals collect historical memorabilia such as historical documents, autographed letters, and other historical artifacts that connect them to past events, heroes and heroines, villains, and ordinary people of the past.

Full Frame of DVDs

5. Pleasure and Enjoyment

Some collect for pure enjoyment and because it's fun. They might collect art because they appreciate beauty. Others may collect wine, music boxes, DVDs, music albums, or other music memorabilia such as posters, photographs, and concert tickets. All of these give a collector personal pleasure and enjoyment.

6. Collecting as an Investment

Many individuals think of collecting as an investment and collect rare and vintage items, like antiques, stamps, coins, toys, and even rare whiskies. They believe that the accumulation of rare or vintage items will ultimately be profitable and provide a measure of financial security.

Group of people at the flea market

7. Social Interaction

Regardless of why they started collecting, many people continue collecting because they enjoy the social interaction of flea markets, swap meets, and auctions. These are collectors who enjoy talking and exchanging information with fellow collectors and others.

8. Recognition and Prestige

There are also collectors who want recognition and prestige for putting together the best and most valuable collection of a particular thing. Many of these collections are ultimately donated to museums or learning institutions and prominently give thanks to the collector.

9. Thrill of the Hunt

Although most collectors began their collections for another reason, many people soon find that the joy and excitement of finding a new treasure for their collection becomes their primary reason for collecting.

Can Collecting be a Mental Disorder?

Collecting is a healthy and ordinary human activity. It's not helpful to interpret collecting through the filter of a mental disorder. A collection is most often just a collection. While it's true that some people may go overboard in collecting and blur the line between collecting and hoarding. Hoarding is an obsessive-compulsive behavior. Collectors pick and choose what they collect and have control over their behavior; hoarders do not.

Pile of old technology

What Do You Call People Who Collect Things?

A person who collects something is often known as "a coin collector," "a doll collector," and so forth. However, there are names that relate to collectors.


Items Collected




Coins and banknotes


Butterflies and moths






Teddy bears


Bird eggs






Beermats (coasters)


Matchboxes or matchbooks


Old bond and share certificates

Why Do People Collect Things?

Collectors invest a great energy, time, and sometimes money in their collections. But in return for their investment, most humans derive genuine pleasure and joy from amassing things that interest them and displaying their collections for everyone to see.

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Why Do People Collect Things? 9 Common Reasons