Charles Holland on collecting:
In his essay Unpacking My Library, Walter Benjamin described the act of collecting as one that gives life to objects, creating a frame for them to exist. “The acquisition of an old book”, he wrote, “is its rebirth”. Outside the collection objects have no meaning or, perhaps, only their everyday, quotidian meaning. We need the collection, Benjamin suggests, in order to see objects outside the blur of habit in which we use them. This is the justification of the collector, someone who breathes life into the things he or she collects.
Interesting in that this assumes that outside a collection, an object ceases to be useful, but it is this very state that we often observe and spot value or use in objects. We spot vintage Singers or Smith-Coronas and there — in their isolation — see their meaning. If these objects were sitting alongside dozens of others, would we call them out as meaningful in the first place?