Duck Duck Book

60 – sex collectors
04.7.2009, 12:03 am
Filed under: social sciences

Sex collectors / Geoff Nicholson.
New York : Simon & Schuster, 2006.
[MCL call number: 306.77 N625s 2006; one copy, one hold]

I have long been curious about collectors.  What drives them?  Is their interest in collecting a compulsion, a passion, an emotional or intellectual outlet?  How does one collector’s interest in the pursuit of collecting differ from another’s?  Are there psychological dangers or benefits to collecting?  Is it a byproduct of consumerism?  Can careful amassing of objects or ideas bring collectors to a deeper philosophical or spiritual understanding, or do they just know more about their particular interest than people who are less obsessed? What actually makes someone a collector — does it require a particular degree of passion, a certain number of objects, or a specific approach to the work of gathering things together?  Are people who collect experiences, ideas, or other intangible things truly collectors?

I expected Geoff Nicholson’s Sex Collectors to be essentially a journalistic account of his encounters with individual collectors, descriptions of their collections, and maybe a little discussion of what motivates people to develop sex-related collections.  Nicholson does deliver this — in fact he provides a very rich account of his experiences meeting noted or interesting collectors and visiting museums and archives.  This journey forms the framework for the narrative, and it’s pretty fascinating, but it’s not the book’s only contribution.  Along the way, Nicholson troubles to examine the underlying motivations collectors seem to feel.  He considers possible hallmarks of “true” collectors.  He describes how serious collections change collectors’ houses, affect their personal relationships, and influence the patterns of their lives.  He wonders what defines a sex collection, as opposed to another kind of collection.  And he considers how his interest in sex collecting and sex collections might qualify him as a collector as well.

Sex Collectors is intelligent, clear, and interesting, and it provides a calm but engaged examination of two subjects — sex collections, and the universe of collectors more generally — that, in his narrative at least, are by turns bizarre, wholesome, and titillating.


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Looking for people who might be interested in hearing this interview of Geoff Nicholson about his book “Sex Collectors” on the Diet Soap podcast I found your blog. You can read a partial transcript of the interview here.

Comment by Doug Lain

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