To Have and to Hold: An Intimate History of Collectors and Collecting

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9780140294804: To Have and to Hold: An Intimate History of Collectors and Collecting

The acquisition of objects is close to the heart of what it is to be human. In the world of the collector this acquisition is divorced from utility, becoming its own, endlessly varied justification. Philipp Blom examines the various causes and forms of the collecting impulse, from the joy of identifying and satisfying a need to possess, to the creation of comforting taxonomies.

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About the Author:

Philipp Blom has written two novels and is a widely published journalist. He has worked as an historian and a book editor.

From Publishers Weekly:

The mania of collecting, a pastime usually reserved for the most wealthy of individuals, has a long history, says German-born journalist Blom. For many collectors, "money is no object, and objects are everything." Blom begins his formal, idiosyncratic chronicle in the 16th century, when the Renaissance-fueled explosion of scientific inquiry led to a boom in what the Dutch referred to as cabinets of curiosities. Typically stocked with small antiques and remains of strange animals and men (fake and real), they were popular among the rich and bourgeois across Europe through the next few centuries. Blom follows the tradition into the dark castles of crazed aristocrats and obsessed collectors (such as the 18th-century German doctor who had a collection of skulls taken from the local gallows and asylum) who thought to compile small, neurotically labeled and catalogued worlds, which countered the chaotic one outside their walls. Although Blom's book sticks mainly to highbrow collecting-e.g., old master drawings, snuffboxes, architectural models, human skulls, books-and does not come to any conclusions on what drives people to collect, it is an admirable attempt to chart the history of an obsession. 53 b&w illus. and photos.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Blom, Philipp
Published by Penguin Books Ltd (2003)
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