Etiquette in collectibles?

Social media has helped to demystify the eccentric collector who scurries away rare items in his basement, which no one gets to see. There are still those really reclusive collectors, but most do want to share what they have. Really, what’s the point of having a Decoder Ring but no one knows you have it? Collectors take pride in what they have amassed and social media has enabled them to easily share their stuff.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest are great outlets for collectors to show off their collections. You can upload galleries of images and get instant satisfaction from the retweets and likes. You could reach more people and get more eyeballs on your stuff than any traditional means. Before the Internet and Social Media, a collection’s coverage is normally limited regionally. Now all it takes is a few taps of the keyboard and clicks of the mouse (or swipes on a smartphone or tablet) for a collection to be seen worldwide. Now everyone can be a blogger (much to the chagrin of traditional media types).

Still, collectors will only share selectively. That cloak and dagger aspect of collecting still exist. It may be inherent with collecting, because the rarity of something means that not everyone will get to own it. So if you want something, you must be a little secretive in your acquisition process, lest you risk losing it to someone else. Sometimes smokescreens and outright deceptions may be employed. It’s not personal. It’s part of the game.

It’s also the part that etiquette dictates to not talk about. Everyone knows that it’s “See but don’t touch.” More importantly, it’s also, “Look at this, but don’t ask too many questions.” Collectors want to show you what they have, but they don’t like to discuss what it took or how much they paid. It’s similar to not talking about salary, religion or politics in the workplace, an unspoken but important etiquette while in polite company.