It is certainly a loss to the medal collectors when James Brown decided to retire from collecting them. A loss because the community loses the great enthusiasm and energy that he had while assembling his great collection.
Great job James!
If members don't mind, I thought it would be an appropriate time to help some of the less experienced members of the community to understand more deeply what runs through the mind of an advanced collector, and the collecting process. After all, this is collectSPACE, right?
I use James only as an example as I have not talked with him, so I am not saying this is in any way his specific situation. But his sudden announcement was textbook in what I have witnessed and been a part of for 35 years.
I have come to the conclusion that the requirement for the advanced collector is passion, which is mostly driven by the hunt for the objects. James has collected the Robbins Medals and has been consumed by them for years. I am sure he would confirm that there were nights that he laid awake thinking and dreaming of the missing medals that he needed to make his collection complete. And it is funny and confusing that when one does acquire one of those elusive items to fill another missing spot in a collection, the focus quickly moves on to the next missing spot. Sure, it is a great feeling to have won a battle, but the bigger war to win is to complete the collection.
What is equally interesting in my observations over the years is how many collectors swear that they would never ever sell a particular piece or pieces. Then, one day, seemingly out of nowhere, he or she awakens and decides they have had enough and will be selling. In James' example and in many of my own experiences, the collection became complete, or as complete as it could be. The hunt was over. The challenge was over. The sense of completing the impossible is no longer because you did it. I qualify that the motives for the collecting are still pure. No one should collect something because someone says it's a good thing.
If I were a betting man, I would wager that James will be back into the medals one day, probably with a different focus though. It's just the way it is.
I have collected the Robbins Medals a number of times. Each time I returned with a different focus. First, I collected any medal. As I focused more clearly, I sold these off and collected only Apollo medals from a crew member. I have to say this was one of the finest collections and efforts I had ever put together, and it took years. But, once complete, I sold it. A few years went by, and now I collect only a handful of what I believe is the most important and rare medals, that I claim I will never sell. We will see.
What I believe is significant and important about this whole idea is that the hobby is left in better shape than it was before the involvement of the collector that went through this process. James' passion with the medals led him to post a great web site that allows new collectors to see what they need. My passion with the medals led me to publish two books dedicated to them. So, my comments are not meant at all to discourage, only to understand. I have also learned that it is when a collector's passion is at its high that the community benefits greatest. That is the time that James created his website, and when I wrote my books. So, if there is a message to other collectors who are in their prime, please write about what you know, make a web site, publish an article, and spread the word. It is wonderful to be a helpful part of something that is growing.
— Howard C. Weinberger