Given the title of this blog I need a bit more space than usual to cover the rant that follows. It's a subject, however, that's been on my mind over the past couple of years as I've delved into library and book history, not to mention as I continue my pursuit of Canadian bookplates and the stories of their sellers and owners.
Having come from a long line of antiquarians, dealers, and collectors, I've been exposed to just about every known hobby as well as the characters they attract. And while every hobby has its ups and downs, nothing endangers the longevity of one's enjoyment of collecting something more than having to deal with two particularly troublesome folks in the collecting business - the hoarder and the snob.
This past week I've run into both of these archetypes. One guy shoved in next to me at a show and seeing the bookplates I had found, actually tried to outbid me with the dealer right as I was paying for my purchase. He then announced his claim to first refusal on any other bookplates at that table. When sending another guy an email asking a question about the provenance of a particular bookplate, I was condescendingly informed that as he was the only "serious" dealer in his entire country of over 300 million people how dare I challenge his opinion and bother him with such trivial queries. And then these people wonder why everyone thinks their hobby is lame and marked for extinction.
I've had a couple of friends who took up bookplate collecting, only to leave the hobby after their encounters with the hoarder and the snob, and it's a shame really. Given that even the most organized bookplate societies have only a couple hundred members worldwide at best, if people are discouraged from joining the hobby by such folks or treated with disdain when they show a genuine interest, more bookplates will end up in the bin than in albums. Worst of all, no one will really care. Food for thought. Until next time...