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Collector vs. hoarder, what’s the difference ?


TTR
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I realize this is or can be quite incendiary topic and may have been covered here before, but recently it has come up in several conversations/exchanges I’ve had with colleagues, clients and friends.

 

While everyone seems to have their own, often personal, interpretation or perception of the differences (or similarities) and I’m pretty sure what the most prevailing general opinions are, but would like to know how people define them.

 

Also, perhaps worth keeping in mind that these concepts are not limited to just motor vehicles or item directly related to them, but anything and everything else people collect or hoard, be it kitchen utensils, literature, shoes, etc…

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I recall reading that the key difference is that the collector organizes the stuff, but the hoarder does not.  Also that (generally) the collector's interests are in specific areas, but hoarders often accumulate anything and everything.  I've had to deal with other people's huge accumulations of stuff several times, which leads to another possible criteria:  If you have to bring in dumpsters to carry it off, it's a hoard.  But if you can sell it (through dealers or auction houses) it's a collection.  Estate sales could be either.  

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As long as the thing(s) you are rationally accumulating give you pleasure just by looking at it/them you are a collector.

If you are rationally accumulating things against a future shortage you are a hoarder.

If you are amassing things because you can't stop and can't bear to get rid of them you have a known mental disorder associated with OCD.

So............Where do ya'll  fall on the spectrum?................

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Just dealt with a relative's estate, who was a hoarder. Loads (many truck & trailer) to the dump and the recycle bins, sold some and gave some away. It took a few months to get it almost gone. We may have even tossed stashed money or other treasures but we were just too tired to examine it all.

Edited by JFranklin (see edit history)
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For the last six weeks I've been cleaning out the house of an extended-family member, now out-of-state with closer kin and getting into desperately-needed assisted living.  The 20 cu yd dumpster went away full.  What @JFranklinsaid is the God's truth.

 

If you own a not-so-common pre-war car (worse if several of them), you acquire parts when available even if not needed--lest you spend months looking for an item when actually needed (at least that's the excuse I use!).  I try to organize parts by vehicle and tag them with their application--because somebody's gonna have to get rid of this stuff when I cack.

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I like anvils.

Over the years I accumulated 9 of them, all at VERY reasonable prices, some for 50 cents a pound. Most people that looked at them, then me, figured I had a mental disorder. Who NEEDS 9 anvils.

They gave me pleasure.

Now that decent anvils are going for $5 a pound I was able to make a rational decision to be rid of them. I sold all but one, a 308 pound Peter Wright I use in the shop...... A very tidy profit.

BTW, a good anvil is a very useful tool in any shop. Once you have one you'll wonder what took you so long to get one............Bob

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In a perfect (non-covid) world, much of my stuff will get carted off to swap meets and sold very reasonably (read: cheap) so I am rid of it. I love the buyers that carry stuff away by the wagon & cartload. That way I am scattering my affliction around to various other people and now they can deal with it. 

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20 minutes ago, Bhigdog said:

I like anvils.

Over the years I accumulated 9 of them, all at VERY reasonable prices, some for 50 cents a pound. Most people that looked at them, then me, figured I had a mental disorder. Who NEEDS 9 anvils.

They gave me pleasure.

Now that decent anvils are going for $5 a pound I was able to make a rational decision to be rid of them. I sold all but one, a 308 pound Peter Wright I use in the shop...... A very tidy profit.

BTW, a good anvil is a very useful tool in any shop. Once you have one you'll wonder what took you so long to get one............Bob

 

I have one at the house, and another at my shop about 30 minutes away. The first one that I got was about 30 years ago.

 

Agree on "Once you have one you'll wonder what took you so long to get one"

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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Part of the difference between collecting and hoarding is the mental discipline that makes you stop when: 1. you run out of disposable income, or 2. you run out of space to realistically store your acquisitions. I have had difficulty in the past with this but have accepted the limits as I got older. I have a three car garage so I can only have two hobby cars at a time. Space for my Automobilia is at a premium so I sell some on Ebay. My biggest problem is a shed overfull of heavy car parts for cars I no longer own, I do need to find a solution there. 

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I admit to having too many old cars now. I have 7. One is an ongoing project for 1.5 yrs. The other 6  are running and drivable to some extent, but could all use more improvements, i.e. cash and time. I definitely need to sell off at least 5 as I'm storing them off site from home. I'm supposed to be retired, but still have to work daily, mostly on those cars for no monetary return. It's now turned into a job, and I find little enjoyment in it!

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I call my stash/collection/hoard a "collection of collections". If I get more than two of a similar item, all of a sudden it becomes a collection. I have a very eclectic bunch of "stuff".

Picture 6254.jpg

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From my perspective,collectors take care of their things,try to preserve or improve their collection,and they buy,sell,and trade items.They have a purpose for the things they have.They are often profit driven,steadily making efforts to increase the value of their collections.

Hoarders seem to just accumulate things with good intentions of using them one day,but that day never comes.They think they might can use an item down the road and it just seems too good to let go.So,things pile up and never become useful,just getting in the way.

 

I have kept things in the past because I thought I might have need for it one day.After a few years I realize I'll never use it,so I get rid of it.We moved a couple of years ago and I gave away a tremendous amount  of stuff just to keep from moving it.

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It seems to me the difference between a hoarder and a collector  should be self evident  ,(if you  know the definition of the words)?

 

We have a hoarder in the family and it's not easy.

They hoard all sizes of boxes and cardboard and bring in new scraps almost daily and have we to secretely dispose of it ,but keep enough (hoard stock) around as not to freak them out or they will just triple their efforts, like the run on toilet paper..LOL!

 

It's like "ground hog day "the  movie's repetition,

  as if we are getting ready to move,every day, but we're not!

 

"OH! I brought home more boxes, they're real good ones! ,and some cardboard too", but we have no need.

Once in a while we hear"they'll be good for something,some day "or "maybe you can use these,they were just gonna toss them out at work,so I brought them home".

 

Our enclosed front  porch is stacked up on one side,15% of the basement and 40% of the double garage's walk up loft is loaded with whole boxes and collapsed  cardboard.

 

One mistake I personal made years ago was to use large cardboard flats to slide under the cars to work them  and our truely most beloved hoarder notice ! 

 

In the grand scheme of things, love wins out, after all it's only the untiddiness , tripping over and degree of fire hazard that is trouble..so no big deal.😨🍸

 

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When it comes to cars..........

 

A hoarder is someone who has countless vehicles, mostly in poor storage, and none run. They have dreams of driving them some day. 
 

Recent example: A guy who has forty five vehicles, a dozen are Pierce Arrows, and the rest a bunch of interesting open and closed cars. None have run in forty five years. At lunch I was asking about a particular rare and valuable car. I asked him if it was a “runner”. He said yes, and then I asked when he last drove it. He answered 1955. That’s a hoarder mentality. And before you ask, no........I’m not commenting further. We were able to get three cars out from him as he lost storage after well over fifty years. 

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At our storage facility, a customer passed.  He had over 50 vehicles and a dozen boats stored in open storage.  Most IMO were just above scrap.  They were 60's Ford "R" code and similar cars including convertibles.  Thank God for his daughter. She and a family friend have done a Herculean effort to move them all on to new owners.  I would guess that most of the cars sat there for at least 30 years. Our place was only one of the places he stored stuff.

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1 hour ago, Ed Luddy said:

I admit to having too many old cars now. I have 7. One is an ongoing project for 1.5 yrs. The other 6  are running and drivable to some extent, but could all use more improvements, i.e. cash and time. I definitely need to sell off at least 5 as I'm storing them off site from home. I'm supposed to be retired, but still have to work daily, mostly on those cars for no monetary return. It's now turned into a job, and I find little enjoyment in it!

I can appreciate your situation Ed. When my wife died two years ago I nearly went crazy. Everything we had normally done, including camping, fishing, mushroom gathering, and our frequent overseas trips, suddenly ended. Financially, I have no needs as I am retired military and law enforcement. Not meaning to say that I’m independently rich, it just means I don’t have a lot to spend money on. So, to invest my time into something other than sleeping, casino gambling, and driving myself further crazy, I bought a 1927 Willys sedan which begged for a lot of attention., That car is now drivable, and would take me wherever I would want to drive a old Willys. Last October I bought a basket case 1923 Dodge Brothers roadster. This car demands a lot of attention also. I like doing electrical, upholstery, mechanical, bodywork, painting, and have always enjoyed history. Between long coastline drives in the Willys and doing things on the Dodge, which I am under no pressure to accomplish, and can switch from doing anything I want from day to day I have no shortage of things to keep my mind occupied, and fill a organized daily schedule. On days like today, which I use as my scheduled downtime, I peruse the old car forums, and write stuff like this to people who share my hobby,,,, not my vocation. This fills my social needs, and keeps me out of the bars and casinos, and the cars fills my mental and physical requirements without having to answer to a snot nose, pimple face, body pierced supervisor for nothing other than a salary and retirement benefits. 
I have ordered another Stewart carburetor for my old Dodge, and will probably redo the upholstery in the Willys, and I have a lot of repair parts, including clutches, transmissions, heads, manifolds, distributor, and tons of little parts for both cars, but I am not a hoarder. I do consider these as necessary parts to continue my old cars to operate, I do not have a house filled with spark plugs, or old appliances. 
I did grow fearful of becoming a hoarder while doing find a grave and genealogy when I realized that people actually stole the information on dead people, and kept extensive files on it in the hundreds of thousands, in hopes they’d find a Civil War general or a famous sea captain they could claim as a direct relative.

Besides, if you didn’t have your six cars to work on, and occupy the other wise enjoyable time and achievement we call retirement, what else would you be doing to maintain your health and sanity?

Edited by Jack Bennett (see edit history)
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For many years I parked my cars as I lost interest in them .........my first car, a 1931 Cadillac coupe, sat for a decade unused. I finally sold it as I had 12,000 square feet of accumulated stuff........1966 Lincoln convertible sedan, and a bunch of other stuff. When I no longer had any more room, I decided to sell a few. It took about 18 months to be “ok” with it. Then I learned a new experience.........selling things gave me a lot of cash to allow me to upgrade. I quickly sold a bunch of stuff, and bought better cars.......fewer but better. Now I have evolved with a new way of collecting. Many people offer to buy my cars. Basically because they run and drive as new. Whenever I get a fair retail offer on one of my cars, I sell it. Sold my 32 Pierce Coupe at the PAS meet five years back. Never intended to sell it ever. There was an actual line of buyers when I said I would consider offers. I sold it for my asking price. The new owner has driven it thousands of miles, just like I did. I took the money and bought some new toys which I like even better. I sure miss the old coupe, but it want to a fantastic home of a friend, and it’s on the road regularly. I found a new skill set. Buy good cars, make them great drivers.......put 10k on them, and then let them go. It’s great fun. I have owned a bunch off cool stuff. And get to play with all sorts  of cool new toys. I wish I learned this back when I was 20, and not 45. I got a bunch of future cool cars in the pipeline. And I don’t even know what they are yet. The 1934 Pierce we took to the PAS meet this year was a great example. Took us a year to sort it. Drove it for three weeks around home, and took it to the meet. Drove all the tours, and sold it the last day. Fantastic experience, we have a new first time Pierce owner. And, we have the next three in line to do the same thing. The next car is going from Newport RI to San Francisco Ca......a cross county tour, we are gunning for a long distance trophy that is given by the Pierce club. We should have about 3800 miles on it one way. Rear wheels will start in the water of the Atlantic Ocean, and the front wheel will finish in the Pacific. Figured if we didn’t do a cross country trip in a Pierce Arrow once we couldn’t claim to be true old car guys. We committed to this on a whim last month after a funeral my nephew. Live while the living is good.......to hell with EVERYTHING else. I’m not going to croak and have any regrets.  We will blog the ride here like we did with the White. See you on the road. I’ll die broke, but have lived my life well.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Collectors keep things organized and clean.  They can collect old, rusty, and broken things, but they are still organized and clean.  Collectors know what they have. Hoarders do the opposite.  They often don’t even know what they have, and certainly don’t take the time to keep things clean and organized. 

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On the car front it all comes down to money. Money for space and buildings. 98 % of the cars, tools and parts are actually quite cheap compared to land and buildings. If you live somewhere where land is cheap count your blessings. Double bonus if older commercial warehouse space is reasonably priced. Ed's 12,0000 square feet would run $3 or 4 million  anywhere within 250 miles of my place. { Canadian side of the border } If you are willing to travel a day each way, in the Summer, Winter all time bets are off , out in the sticks in Northern British Columbia it might be possible for as little as a million.

If a person has a reasonable space to work with organization is just a matter of making it happen. If you are space squeezed organization is next to impossible unless you are talking about pocket watches or Dinky toys.

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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A hoarder will look at another hoarder and say "If my piles of stuff ever got as bad as his, "I" would do something about it.

 

A collector will look at a hoarder and say "Phew, what a bunch of junk".

 

Go ahead, read that two more times.

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1 hour ago, E-116-YH said:

I have known this fellow for forty years, 85% of what he collected was cars and parts but sometimes it was hard to tell.

 

Occasionally when I've answered an ad about

car parts for sale, the seller will say the response will

take a while, since he has to search and find an item.

I always thought to myself, "Well, just go get it off a shelf

and put it in the mail."  Seeing the picture of that hoard,

I can see why some sellers can't just "get it off a shelf!"

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7 hours ago, TTR said:

I realize this is or can be quite incendiary topic...

 

Also, perhaps worth keeping in mind that these concepts are not limited to just motor vehicles or item directly related to them, but anything and everything else people collect or hoard, be it kitchen utensils, literature, shoes, etc…

 

It's much more incendiary with guns and ammunition. Those of us who have bought and collected guns for a long time are now called "hoarders" by hysterical types who are easily alarmed by what they hear on TV. (This includes people both outside and inside the gun hobby.) The truth is I just like mechanical things of all sorts. I'd like to collect old wind up watches, but those can get expensive real fast.

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Erska said:

 

I recall reading that the key difference is that the collector organizes the stuff, but the hoarder does not.  Also that (generally) the collector's interests are in specific areas, but hoarders often accumulate anything and everything.  I've had to deal with other people's huge accumulations of stuff several times, which leads to another possible criteria:  If you have to bring in dumpsters to carry it off, it's a hoard.  But if you can sell it (through dealers or auction houses) it's a collection.

 

Bhigdog said:

 

As long as the thing(s) you are rationally accumulating give you pleasure just by looking at it/them you are a collector.

If you are rationally accumulating things against a future shortage you are a hoarder.

If you are amassing things because you can't stop and can't bear to get rid of them you have a known mental disorder associated with OCD.

 

I agree with both these accounts.  

 

I will add a 'collector' will also show progressive work on the projects, or if they are restored items, will maintain and exercise them on a regular basis.  A 'hoarder' just accumulates and keeps on accumulating until the space is full, and the items will be in the exact same state as they were when he first hauled them on his site 40 years previous. 

 

Craig  

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1 hour ago, E-116-YH said:

I have known this fellow for forty years, 85% of what he collected was cars and parts but sometimes it was hard to tell.

Picture#1.JPG

 

 

I am a collector (a collector of collections as keiser31 says!).

My dad was a hoarder. I love my dad, and have many fond memories both of growing up and of working with him in the family business for many years. But I said many times over the years that "when he died, the first thing I was going to do was order a big dumpster!" And I did.

 

I would wish his place looked only as bad as E-116-Yh's friends place looked! The reason the Paige I have was never restored is that after my dad bought it in 1967, it took only a month or so for it to be buried like the photo above! By the time the car became mine, I had restored several other cars and I haven't had the money or the time to do it since.

My dad had begun repairing radios in the 1940s, while in high school.  By the time I was born, he was a partner in one of the San Francisco Bay Area's first few television sales and repair shops.  He became a very early color television specialist (I saw the "bowl of fruit" when I was five!), and later a cable television pioneer. In later years, he decided to 'collect' early radios. He 'collected' them for more than twenty years. He was often talking about restoring each and every one of the (mostly complete?) radios back to working condition and looking nice. He started to restore several of them. He never finished even one. When he died, his collection of non-working radios that he was still planning to restore numbered well over two hundred!

Along with about ten collector cars he never restored, three of which we did talk him into selling a couple years before he died, and the truck loads of stuff he brought home from yard sales and auctions. Half the 'collector' cars he had left after selling the three cars? I had to give away. 

 

 

24 minutes ago, JamesR said:

It's much more incendiary with guns and ammunition. Those of us who have bought and collected guns for a long time are now called "hoarders" by hysterical types who are easily alarmed by what they hear on TV. (This includes people both outside and inside the gun hobby.) The truth is I just like mechanical things of all sorts. I'd like to collect old wind up watches, but those can get expensive real fast.

 

I only have a few, maybe eight, watches ranging from fifty to over a hundred years old (including a Studebaker watch!). So I guess I can say I do collect watches. The reason I do not collect guns is that THEY can get awfully expensive really fast also! Like almost any mechanical devices or daily use items connected with our history, I find the historic connections of firearms fascinating!

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5 hours ago, Jack Bennett said:

I can appreciate your situation Ed. When my wife died two years ago I nearly went crazy. Everything we had normally done, including camping, fishing, mushroom gathering, and our frequent overseas trips, suddenly ended. Financially, I have no needs as I am retired military and law enforcement. Not meaning to say that I’m independently rich, it just means I don’t have a lot to spend money on. So, to invest my time into something other than sleeping, casino gambling, and driving myself further crazy, I bought a 1927 Willys sedan which begged for a lot of attention., That car is now drivable, and would take me wherever I would want to drive a old Willys. Last October I bought a basket case 1923 Dodge Brothers roadster. This car demands a lot of attention also. I like doing electrical, upholstery, mechanical, bodywork, painting, and have always enjoyed history. Between long coastline drives in the Willys and doing things on the Dodge, which I am under no pressure to accomplish, and can switch from doing anything I want from day to day I have no shortage of things to keep my mind occupied, and fill a organized daily schedule. On days like today, which I use as my scheduled downtime, I peruse the old car forums, and write stuff like this to people who share my hobby,,,, not my vocation. This fills my social needs, and keeps me out of the bars and casinos, and the cars fills my mental and physical requirements without having to answer to a snot nose, pimple face, body pierced supervisor for nothing other than a salary and retirement benefits. 
I have ordered another Stewart carburetor for my old Dodge, and will probably redo the upholstery in the Willys, and I have a lot of repair parts, including clutches, transmissions, heads, manifolds, distributor, and tons of little parts for both cars, but I am not a hoarder. I do consider these as necessary parts to continue my old cars to operate, I do not have a house filled with spark plugs, or old appliances. 
I did grow fearful of becoming a hoarder while doing find a grave and genealogy when I realized that people actually stole the information on dead people, and kept extensive files on it in the hundreds of thousands, in hopes they’d find a Civil War general or a famous sea captain they could claim as a direct relative.

Besides, if you didn’t have your six cars to work on, and occupy the other wise enjoyable time and achievement we call retirement, what else would you be doing to maintain your health and sanity?

Finances and room are my prime concern. Having too many cars needing work taxes my mind as well. Just never knowing which one to tackle, drive, spend money on I know i'll never see again or  get to enjoy is turning my once dream into a burden. If I sell 4 of them, finish the Chevelle I can't stand to look at anymore and sell it as soon as it's running and in one piece, then I will take at least half that money and buy a turn key finished higher end car.

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A topic I've discussed many times with others.  From "Terry's Rules of Collecting" Rule Number 7:

7.   You gotta have showcases!  That’s the big difference between hoarders and true collectors.  Put your things on display instead of in boxes in the closet. Collectors need showcases, shelves, or at least bare walls.  Put your stuff on display where you can enjoy it.   (I collect show cases too!)

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1 minute ago, Terry Bond said:

A topic I've discussed many times with others.  From "Terry's Rules of Collecting" Rule Number 7:

7.   You gotta have showcases!  That’s the big difference between hoarders and true collectors.  Put your things on display instead of in boxes in the closet. Collectors need showcases, shelves, or at least bare walls.  Put your stuff on display where you can enjoy it.   (I collect show cases too!)

 

Lot of truth to that, I've managed to build two display cases, the rest is all around here. Kind of fun discovering things for the 5th or 6th time, always brings back memories of the first discovery and the long gone people involved. 

 

Bob 

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9 hours ago, Bhigdog said:

As long as the thing(s) you are rationally accumulating give you pleasure just by looking at it/them you are a collector.

If you are rationally accumulating things against a future shortage you are a hoarder.

If you are amassing things because you can't stop and can't bear to get rid of them you have a known mental disorder associated with OCD.

So............Where do ya'll  fall on the spectrum?................

 

 

This hits the nail on the head. 

 

I'm a bit of all three. I define myself as a collector and do maintain my collections, but I'm also a hoarder and I am well aware of it. I have two storage units full of stuff, and there are a few more things I want to collect but don't have the money to do so. The saving boxes thing is very real too. I have boxes of every size available. I do use them for mailing but I have more than I need. Can't bring myself to throw out anything usable. 

 

I'm well aware that this isn't mentally healthy but the thought of not having my stuff is worse by far. I've made a concentrated effort to cut down on the random acquisitions and only add to my main hobbies. 

 

I also realize that if I hadn't been paying for two storage units for the last 20 years I could have had an old car or two also, my lifelong dream that I doubt will ever be fulfilled.

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7 hours ago, edinmass said:

Live while the living is good.......to hell with EVERYTHING else

My sentiment exactly.  The kids can clean up the mess in return for all the money!!!   Sounds like a great cross country tour, can't wait for your blog.

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I started collecting old radios and TV sets when I was a teenager. I don't know, I just always liked them and gradually I learned how to make most of them work. They can often be had very cheap, especially "distressed" examples, and especially at auctions. Essentially I began operating a mission for homeless electronics...and none ever left. Whatever space I had available became filled. Once I totally ran out of space I stopped, but as soon as more space became available I bought again. At the peak I probably had 600-700 radios and 120 TV sets. Many I bought simply on the theory that if I didn't, nobody else would (great logic, eh?) I had them stacked like cordwood in the attic and a 10x20 shed packed so tight the doors would barely close. And then...

 

One day a switch went off. It helped that the small business I owned was failing thanks to the Great Recession. I started selling stuff and found I obtained as much joy from seeing it go as I had in acquiring it. I still have a collection but it's much more manageable, and I'm still working on getting rid of inventory. It's a slipper slope. My wife feels I'm much worse than I would admit.

 

It can happen with all sorts of things. I've seen it with old books, 8-track tapes, wringer washing machines, one guy I know spends thousands a month on old advertising pieces. He does sell some but much of it seems to go in a black hole. I'm not sure that I've seen it with cars and trucks firsthand although there have been some "collections" locally that I feel bordered on hoards. With vehicles I'd say if it isn't seeing use for years at a time, or isn't in active restoration (as in something actually being done to it at least every month or two), and you have several that fit this description, there might be cause for a raised eyebrow.

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I've helped liquidate 3 major estates with cars.  100, 50, and 15, plus a lifetime of accumulated car parts and other collectables and not so collectables.  There is a fine line between hoarding and collecting. Not sure where to draw it.  But trash, money and organization (or lack thereof) are factors.

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I suspect that hoarders are of an odd mind set. (a polite way of saying crazy?)

There used to be an old gal in my neighborhood that didn't get out much. I spoke to her on occasion just as neighbors might do.

I knew that she was a crazy old bat with a house FULL of newspapers. Everywhere newspapers.

But she could at least carry on a conversation and one might not expect that she was bat-sh*t crazy.

On occasion talking over the fence she might say "Oh, I read something about that".

Then a week, month, or year later she might come running across the yard newspaper in hand "Hey !!, I found that article" and would make me read it.

Often I had forgotten all about the subject, but it made her happy that I would read it.

Her family filled up a dumpster.

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