Sunday, July 8, 2012
Over the years we have collected tons of plastic from 1000 yards of one beach - plastic that is evidence of our shared mania for toss-away ease. We've been strangely attracted to this stuff from beautifully patina-ed shards to colorful toys carrying stories of our cultural past. The two of us have become highly competitive creating hierarchies of distinction ”—difficulty of finding, rarity—in our “cabinet of wonders.”
Some collections have intrinsic market value—silver coins from Imperial Rome, hand-tinted illustrated books from the 19th Century. Some collections have great value for the very continuation of biodiversity—in seed-banks containing the “germ plasm” of life. In prehistory, collecting a bit of native gold or a stone of azure lapis found in a stream elevated status propelling one’s genes with advantageous mating.
All collections gain value by telling a story. Whether it is the data collection in a birder’s “life list” packed with the experience of “been there, seen that”—or a fossil collection telling tales from the Earth’s book of life—the deeper the story, the greater the value.