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Collecting things is the world’s biggest hobby: there are very few people who do not collect something, consciously or otherwise. The perennial popularity of such television programmes as Antiques Roadshow and Bargain Hunt – watched and enjoyed by tens of millions of Britons – is eloquent testimony to its enduring appeal. As a compulsive collector of items as diverse as comics, coronation mugs, British prime ministerial autographs, football memorabilia and wickerwork from Botswana, Hunter Davies is well placed to write about the fascinations and frustrations of ‘treasure-hunting’. In Confessions of a Collector he writes affectionately about fifty different collections that he has built up over the years – from first issues of magazines and newspapers to Beatles memorabilia, and from biscuit tins to Lakelandiana. In his inimitably enthusiastic style, he describes how his collections came into being, tells the intriguing stories behind the items in them, and recounts his triumphs and disasters. He also discusses the nature of the urge to collect and how people can set about building their own collections. Hunter’s narrative touches anecdotally on the economics of collecting, but this is not a book of lists, facts and figures – it is a book to be read and savoured, rich in vignette and reminiscence drawn from the deep well of its author’s multi-faceted enthusiasms. At one level the act of collecting is simply the lazy person’s inability to throw anything away; at another, it shines light into forgotten but fascinating nooks and crannies of our past. As Hunter Davies says: ‘It’s not just another collection, it is social and economic history!’ Confessions of a Collector is both the perfect introduction to, and a personal celebration of, the strangely compelling world of collecting.
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