The need for collectors

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Fri Apr 7 06:57:41 EDT 2000

Stan Cabigas made good points about private collections, particularly in 
little explored areas. However, I remember that only a few years ago a 
large private collection in Malaysia was broken up for sale by the 
"estate" after the collector died.  Apparently the individual items sold 
separately had greater value than an intact collection, which might 
have been donated or sold to an appropriate institution. 

It struck me as tragic at the time.  Rather like dealers who buy old 
monographs and tear out the plates which sold individually have greater 
"value" than an intact book (don't get any ideas please). 

Making "arrangements" to have ones private collection maintains in some 
socially useful manner would seem to be a reasonable responsibility. As 
an example, the largest private collection of bird specimens, was sold 
intact to a museum.  The story goes that in the mid-20th century Lord 
Walter Rothschild of England came into some financial embarrassment and 
apparently owed (touching off an international scandal along the way).  
But the collection remains immensely valuable scientifically. 

M. Gochfeld 

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