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Collecting and Collectibles

Collecting and collectibles comprise a relatively new and distinct form of consumption. Those who identify contemporary forms of collecting in modernity as some form of continuity with our primordial past as hunters and gatherers forget that most hunters and gatherers are nomadic and tend to have very small and portable material cultures. Critically, collecting in the modern period dates from the time when Europe began to expand beyond its own longstanding boundaries to explore a hitherto unseen world, its cultures, species, and objects. Europeans were astonished by the seemingly endless range of plants, artifacts, material cultures, and animals that a variety of wealthy individuals (and then institutions) began to collect and display—as a source of wonderment. Such collections were not unrelated to the scientific quests ...

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