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To Have and to Hold
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To Have and to Hold

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  86 ratings  ·  6 reviews
"Investigating the history of collecting from the Renaissance to our day. Blom shows a multiplicity of worlds: the scientific cabinets of the fifteenth century and an Italian scholar employed as dragon slayer; the 'Ark' of the Tradescants and a friend's betrayal; Emperor Rudolf II's Prague collection as 'practised alchemy': the macabre art of Dr. Frederik Ruysch, first amo...more
ebook, 345 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Overlook (first published 2002)
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Mikey B.
An interesting read on how collecting started, at first with the Lordly and wealthy. The first collections were very general - in an age of universal wisdom and corresponding universal illiteracy! These early collections were everything – stones, plants, cadavers, art books… Later collectors became more specialized and in our current age more accessible. In fact everyone becomes a collector and everything collectible by mass production. Children become indoctrinated at an early age to collect.

This was a lively and comprehensive look at collecting across time, place, and thing. I was particularly happy about the author's refusal to generalize, illustrating trends in collecting behaviors and attitudes through the accrual of anecdotes rather than resorting to psychological or sociological explanations. This project was aided by the fact that each chapter chose to focus on a particular collector or collection, the contents of which ranged from religious relics to plastic cups. For my own...more
[this originally appeared as an entry titled "A Needle in a Haystack" on my blog, Rampant Biblioholism]

I tend to skip around a lot in my reading. Anything that catches my eye is likely to end up on my list, regardless of topic. So I've been thinking about just what it is that's likely to catch my eye. The book To Have and to Hold: An Intimate History of Collectors and Collecting does it just right.

Firstly, it's pretty. Just look at it: it's interesting, it's a bit creepy, and it's completly app...more
Alison Kagen
Dreadful, a really disappointing book - offers such promise & delivers almost nothing at all. Poorly written, pretentious (footnotes all over the place but missing from important & obvious areas), clumsy (no captions for poorly reproduced illustrations, lengthy quotes for no benefit). Could have been great: describing collecting from small/minor to major, exploring the "why" not just the "what". Actually there is some "why" but it's inadequate, superficial. I've given 1 star - probably n...more
This was the best history of collecting that I have yet read, and yes, I have tried to read quite a few. The dry wit and straightforward way of Blom's writing made this a pleasure. Sadly, I left it on the airplane when I was heading home from a visiting artist deal in Ohio, but and considering buying it again just to look through certain passages.

If you are interested in collections or have artwork that deals with them, this is a must read.
The subject couldn't be more interesting -- and it's one dear to my heart -- but the utilitarian approach to the historical info dampened my enthusiasm a bit early on. Great material, though.
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Philipp Blom is a German novelist who currently lives and works in Vienna, Austria. He is best known for his novel, The Simmons Papers (1995). His 2007 novel, Luxor has not yet been translated into English. He is a professional historian who studied at Vienna and Oxford with a focus on eighteenth-century intellectual history. His academic works include: To Have and to Hold: An Intimate History of...more
More about Philipp Blom...
The Vertigo Years: Europe 1900-1914 A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment Enlightening the World: Encyclopédie, The Book That Changed the Course of History Twilight of the Romanovs: A Photographic Odyssey Across Imperial Russia The Simmons Papers

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