© Tsekyi Thür

Frequently Asked Questions - Not to be taken entirely seriously either

When the collection of hunted trophies has grown considerably, it slowly but surely attracts other people's interest. Usually these are members of his own family, neighbours, friends and acquaintances who look at the collected goods either with a half-hidden shake of their head (probably meaning: "Why does this stupid need this old stuff? Is a single piece not good enough?") or with openly expressed admiration ("Wow! You have to open a museum!").  Such visits naturally provoke questions that are almost always the same, incomprehensibly.

Where did you get it all from?
Admittedly a legitimate question, because the abundance of what has been collected overwhelms all those who a) collect nothing and b) have never seen such sublime items at any flea market. This question is almost an invitation to a long and with increasing enthusiasm held lecture on my part, with which I describe my hunting hours every evening in various eBay portals in Germany, France, Great Britain and the USA. Which hunter would miss the opportunity to tell an unsuspecting audience about the many great moments of his hunting success?

What did it all cost?
How should a collector know this? He hasn't meticulously kept a record of how much he spent on what (I'm an idiotic outsider on this point; I actually kept very conscientious records from the start, so I know how much I've spent all these years - and the sum is really terrifying. I twitch every time I brood over what else I could have done with all the money; and the answer is lurking somewhere in my collector's brain - I could start another collection...). The collector knows in his heart that his collection is priceless in itself. Most of his collectibles are definitely rarities, even museum valuables, so very expensive, even priceless ... And a real collector doesn’t talk about his expenses for his collection anyway, especially not when his wife is nearby.

Haven't you found Aladdin's lamp yet?
To my great regret, I have to admit that I have not yet succeeded in doing this. If I ponder this mishap further, I am amazed to discover: a) Aladdin's lamp was a classic oil lamp, and I don't collect oil lamps, only kerosene/paraffin lamps; b) the lamp was probably made of pure gold and therefore very, very expensive; how should I be able to pay for that? It was probably just because of these factors that Aladdin's famous lamp could not find the way to my collection. The ghost in the lamp is still enjoying its vacation…

When is this collection complete?
Actually never, because a collection thrives on the fact that the collector always hunts for new pieces, and even has to hunt them. That is the essence of collecting. A collection is never complete. Countless other objects are still missing. However, there are factors that force a collection to end: when the collector becomes senile so that his brain can no longer deal with the collection, or when he dies. This is irrevocably the end of "his" collection. Other conceivable factors that could put an end to a passion for collecting, such as lost financial power, or space problems in a completely cramped apartment that is bursting at the seams, or even a spouse who is hostile to the collection, cannot seriously bring a collection to a standstill. The aging hunter goes on stalking even when his hunting utensils have become quite dull. If money becomes scarce, you borrow some (our banks suggest to us on a daily basis that we can afford anything as soon as we take their loans, and we really deserve it). If space becomes scarce, you become incredibly inventive as to where you can store your hunting trophies (after all, the car doesn't necessarily need the garage; or the guest room in the basement should be remodelled anyway; or the garden looks even nicer with the third and much larger garden shed). If the wife becomes too pushy and gives the murderous ultimatum: "Either me or your collection!", then you can at least make the correct (?) decision after a few decades of married life. In many cases, this results in even more space in the apartment, but it reduces the wallet considerably. In marriages that are still young, this decision will probably not be necessary straight away, because the collection is then not big enough and the collector still (hopefully) has the place of honour in the heart of his lady...

Are you planning to sell the collection?
Which thoroughbred collector sells his trophies? Are we collectors or dealers? That question is almost an insult. A collector loves his collection, knows the hunting history behind every piece, has fond memories of how much effort it took to acquire, repair, and complete the parts of his collection. And then sell? No, never. This is done by the heirs, the bereaved, as soon as the collector (hopefully after a long life full of happy moments of successful hunting) has given the time. The collection is then distributed in all directions, sold, monetized. In doing so, the deceased collector still fulfils something very important after his death: He makes other hunters happy who are now allowed to hunt his trophies.

Have you thought about giving the collection to a museum?
To be honest, yes. Perhaps in secret, perhaps loudly, but the collector involuntarily thinks of this option. Because he wants his collection (which he regards of course as very valuable and fully enriched with museum pieces) to be housed in a museum. On the other hand, there is the sober statement that today's museums are not at all interested in taking several hundred or even several thousand collectibles under their wing. Some pieces that are actually valuable in terms of culture or art history could perhaps be included in the permanent exhibition of a museum. The rest of the collection? Would inevitably disappear into the catacombs (read: storage magazines) of the museum and never again manage to please someone’s eye. Selling the collectibles is much better, because the individual collectibles delight other collectors, become coveted hunting objects and are in turn valued by their new owner. A far better, valuable option than putting the entire collection into a museum is to host a special exhibition in a suitable museum. In this case, too, only selected pieces are shown, but their number is considerably higher than in a permanent museum exhibition; and they are also described scientifically / in terms of cultural history / art history by the specialist staff, documented in a catalogue specially printed for the special exhibition, and made accessible to experts. The exhibited collection items receive a special, scientifically based appreciation that increases the pride of the collector immeasurably. But such special exhibitions in museums cost a lot of effort and also cause large amounts of money. Therefore, only valuable, interesting collecting areas come into consideration. I don't think any museum would devote a special exhibition to my old-fashioned stamp collection...

Is it not possible to publish the collection in an illustrated book?
Yes, it is conceivable, even secretly it is totally desirable, I admit. A large-format, bound book with professional photos of the individual collectibles, plus the necessary information, stories, thoughts ... That would be really great. You could leaf through a book like this over and over again, reread what you have already read, look over and over again at the photo you once admired. That would be a dream. I'm not just a collector of kerosene/paraffin lamps; I also love and collect books. I can't think of anything nicer than documenting my own collection, which has been compiled with great effort and with a lot of money, in a beautiful book and making it accessible to other interested people. But ... yes, there is always a "but". Can you find a publisher willing to take the risk of publishing a book that may only be bought by a few hundred people? Printing a book means first of all taking a lot of money into your hand, with an uncertain outcome as to whether the money invested will come back. In the case of highly sought-after collection areas (old clocks, Art Nouveau vases, porcelain dolls, etc., to name just a few), a book would be in great demand because the collector's community is quite large. But in the case of relatively insignificant collection areas (old kerosene/paraffin lamps probably also belong to this latter category), there is a great risk of being left with a large part of the edition.

How about trying an internet blog or website?
Yipp! This works out. Today many more people are at home in the vast expanse of the Internet. The younger generation in particular hardly ever picks up a book; you can find everything important (and also everything completely unimportant) on the Internet. I am not a “blog maker”. The "posting" of any object or thought and the subsequent (and sometimes completely superfluous) commenting annoy me. But my own website? With my own text and photos? Even bilingual, so that the majority of non-German speakers can read my lines? To be able to correct and supplement what has been written over and over again? This sounds really good. I want that and I'm working on it. A website exists for everyone and it is a "living object". I can change, add to, or correct it as I will. A website (if you work relentlessly on it) is always up-to-date, while a printed book is irrevocably pinned down during the printing process, with all typographical errors and outdated, even incorrect statements.


Finally, I want to explain the name Artoluys to my website. Arto is my nickname, as mentioned briefly above. Luys is the Armenian word for light (note the relationship to luce in Italian, lux in Latin, luz in Spanish, and even lys in Norwegian, etc., because Armenian is an Indo-European language - and not to be confused with Semitic Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ). With a little imagination, Artoluys can be described as "the light of Arto". Unfortunately this is a light that is many times more expensive than our artificial lighting with LED lamps today. On the other hand, no one has said that collectors are reasonable people. I owe the choice of Artoluys as the name for this website to Jürgen Breidenstein, a collector's friend and owner of hytta.de. I thank him very much for that.