This article was originally published in Martha Stewart

Ask any collector, and they can likely tell you the story—the time, the place, the thrill—of the piece that began it all: a Wedgwood, or perhaps cloisonné, vase tucked behind peeling books, forgotten on an antique shop shelf, or a primitive cutting board, overcome with patina, which felt its last slice a century ago. Perhaps they were dragged to a flea market as a child, arriving begrudgingly, but leaving changed—and a curator for life. So many of us heed the call to collect, amassing beloved objects over the course of our lifetimes, but why? Oftentimes, our motivations are as diverse (and abundant) as our collections, and while we can usually pinpoint the object that activated this hobby, it’s more difficult to iterate what drives it.