I'm a completist. Not so much in the sense that I always finish what I start. In fact I wish that were more often the case. But more along the lines that when I start something, I want to do every single aspect of it thoroughly.
Let's take the example of a great book from 1912 with 300 steam engine parts. Instead of picking the 30 or 40 best engravings, which really should be all that I need, I will sit and scan all 300 ... just in case. In case of what exactly, I'm not quite sure.
So last week when I went to my favorite archive in the world--the one where I travel 1700 miles each way and only visit twice a year--I was prepared. I stopped by earlier in the week for several hours to narrow down my focus to about 100 colored plates that I knew I wanted. I told myself I would be steadfast in my determination and stick to just the 100 best to scan.
And of course you know what happened when I went back with my scanner. I spent the first several hours wandering around in complete bliss, pulling out all kinds of ephemera until I had amassed literally 3000 different colored plates, engravings, chromolithographs, and other fun bits. Then I proceeded to spend the next two hours whittling it down, and then the final few hours madly scanning as much as I could as quickly as I could.
In the end I was exhausted from hauling everything around, covered in a thick layer of red dust from all the crumbling books, and completely content.
Because while I'm not quite sure what I will ever do with this:
I also found these:
It was a lovely haul, including 31 really grubby botanical engravings from 1846; another 12 German floral sets from the early 1900s; almost 15 bird eggs, another 15 bird nests; and nearly 100 French Fashion plates. Many of the scans I may never do anything with. But so much of the joy is in the discovery. And at least I will have them ... just in case.