Cataloging A Lifetime

Jim started collecting Asian art in college. It’s been an ever-evolving lifetime passion. Something like 58 years after his first purchase, I’m sitting down to inventory what we have. Amazingly, Jim has manila folders full of records. They are roughly chronological and tell a very organic story of purchases, sales and trades (along with chatty handwritten notes from dealers and fellow collectors) but nonchalantly leave out the property-splitting results of two divorces. Data, but not a database; my husband’s brain.

My job is to find the most efficient path to matching up what we actually have with a purchase record (if possible). Then we can take photos and can enter the final inventory into a real (boring) database. Then we can begin the research on what is valuable and what is merely sentimental. Like any puzzle game, it’s fun when you’re making progress but maddening when you’re stalled out.

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