This article provides an overview of The Collecting Bug, a cloud-based software package specifically designed to help collectors cataloguing, sharing and managing their collections online. Using a simple and intuitive interface, you build your own custom designed website. Then add data, photos, scanned documents, PDFs, maps, links to related items and more.
- Cloud-based – Cloud-based simply means there is no software to download, maintain or backup – just log in on the internet, and you are ready to go. This also changes the way you interact with your collection – your entire collection is at your fingertips, 24 hours a day, everywhere you are.
- Harnessing the Power of the Internet – Being on the internet means your collection can benefit from this immense knowledge base. For example, suppose you had an interesting civil rights protest button from the 1960s. You can easily link it to Wikipedia articles about the civil rights movement and online photographs of civil rights protests. Immediately, your button springs to life.
Or if you have a puzzling item in your collection, you can send a polite email containing your question plus a link to the item to other, more experienced collectors. In my own personal collecting experience, I have sent emails to experts all around the world, and the vast majority have been happy to help. As a bonus, I made a few collecting friends as well!
- Images – Some collectors choose to record data only, but the real magic starts when you add photographs, as your database turns into a virtual museum with unlimited prime display cases. One person said, “It brought my collection to life.”
- Powerful Search – Type a word into the search box and every match is instantly located. One collector was surprised to discover they had unknown duplicates. Another collects football memorabilia and enjoys typing in a surname and seeing all the football cards of that player immediately appear, as well as sons and brothers. One collector said, “Seeing items side by side, I noticed links I had never realised before.”
- Sharing & Privacy – If you wish, you can share your collection with like-minded collectors around the world, and they can connect with you. The many privacy settings mean you share anonymously, and only the items and information you want.
- Getting Started – The Collecting Bug is designed to be intuitive, so it is quick to learn.
Initially, you start by creating a custom template, adding the fields that you want for your collection (e.g., for small objects, it might be: Title/Object Type/Manufacturer/Country of Origin/Date/Condition/Dimensions.) Then create a folder structure for the different categories in your collection. Now you are ready to start cataloguing. If you already have some form of previous catalogue – perhaps an old Filemaker or Excel file – this can be directly imported to become the basis of your new catalogue.
- Costs – The Collecting Bug is free for collections up to 200 items, and for larger collections there is an annual hosting fee (depending on collection size).
- Other Collections – As many people have already catalogued their collections, you can find a huge variety of approaches and resources for inspiration before getting started.
Several ESA member collections that have recently featured in The Ephemera Journal of Australia are available to view on The Collecting Bug: fireworks and Ida Rentoul Outhwaite .
- Next Steps – If you would like more information, contact Philip and he can email you a comprehensive illustrated brochure about The Collecting Bug, and help you get started if you would like to try the free option. Philip is also happy to help ESA members with any general queries about cataloguing their collection. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Philip Moorhouse is proprietor of The Collecting Bug, a website where collectors can catalogue, share and manage their collections. As a member of the ESA, Philip has helped many collectors, including other ESA members, publish their collections online. You can see these collections on The Collecting Bug.
Republished from Ephemera Newsletter and What’s On # 11, March 2021.