Thanks for initiating this discussion.
For me, it’s a combination of the thrill of the chase, the history behind the item, and the aesthetics, although this latter factor may seem a bit strange to some. To illustrate this, the very first thing I collected as a kid in the 1950’s was a Belgian WW1 medal, for service in 1914-18, which is bell shaped, with a very striking profile of a very dignified soldier, wearing an Adrian helmet which bears a laurel wreath. It was the image that
I started collecting when I found my first Mauser cartridges in a field next to my parents' house next to Armentières. I was eight years old. Then shrapnel, schrapnell balls, darts...
That's how I became a historian. When I was 18, we used to walk through the fields with a metal detector to find our happiness.
It was my time in the army as a research-writer in a research centre that made me love the orders of chivalry. I've been collecting them for 24 years now.
Thank you for your most interesting comment. The thrill of the chase didn't interest me in the beginning but over time it started to overshadow the act of simply adding yet another medal or group to the collection.
I know the way I got into collecting is like so many other people; through a sibling. I also know that my love of history is barely unique in a place like this. So I know I have a shared background with many people. A less shared area - perhaps - is that I've always loved the thrill of the chase. When I decide I want, say, a 1914 trio with an original bar, to a cavalry unit, the utter thrill of getting out there and, (a) finding groups that fit the criteria and, (b) comparing them re: ranks, uni