Rarity is valued above all else.

We take for granted all the wonderful that are around us. They are ordinary. We go off in search of the rare.

I have an interest in collecting records. If you look at 1950s Doo-wop records, some sold millions and others just a handful. The likelihood is that the big sellers were better than the flops. However, that is not reflected in their value. The million sellers are common and command very little but the flops can fetch enormous prices, even if they are atrocious.

I have a friend who, many years ago, was attempting to collect every single released by the Chess label. Many of those were easy to get hold of at very reasonable prices. Some singles did not sell and, because of their rarity were fetching big prices. It had no relationship to the quality of the music. He spent years searching through second hand record shops. It was the thrill of discovering one that made it all worthwhile.

Once we were surrounded with a huge number of wild animals – hedgehogs, frogs, toads, slowworms, lizards and grass-snakes were common. They weren’t valued. Now they are rare people are valuing them more.

The same with our wild birds. There used to be a rich variety. Now we see few. The common ones – like sparrows, crows, sea-gulls, pigeons and blackbirds we see all the time. We almost view them as vermin. Yet enthusiasts will cross continents for just a glimpse of a rarity. On a walk a while back I was invited to have a look down a telescope at one of our rarest species – a Smithson Tennent – I’d never heard of it. It was a small brown nondescript little bird but its presence had created excitement. In the background were these most beautifully coloured cock pheasants in all their glory – but they were common and of no interest.

The internet has reduced the value of so many things. Instead of the fun of hunting out those rare records you can type in your wants and it’s delivered the next day. My Chess single collecting friend could have assembled every last one in just a day! He could have downloaded them in a matter of minutes! He has been robbed of the excitement of discovered.

There are good things about rarity. It has taken the value away from so much.

We take for granted the wonders we are surrounded with. We are in danger of all our wonders becoming rare. Will we only value nature when its gone?

Rarity has many ramifications.

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