The Fugger's own collecting practices are central to understanding their role in relation to princely collections. In this period, collecting by its very nature was a communal activity. Princes, scholars, merchants, or apothecaries assembled their collections through complex systems of exchange, gift giving, commerce, patronage, and other forms of social and financial intercourse. To some extent, the activity of collecting provided a social nexus, in which noble, scholar, tradesman, and even craftsman could participate in the same realm. By participating in this system as collectors as well as purveyors, the Fuggers and other such families placed themselves within an intellectual and social milieu that furthered much more than their business goals. As a result, at least in part, the Fuggers gained the rank of minor nobility, status as legitimate scholars and humanists, and a role as patrons of the arts, scholarship, and technology.