Being a collector of something special throughout your life is a good way to pass some time and learn more about your chosen collectibles, their history, and others who collect them. Over years of helping our senior clients with the moving process, we have observed some very interesting collections. We have also seen a very fundamental truth of collecting: most of the value in the hobby is personal.
We like to think that all collectibles gain monetary value over time simply because older things that are well preserved are worth more. But that is not necessarily true, especially in the world collectibles. More often than not, a person’s collection will not bring in nearly as much at auction as anticipated. Some collections are downright worthless.
Collectibles Markets Regularly Fluctuate
Collectibles come in all shapes and sizes – from china and porcelain dishes to baseball cards to stamps. You can collect just about anything if you really want to. But what is it worth? The reality of collectibles is that their monetary value depends totally on a market that regularly changes. If there is no demand for the item you are collecting right now, it will not be worth anything.
Take Hummel figurines, as an example. As the Street’s Jason Notte pointed out in a 2010 piece, Hummels are worth very little on the secondary market because there are so many of them out there. Hummels have been made fairly steadily since 1935; first by a company named Goebel and now by Manufaktur Rodental GmbH. Furthermore, the only way a Hummel figurine is taken out of circulation is if it is broken or chipped. That doesn’t happen very often. Therefore, the demand does not keep up with an ever-growing supply.
Some of the other worthless collectibles mentioned by Notte include Beanie Babies, Hess trucks, Precious Moments figurines, and just about anything from Thomas Kinkade.
Collect Because You Love It
The point of this post is not to dissuade you from being a collector of something you love. It is to simply suggest that if you do decide to collect, do so because you love to do it rather than doing it as an investment in your financial future. People who collect for investment purposes are far too often disappointed when it actually comes time to sell. On the other hand, those who collect something because they adore the object of their desire tend to take great pleasure in their collections – not because of their monetary value, but because of their personal value.
Believe it or not, we have found that it is actually more difficult for many of our clients to part with collectibles they believe are investments. They are willing to hold onto their items until they can get what they believe is fair market value, which, in many cases, means they never end up selling.
The reality is that the value in collectibles is mostly personal. It’s true that every now and again someone hits it big with a collectible they paid just a few dollars for only to turn around and sell for thousands. But those kinds of investments are rare. If you are going to collect, do it because it brings you great personal satisfaction and enjoyment. Don’t worry about the investment potential.