I’ve had the privilege to work with a number of collectors since I started my business and also spend a lot of time reading about different collecting trends. If you or a friend / family member has a collection or some sort or perhaps just want to start one, here are a few basic guidelines for a good collection.
Collect what you like. Owners of great collections have a passion for what they collect. They can usually tell you anything that you want to know about their collection, including the history of the item(s), variations, errors, etc. If you collect solely with the hope that your collection is an investment, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment down the road.
Do your homework. If you’re serious about building a good collection, you should learn about your subject as much as possible. Which pieces are considered entry level and which are advanced? What’s an acceptable level of damage or wear? Do reproductions or fakes exist and if so, how do you tell the difference? Where are the best places to get good deals?
Buy the best quality that you can afford. Unless you plan to collect cars, then most collections can be started with a relatively modest amount of money, perhaps with as little as a few dollars. Over time, as your collection grows, you may find yourself shifting from quantity to quality, which typically means greater expense may be involved with each purchase. I know of one local coin collector who has told me he’s at the point of adding a new coin to his collection every 1-2 years, due to the particular quality and expense associated with his collection.
Keep the box. If whatever you collect comes with specific packaging or a box, be sure to keep it, ideally in the same condition that you originally received it. Boxes and packaging materials can add 10%-30% to the final value of a collectible and can sometimes be harder to find than the collectible itself. A vintage Barbie box is worth $25-$50, a vintage Rolex box may sell can sell for $100 or more, and a 1950s Hubley Atomic Disintegrator toy cap gun box may fetch up to $400 (without the cap gun!)
Pass it on to other collectors. Whether you spend a few years or a lifetime putting together your collection, at some point, it will be time to pass it along. If family members or friends don’t share the same level of enthusiasm for your collection, don’t burden them with having to deal with it themselves. Take the time to find a good outlet to either sell or donate your collection to others who will appreciate and take care of the items as you did.
Chris DiGiovanna is the President of Trader Chris Consignments