Building Your Collection

Building Your Collection

Everybody, absolutely everybody, is a collector.  Every age, race, creed, or socio-economic group, everybody around the world is a collector.  Some collect for profit, while others collect for pure fun and enjoyment.  Some collect for the thrill of the hunt, others enjoy bargaining and the feeling of satisfaction as a collection starts, grows, and matures.  From baseballs to butterflies, artwork to animal pelts, trading cards to ties, nearly everything can be collected.

I’ve collected for more than fifty years and learned some valuable lessons along the way.  Some of these lessons were learned the hard way, by making the wrong choice or wrong decision.  Others came from when purchasing the perfect item or collection, an indescribable “high” or feeling of accomplishment.  I’d like to share a few of these lessons.  These aren’t guarantees of success, satisfaction or profit when collecting, as there’s no such thing as a sure thing..  Rather, the goal is to enhance your future collecting pursuits.

For Profit or Asset Appreciation

Generally, older is better.  It’s a simple question of supply and demand.  An item from World War II or the turbulent 1960’s will be in shorter supply, as many items aren’t kept in mint condition for an extended period, unless they were stashed in grandma’s attic.

Big ticket items yield bigger returns.  More expensive items are typically more difficult to produce in quantity and quality.  Less than two hundred Super Bowl championship rings, containing real diamonds, gemstones, and gold are cast each year.  In contrast, millions of Funko Pop toys are churned out annually, and they are far less likely to grow substantially in value over time.

Anything made exclusively for collecting is likely not very collectible.  Early tobacco baseball cards, produced to stimulate tobacco sales and made of inexpensive cardboard paper, were usually thrown away minutes or hours after opening the pack.  Most were kept for a far shorter period than the tobacco tin.  Thus, they are in very short supply today.  In contrast, plastic beverage cups at ballparks, produced from cheap plastic available everywhere, and typically billed as “Souvenir Collector Cups,” are valued for little more than drinking.  

A collection is often more valuable than the sum of its parts.  You may start a collection for fun but buying a wide variety of exemplars, one piece at a time, may add up to a valuable collection worth far more than individual items in that collection.  As they say, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Collecting For Fun/Pleasure

Two time tested, straightforward strategies for maximizing your enjoyment of “Pleasure Collecting”:

Follow your bliss. That is to collect what you enjoy.  Don’t worry about trendiness, what your friends like, or what you see others collecting.  You will enhance your enjoyment and satisfaction as a pleasure collector by keeping a laser focus on what you like, enjoy and savor.

Enjoy the safari or hunt, not just the collected item.  I’ve always enjoyed the art of collecting, the search for the previously unknown or unattainable.  Surfing the web, attending garage and estate sales, collectors’ conventions or trade shows, a shopping vacation (where you shop multiple retail outlets) or sizing up an acquaintance’s collection are all super fun.  You won’t believe the places you’ll go and the new friends you’ll make.  Don’t wait to have fun until you reach the station.  Enjoy the journey itself.

I hope to see you again in Bobby B’s Collectors Corner.  Until then, happy hunting!

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