After being an avid collector for many years, I know how important Collectibles Empowerment is. I often meet people that are keenly interested in purchasing collectibles yet they are hesitant to do so because their knowledge as a collector is limited.
Hence the purpose of this Collectibles Empowerment artcle. Collectibles Empowerment will provide you with the knowledge needed to assess, acquire, and maintain collectibles which will in turn give you the confidence needed to buy and sell collectibles.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Collectibles?
- 2 Determining The Value Of Collectibles
- 3 What Constitutes A Collection Of Collectibles?
- 4 Protecting Collectibles
- 5 What Are The Benefits Of Owning Collectibles?
- 6 Who Collects Collectibles?
- 7 How To Find Collectibles
- 8 More Collectibles Empowerment Content
What Are Collectibles?
The term Collectibles is defined as objects that have certain qualities or characteristics which someone finds interesting, memorable, meaningful, or valuable (emotionally and/or monetarily).
In addition, items may be declared as “Collectibles” if they are:
- historically significant
- the first of its kind
- the only one of its kind (i.e. only 1 made or the only one made with a flaw)
- signed, autographed, used, or made by a notable public figure (memorabilia)
Furthermore, the broader meaning of the term “collectibles” may include any object which someone deliberately collects in order to expand and/or complete a collection.
Determining The Value Of Collectibles
In this Collectibles Empowerment article, when we say “value” or “valuable”, we are referring to an item’s monetary worth. To determine the value of Collectibles, you can:
- have them appraised by a professional; and/or
- conduct your own evaluation of the items
Getting Collectibles Professionally Appraised
Professional appraisers are accredited experts with ethical standards who are paid to analyze a person’s personal property and give an opinion of the item’s value. They have a formal education in appraisal theory which includes specialty courses in principles, procedures, ethics, and law.
Upon completion of the course, they are tested for certification by an appraisal association. An appraiser must also complete hands-on training as an apprentice for auction houses, art galleries, estate liquidators insurance services, museums, or dealers.
In addition to making an assessment based on their education and work experience, the appraiser’s methodology also includes utilizing various business tools such as comparing the item’s condition to an industry grading scale and conducting research.
After thoroughly analyzing an item, an appraiser provides a written Collectibles Empowerment report with the following information:
- item’s detailed description
- item’s Fair Market Value
- item’s replacement value
- procedures used to establish the appraised value
To find a qualified professional appraiser, check with various societies, associations, estate liquidation services, and/or auction houses such as:
- American Society of Appraisers
- Appraisers Association of America
- International Society of Appraisers
- Keno Auctions
- Mahn Miller Collective, Inc.
- Skinner Inc.
- Just Answer
Appraisers charge a flat fee or an hourly rate (about $200 to $400 depending on their expertise). They should not ask for a fee based on a percentage of the item’s value, nor should they offer to buy any items they have appraised because it is a violation of ethics.
Conducting Your Own Appraisal of Collectibles
On the other hand, with some Collectibles Empowerment, you can evaluate the Collectibles yourself to get an approximate appraisal value. Start by doing some comparison shopping.
Visit places that sell similar items to get the selling price and speak with the owners about consumer interest in the item. Also, do some research on the internet.
Check online price guides and auction websites to see the “sold” amount for an identical or similar item and the date when it was sold (and make a mental note of the asking price for items that haven’t sold).
Here are some websites that are great for conducting research:
- Antiques Roadshow
- Heritage Auctions
- Greatest Collectibles
- Antiques Prices
- Value My Stuff
- Morphy Auctions
- Metropolis Collectibles
- The Sale Room
Additionally, answering the following questions will help you to determine how much Collectibles are worth (more Collectibles Empowerment):
- What is the copyright year? When was the item made? The older it is, the more valuable it is. Items made 100+ years ago are considered “antiques”.
- Is it rare or retired? If an item is no longer being distributed, available, or in circulation, it is considered “hard-to-find” and is therefore worth more.
- What is the production quantity? How many units of the item were originally produced? If an item was produced in a small quantity, check to see if it is numbered.
The item’s specific edition number should be written somewhere on the item itself. Numbered items, referred to as “limited-editions”, are considered more valuable.
A low edition number (i.e. 22/1200) and a high edition number (i.e. 1160/1200) are more valuable than the middle numbers (i.e. 714/1200).
Also, limited-editions should come with a Certificate of Authenticity (or “COA”) which specifies the editions number.
- Is it a popular item? The more famous and well-liked brand names are valued higher. Note that the public’s interest in an item often fluctuates based on several factors such as social trends, media exposure, environmental impacts, and newsworthy events.
Take lava lamps for example. They were a big hit in the 60s and early 70s but by 1979 the interest in the lamps died down. Then, because of the Austin Powers movie “Spy Who Shagged Me”, and the television series “That 70’s Show”, lava lamps got their groove back.
- How reputable is the distributor/manufacturer? Companies that have been in business for a long period of time are more experienced thus well-known for their craftsmanship which makes the item worth more (i.e. pewter by Rawcliffe).
- Is the creator alive? Typically, if the creator/artist has passed away, the item usually increases in value.
- Does it have cultural significance? Items that aesthetically, scientifically, socially, or spiritually had an impact on past or present generations are more valuable.
- Does it have historical importance? Items in connection with events and developments that profoundly affected a lot of people’s lives which made an impact on our history are more valuable.
- Is the item authentic? Ultimately collectors want authentic items, not reproductions or counterfeits. Look closely for:
- identifying marks
- slight differences in the brand logo
- slight differences in the brand design
- slight differences in the spelling of the brand name
- slight differences in the brand colors (i.e. Coca-Cola uses a specific red)
- place of manufacture.
- Is it different from what it was intended to look like? For instance, a nickel that was misprinted with a three-legged buffalo is very valuable (as opposed to the standard/intended four-legged buffalo).
- Was it a promotional release? For instance, does the item feature original artwork that was then replaced on subsequent releases? Promotional releases are typically priced higher than regular/standard releases.
- Is it signed/autographed? The signature or autograph of a famous public figure on the item always increases the value.
- What is its quality (how was it made)? High-Quality items are priced higher. Take a close look at the workmanship (i.e. stitching, fastening, welding), materials used, the technique used (i.e. handmade vs factory), and skill level (i.e. the amount of detail).
- What is its condition (physical appearance)? Look at how well it has aged (fading, chips, scratches, missing parts, etc). The better the condition the higher the value.
Collectors usually convey an item’s condition based on a grading system. Each industry uses its own grading system (i.e. grading coins is different than grading books). However, there are some general terms that can be applied to most items which are:
- M (Mint): never used; in perfect condition.
- MIB (Mint-in-box): never used; in perfect condition; in its original packaging complete with instructions and attachments (i.e. tags).
- MNB (Mint No Box): in perfect condition but not in original packaging.
- NM (Near-Mint): looks new; may or may not have the original packaging.
- HTF (Hard to Find): rare.
- EX (Excellent): barely used; no damage; minor signs of wear but hardly noticeable.
- VG (Very Good): looks very good; has minor defects (i.e. chip or light color fading).
- G (Good): used with defects; has medium defects (i.e. color loss, chips, cracks, tears, missing parts, dents, abrasions).
- P (Poor): used heavily; severely damaged; beyond repair.
What Constitutes A Collection Of Collectibles?
Collectors usually look for Collectibles that are unique unto themselves yet have something in common. A “collection” is the accumulation of items that have been grouped together based on that common denominator.
The common denominator might be a company brand (i.e. all Pez candy dispensers), or it might be the property featured on the item (i.e. Star Wars plate, Star Wars figure, Star Wars Lunch box, etc.), or it might be the type of item (i.e. stamps).
A stamp collector might group their collection even further. For instance, items can be sorted by country, by holiday, by persons of interest (i.e. celebrities or presidents), by issue date, or by monetary value.
An additional example is an art collector who acquires paintings. Although every painting is different, art can still be sorted and grouped depending on various factors such as:
- Artist (i.e. Picasso)
- Materials used (i.e. oil paint)
- Concept/subject matter ( i.e. naked ladies)
- Period in history (i.e. romanticism)
Many collectibles are produced as part of a themed series which are given a series production number. A hardcore collector strives to obtain every item in the series, sorting them by series number, in order to have a “complete” collection.
Once a collector has acquired their precious item, protecting their investment so that it retains (and increases) its value is of the utmost importance.
Getting Collectibles Insured
Depending on the monetary worth of your valuables, you may want to consider getting your items insured so that you are covered in the event they are damaged or stolen.
Not all homeowner insurance policies provide coverage for all Collectibles. You should speak to a representative from your insurance company to discuss your current coverage.
Some companies will add a “rider” (itemizing the items) to the existing policy in order to provide increased coverage for your possessions.
If the appropriate changes can’t be made to an existing policy, there are “specialty” insurance companies/agencies that will provide adequate coverage for certain expensive items.
Check out this YourAAADaily article for advice. Here are some more collectibles insurance links:
- American Collectors Insurance
- Collect and Protect
- Collectibles Insurance Services
- Unland Insurance
Additionally, it’s a good idea to prepare a record of your inventory before meeting with the insurance company.
Maintaining The Condition Of Collectibles
Carefully decide where and how to display or store Collectibles to preserve their condition. The environment surrounding the item is a key factor affecting its preservation. They should be put in a safe place where they won’t get damaged, stolen, or exposed to mishaps.
|Some Quick Do and Don’t Tips|
|Keep away from direct sunlight|
keep in a dry place
keep in neutral climate
keep away from a child’s reach
keep in original unopened packaging
|Don’t place in direct sunlight|
Don’t place near water
Don’t place by a heater
Don’t place near a ledge
Don’t throw out original packaging
Don’t clean with chemicals
Direct sunlight will make them fade; too much heat makes them brittle or melt; water and dampness will make them mold; too close to ledges means they might fall or get knocked over; and being close to doors means they might get stolen.
What Are The Benefits Of Owning Collectibles?
There are many reasons people find it rewarding to own Collectibles:
- Financial stability because they can be sold later at a profit
- A sense of achievement when an entire collection is completed
- A sense of control or stability stemming from ownership
- The excitement from the thrill of the hunt
- The power of knowledge. Many take the time to learn about the origins of what they are collecting (even more “Collectibles Empowerment”).
Moreover, another benefit of collecting is the nostalgia associated with the items because they are tangible reminders of specific life events or other memories from our past.
Recalling those memories usually makes people feel good. Sometimes they can even make someone feel youthful again. This is particularly true with respect to entertainment collectibles.
Growing up we had a favorite character that made us feel cheerful because they were funny, safe because they were protectors, less alone because they were relatable, or ambitious because they inspired us.
According to some experts, Collectible memorabilia can even play an important role in helping Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients remember people, places, and events.
Collectible memorabilia can provide notable cues of things that happened in the past which gives them something to talk about. Having memories also helps them to feel independent.
Who Collects Collectibles?
People who collect Collectibles come from all walks of life all over the world. Some collect as a hobby and others collect professionally.
The word occupation literally means “line of work”. Hence, an occupational collector spends time collecting Collectibles as a profession. They collect Collectibles primarily for profit wanting to get a return on their investment.
An occupational collector has to think objectively when deciding what to collect. It’s not just about what they themselves think about a particular item.
Instead, their decision is primarily dependent upon the opinion of others. They must ask themselves how likely is it that someone else will want to buy the item when they are ready to sell it.
Occupational collectors thrive on Collectibles Empowerment.
As opposed to an occupational collector, for a collector hobbyist, deciding what item to collect is purely subjective. They collect items that have personal significance.
What matters to a collector hobbyist is that they like the item and what others think about it is of little importance. As an example, here is a list that specifies certain types of hobbyists and the various oddities they collect:
- Ambulist: collects walking sticks
- Arenophile: travels to different beaches to collect beach sand
- Brandophilist or Infulaphilist: collects cigar bands
- Brolliologist: collects umbrellas
- Digitabulist: collects thimbles
- Helixophilist: collects corkscrews
If you find these types of collectors amusing and for more Collectibles Empowerment, go to our YouTube Channel and check out the video about the “Top 20 Strangest Collections In the world”.
How To Find Collectibles
Once you possess Collectibles Empowerment, you can spot genuine Collectibles at garage sales, estate sales, liquidation houses, antique stores, thrift stores, flea markets, antique malls, auction houses, auction websites, memorabilia stores, and collectibles stores.
More Collectibles Empowerment Content
Knowledge is power. For further Collectibles Empowerment, here are some links to other “Collectibles Empowerment” content:
- Collectibles News Digest
- Beginners Guide To Smart Collecting
- Collecting Pastimes
- Antique Roadshow 10 Surprising Discoveries
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This concludes Collectibles Empowerment