What Are Valuable Collector Items?
In this article, we will discuss the types of items people collect, what the term “valuable” means, how to determine the value of an item, how to spot an authentic collector item, how to maintain them, who collects them, and what a collection consists of.
Table of Contents
- 1 “Valuable” Collector Items
- 2 Determining The Value Of Collector Items
- 3 Collection Of Valuable Collector Items
- 4 Benefit Of Collecting Valuable Collector Items
- 5 Maintaining Valuable Collector Items
Valuable Collector Items
Collector Items (also referred to as “collectibles” or “collectables”) are objects with certain qualities or characteristics that someone considers interesting, memorable, meaningful, attractive, or valuable. The word “valuable” is key here. What one person considers valuable another person may not. For collecting hobbyists, an item is valuable if it is “of personal importance”. Alternatively, occupational collectors interpret “valuable” to mean monetarily important.
Collecting collectibles as a pastime is an activity someone performs regularly for fun or leisure. Collector hobbyists collect items for themselves. Items that they feel have personal significance. Their process of deciding if an item is collectible is purely subjective. As long as they like it, what anybody else thinks is of little importance. There even those who collect oddities. Examples of these types of collectors include:
- Ambulist: collects walking sticks
- Archtophilist: collects teddy bears
- Arenophile: travels to different beaches to collect beach sand
- Brandophilist or Infulaphilist: collects cigar bands
- Brolliologist: collects umbrellas
- Conchologists: collects animal shells
- Digitabulist: collects thimbles
- Fractatestaology: collects broken pottery pieces
- Helixophilist: collects corkscrews
- Labeorphilists: collects beer bottles
- Logogriphist Cruciverbalist: collects crossword puzzles
If you find these types of collectors interesting, go to our YouTube Channel and check out this video about the “Top 20 Strangest Collections In the world”. Take a look at our Collectibles Videos.
The word occupation literally means “a line of work”. Accordingly, an occupational collector spends time collecting as a profession. They collect Valuable Collector Items primarily for profit hoping they will get a return on their investment. As opposed to a hobbyist collector, the types of items an occupational collector chooses to collect is not just about what they themselves think, but instead 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. Therefore, their decision process is an objective one.
Determining The Value Of Valuable Collector Items
There are several things that can be done to determine the monetary value of an item. Firstly, you can have items appraised by a professional. Secondly, you can appraise the item yourself.
Get Valuable Collector Items Professionally Appraised
Professional appraisers are accredited experts with ethical standards who are paid to analyze a person’s tangible 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 coursework, they are tested for certification by an appraisal association. Some even have degrees in Art History, Art & Design, or other similar areas of study.
Additionally, an appraiser must accumulate a certain number of hours doing hands-on training as an apprentice in a variety of fields such as auctions, art galleries, banking, estate liquidation, insurance, jewelry, legal services, museums, antique dealers, or antique associations.
Furthermore, 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, conducting research. After thoroughly analyzing an item, an appraiser provides a written report with a detailed description of the item, the item’s Fair-market value (what a buyer would pay you), the items’ replacement value(what it would cost today at retail), and the procedures used to establish that value amount.
Appraisers usually charge a flat fee or an hourly rate (about $200 to $400 depending on their expertise). They SHOULD NOT, however, ask for a fee based on a percentage of the item’s value. Moreover, it’s a violation of professional ethics to offer to buy the item they have appraised.
To find a qualified professional appraiser, check with the Appraisers Association of America (a nonprofit organization established in 1949), the International Society of Appraisers (Founded in 1979), and the American Society of Appraisers (established in 1952). Or you can use online expert appraisers such as WorthPoint (around $30 per appraisal) or Value My Stuff (around $10 per appraisal).
Do Your Own Appraisal of Valuable Collector Items
You can evaluate the item yourself to get an approximate appraisal value. As a starting point, do some comparison shopping. Visit stores and auction houses that sell, or have sold, the same or similar items to check their prices. Also, speak with the owners to get an understanding of consumer interest in the item and how well it sells. Next, do some research on the internet. Check price guides and auction websites to see what date and for what amount an identical or similar items sold for. Moreover, ask yourself these questions:
- Is it of sentimental importance? For some, an item that sparks certain emotions or fond memories is considered very valuable, and therefore “priceless”.
- What is the copyright year? This is when the item was made. The older it is, the more valuable it is. Items made 100 years ago are considered antiques.
- Is it rare or retired? Meaning is the item still in circulation and/or is it still being distributed? If the item is it no longer available, it is considered “hard-to-find”, thus it’s more valuable.
- What is the production quantity? Evaluate 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. Also, the lower edition numbers (i.e. 22/1200) and the higher edition numbers (i.e. 1160/1200) are more valuable than the middle numbers (i.e. 714/1200). For books, the first edition is more valuable than the 10th copy. Additionally, limited-editions usually come with a corresponding certificate known as a Certificate of Authenticity (or “COA”) which specifies the editions number.
- Is it a popular item? How well-known or famous is the property (brand name) featured on the item? The more famous a brand/trademark owner is, the higher the value. However, the public’s interest in an item can change based on several factors including social trends, media exposure, environmental impacts, and related newsworthy events.Take lava lamps for example. They were a big hit from the 1960s through most of the 70s. By the end of 1979 however, interest in the lamps had died down. Then, with the release of the Austin Powers Movie “Spy Who Shagged Me”, and the television series “That 70’s Show”, lava lamps got their groove back. In 2000 the U.S. supplier, Mathmos, sold over 800,000 units of lava lamps.
- How reputable is the distributor/manufacturer? Companies who have been around for a long time are more experienced and well-known for their craft which makes the item worth more (i.e. pewter items made by Rawcliffe Pewter Company).
- Is the creator dead or alive? Typically, if the creator/artist has passed away, the item usually increases in value.
- What is its cultural significance? Items that have aesthetically, scientifically, socially or spiritually had an impact on past or present generations are more valuable.
- What is its historical significance? Items relating to selected events, people, and developments from the past are more valuable.
- Is the item genuine? Determine if the item is “real” (authentic) or “fake” (counterfeit). Check for where it was made, take a close look at the logo design, the spelling used on the label, and the colors used (i.e. Coca-Cola uses only one specific red color; Tweety is a specific canary yellow). Also, check the bottom of the item for other identifying marks or signatures.
- Is it different? Does the item look different in any way 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 items are typically priced higher than regular/standard releases.
- Is it autographed? A signature on the item always increases its value.
- What is its quality? This depends on craftsmanship. Take a close look at the workmanship (i.e. the stitching, fastening, and welding). Examine the type of materials used, the technique, and the level of skill involved (i.e. attention to detail). Handmade is worth more than factory-made. Additionally, an item that is skillfully crafted is more durable and lasts longer. Examine the craftsmanship. What type of materials were used? Is it missing pieces or parts? High-quality items, such as officially licensed products that have to pass strict quality control standards, are priced higher.
- What is its condition? Don’t confuse this with “quality”. Quality is how well an item was initially made. Alternatively, “condition” is how an item has aged. First, check the mechanics (i.e. does it still work; is the cord still intact). Secondly, see if there any parts/pieces missing. Thirdly, Examine its physical appearance. Is the paint original, is it chipped, scratched, or faded? Fourthly, find out if it is still in the original packaging and determine the condition of the packaging? The better the item’s condition (and its packaging), the higher the value. Please note, however, that with respect to certain antiques (mainly furniture), cleaning or restoration may decrease the value.Collectors usually convey an item’s condition based on a grading system specific to its category (.i.e. coins have their own grading system). However, there are some general terms that can be applied to items in every industry. They 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): slightly less than perfect; used but looks new.
- 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.
Collection Of Valuable Collector Items
Some collectors strive to acquire every item that belongs to a specific collection. They usually look for Valuable Collector Items that are unique unto themselves yet of the same type (i.e. Pez Pirate, Pez Doctor, Pez Astronaut).
Accumulating, sorting, and grouping the items based on their common denominator is referred to as a collection. Another example is an art collector who acquires paintings. Although every painting is different, art can still be sorted and grouped by the artist (i.e. Picasso), the materials used (i.e. oil paint), the concept/subject matter ( i.e. naked ladies), or the period in history (i.e. romanticism). Another example is a stamp collector who might sort/group the items into types according to country, holiday, persons of interest (i.e. celebrities or presidents), issue date, or monetary value.
Benefit Of Collecting Valuable Collector Items
When asking the question “why collect?”, both collector hobbyists and occupational collectors do it for the reward. They collect Valuable Collector Items, whether consciously or subconsciously, because of the ultimate financial, mental, or emotional benefits. A serious long-term collector might say the reward is the eventual monetary bonus.
Alternatively, for some the reward is knowledge. They devote themselves to learn about and understand, the origins of particular types of items. And for others, the reward is a positive feeling. A strong sense of achievement after finally completing an entire collection; a sense of control or stability stemming from ownership; excitement from the thrill of the collectible hunt.
Another benefit of collecting collectibles is the nostalgia associated with it. Some collectors acquire specific items because they represent a specific life event or other memory from their past. Recalling those memories makes them feel good. Sometimes the nostalgia can even make them feel youthful again. This is particularly true with entertainment collectibles. Entertainment collectibles are items based on movies, television, cartoon and comic book themes.
Most of us growing up had a favorite character that made us feel a certain way. Cheerful because they made us laugh; safe because they were protectors; less alone because they were relatable; or ambitious because they inspired us. Collectible memorabilia are tangible reminders of those feelings. According to experts memorabilia even plays an important role in helping Alzheimer’s patients remember people, places, and events.
Maintaining Valuable Collector Items
Once Valuable Collector Items are acquired, it is important to maintain their condition so that they keep and increase their value. Items should be stored in a safe place where they won’t get stolen, broken, or water damaged. There are companies that make protective materials specifically for safely storing and maintaining collectibles. To assist you in your collecting collectibles efforts, we’ve provided some helpful links below.
- Beginners Guide To Smart Collecting
- Organize with Collectibles Inventory Software
- Collection Database Software
- Collection Protection with Bags Unlimited
- Collecting Pastimes
- Antique Roadshow 10 Surprising Discoveries
We hope you found this article interesting. Now that you know more about Valuable Collector Items you are ready to get a collection of your own going. Start by visiting our collectible shopping page.
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