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What’s New In Collectibles

There have been a couple stories in the news the past few weeks that I wanted to touch on.  The first two stories are not about currency, but they definitely translate.

Beanie Baby Bankruptcy 
This was a sad story, but we can definitely learn a lesson here.  To summarize the article, a family in California spent $100,000 on beanie babies as an investment.  Needless to say, that didn’t work out well for the family.  So what can we learn?
1)  Don’t collect anything and think it is an investment.  Time has shown that a well assembled collection can often produce a nice return when it comes time to sell.  However, it is very difficult to build a meaningful collection over a short period and time and still make money when you sell it.
2)  If something is made to be collectible, odds are it will never be worth more than the original retail price.  I am talking about Hess trucks, hummels, pokemon cards, etc.  Yes, maybe .001% of these items will end up being collectible because of some oddity with their production.  However, anything that is mass-produced to be collectible will never be rare.
3)  Don’t buy when something is hot.  You don’t buy real estate when your great aunt starts flipping properties.  You don’t buy collectibles when everyone is talking about them.  We see antiques get hot and cold.  Buy when they are cold and sell when they are hot.
4)  If you only have $100,000 to spend on a collection, then you have to be really selective about what you buy.  Something worth $50 today is never going to be rare and it has very little upside.  Something worth $10,000 is already rare and could significantly increase in value.  Furthermore, if you are putting together a collection for the sole purpose of resale you want to buy as few items as possible.  It is easier to sell a ten note collection than it is to sell a 500 note collection.

Dale Chihuly Fakes
This is one of those stories that really makes you scratch your head.  First off, how did the seller think he was going to get away with this?  And more importantly, why did the buyer think he was able to buy Dale Chihuly glass at a 95% discount?  This story definitely translates to currency.  Don’t buy rare high grade bank notes on ebay and think that you are getting a good deal.  While you probably aren’t buying fakes, you are almost certainly buying over-graded and processed bank notes.

Brent Pogue Collection
And in case you didn’t see this, you need to check out the Brent Pogue collection.  You will rarely see such rare bank notes in such high grades.