Should’ve Tried the Stock Market…
As a kid, there’s a good chance you invested in what you believed were collectibles. If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, you probably collected Trolls. If you are a 90s kid, you were likely into Beanie Babies. You probably had dreams of adult riches, shelling out your five dollar bills and dreaming of the day when your collection would soar in value, making you rich beyond compare. Ah, for the dreams of childhood. If you’ve priced your childhood collection recently, you know that your youthful expectations will never be fulfilled. Most Trolls are worth little more than what you paid for them (though there are a few exceptions, such as rare Dam vintage trolls, which can go for anywhere from $50-500). Beanie Babies are even more worthless; most of them aren’t even worth the price you paid for them in the first place.
Five More Collectibles That Are Little More than Trinkets
- Hummel Figures – These figurines were first produced in Germany in 1935 and were based on drawings by German nun Maria Innocentia Hummel. When American soldiers were in Germany during World War II, they began buying the figures for wives and sweethearts at home. Following the war, Germany was desperate for income and realized they had a captive market in the millions of American women who had been exposed to their statuettes. They began cranking out the figures by the thousands, selling them at dime stores for $4 to $5 a piece. In the 60s and 70s, they were sold at higher end stores, such as Hallmark and specialty boutiques, and their price tag increased, as well, with one actually selling for $1,500. Today, because of the mass production of the figurines, most of them are worth less than $50.
- Longaberger Baskets – These handmade baskets from Ohio reached great popularity in the 90s, due in part to Longaberger Basket parties in which they were sold (similar to Tupperware parties). Some of the baskets could be quite pricey, going for more than $100. Though the quality of the handmade baskets was quite nice, they never became the vintage commodity collectors hoped they would. Today, most go for $20 or less.
- Franklin Mint Collectibles – You’ve probably seen these commemorative coins and plates advertised on TV. You know, the kind emblazoned with celebrity faces and landmarks of the United States. But while these “collectibles” can go for several hundred dollars when new, they rarely fetch more than$50 on the secondary market.
- Thomas Kinkade Paintings – Unlike van Gogh, who only sold one painting in his lifetime, Kinkade reached his zenith in life. As a franchised painter (literally, there were 350 of his galleries in the mid ‘90s), his paintings had already plummeted in value when the Internet made them even more widely available. Today, according to Lou Kahn, head of Bakerstowne Collectibles appraisal service in West Hampstead, NY, “[T]he frames are worth more than the prints.”
Cookie Jars– After Andy Warhol’s famous cookie jar collection was auctioned off for millions of dollars after his death in 1987, cookie jars became a hot commodity in the collectible world. Today, however, the vast majority of cookie jars will never garner more than $50.
As someone who frequently does Fort Lauderdale estate appraisal, I constantly see people who believe their estate or that of their loved one will be worth more because of a large collection they have acquired. Occasionally, this is true. But all too often, the collectibles turn out to be items such as the ones mentioned above, with little to no actual worth.
So what lesson can be learned from all this? When it comes to collecting, if you legitimately like something, if having it around makes you happy, then that is worth enough. But if you are looking to make an investment, try something with more established value, such as fine art, antiques, or jewelry.