A Guide To Collectibles For Hobbyists and Collectors

by Millie Kay G. on March 13, 2009

Are you in search of the perfect hobby? Some tips on how to start, grow and maintain a collection.

When it comes to collections, my home is a house of cards, so to speak: my family members and I have thousands of Magic: The Gathering trading cards. If you’re interested in collecting cards, coins, stamps, artwork, wine, antiques, or other objects, here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you start, build and grow your collection.

collectibles guide, hobbyists, collectors
Image by Misocrazy

A Guide To Collectibles For Hobbyists and Collectors

Are you a budding collector with a few questions? Check out our mini-FAQ on the topic of collectibles:

How did you start collecting?

It’s always interesting to find out how people get started with their collections. The stories are usually pretty fascinating! Here’s how I got started with mine:

My introduction to Magic: The Gathering came from a family member who gave me some cards. From there, my collection grew thanks to retail outlets like comic shops and even big box stores like Target. I’ve also used eBay to buy specific cards. At times, I’ve seen people trying to offload their collections through the classifieds and Craigslist. Fellow collectors sometimes sell off parts of their collection — so if you’re a collector, it’s a good idea to ask them to keep you in mind for the future. A few years ago, one generous person came by with a huge box of cards for me, knowing I’d put them to good use.

Also, a Star Wars fan once told me that he loves to scout garage and yard sales — parents who are cleaning out their empty nests can offer terrific bargains. In addition, I might try to check out local auctions, estate sales, and antique shops to see if anything useful for my collections come up for sale: it could be fun! I’ve also been to a few science fiction and comic conventions, where the dealers always have mesmerizing toys and memorabilia.

Do you have storage space?

I’m sure if we lined up all our cards from end to end and physics wasn’t a problem, they’d reach Jupiter. Fortunately, we have plenty of binders and boxes for the cards, and we have shelves, too. Organization is key. But if I wanted to collect something bigger, I’d have to figure out how to better organize my home to accommodate this.

Should you limit the size of your collection?

As far as my books go, I learned the other day that I need limits because they’re going to fall off the shelves if I add more. Twice a year, I usually sort through the books and donate or sell the ones I don’t enjoy anymore. I’ve also considered trading my stuff with someone who likes the same kind of books as I do. Having a system for recycling your beloved collectibles will keep your knick-knacks under control and your home clutter-free.

If you have a massive automobile collection like Jay Leno, you might need a bigger garage. 🙂

What work goes into maintaining the collection?

One of my relatives enjoys wine, so we keep buying bottles for him. However, I’m not really sure how I would maintain such a collection. If you’re a serious collector, magazines, books, or websites devoted to your hobby can be wonderful resources that can provide you guidance and additional enjoyment.

How do you network with other collectors?

For some people, collections are like grandkids — they want to brag about how much better theirs are than yours. For those of us who are less competitive, it can be fun to discuss our collections on blogs, at local meetings, or at conventions like the massive Comic-Con. Ask area vendors if they know of any collector communities and networks, or put your search engine to work.

Will your collection gain value over time and does it matter?

Okay, I admit to owning a handful of Beanie Babies that I picked up during the height of their popularity. However, unlike some of my friends, I didn’t justify the expense by saying they’d be uber-valuable someday. If you decide to view your collection as an investment, take a look at how the prices have risen or fallen over time.

Do your collectibles need extra insurance?

If you’ve put quite a bit of money into your collection, you might want to ask your insurance agent if it needs extra coverage. TheStreet.com has an interesting article about insuring art collections, but the advice can apply to other collectibles as well.

How do you authenticate your collection?

The insurance question will likely send me in search of an appraiser who can tell me the value and authenticity of my collections. If you’ve ever seen Antiques Roadshow, you know how exciting (or disappointing) this process can be. Tap your network of fellow collectors to find recommendations for an expert appraiser, ask your insurance agent, or seek out a journal, magazine, or book about your type of collection.

What do you do with your collection once you’re over it?

My comic book collection used to be ten times the size it is today. On the verge of a sudden move over a decade ago, I had to part with most of them fast, so I gave them to an acquaintance who might just be a millionaire now. Even though I’m not planning on splitting up with my comics again, I’d prefer to have a plan in place so I don’t lose money again. I now realize that I need to make a list of comic book shops, fellow collectors, and online retailers who might be interested in my collection in the future.

I’m kind of jealous of the potato chip lady’s collection, which is one-of-a-kind! In my case, I have enough yarn to start a huge ball, while my collection of action figures needs work! How about you, do you have a special collection?

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