Collection or Investment?

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Many of us have collections that perhaps were started decades ago and simply grew because of an increased interest or from gifts received from others. Even if you have never started a collection, no doubt you have a friend that has and you have watched that collection blossom and grow over the years. One friend absolutely loves cows and anything that has a picture of a cow on it. She has milk pitchers, dishtowels, plates, a cookie jar and numerous items around her kitchen with this theme. Another friend likes chickens and another one likes frogs, which end up including tiny figurines on shelves or in a china cabinet to store these items of all sizes. Years ago I had a spoon collection where I bought one from each place we went on vacation, whether it was stateside or overseas. The spoons were mounted on my kitchen wall on a specially made wooden rack to store the collection. However, here is what happened after the rack was mounted. Friends that saw my collection when they visited thought I wanted to add to it and began buying me a small souvenir spoon from their vacation trips. I had so many spoons I had to buy two more holders to display them! Then I thought to myself, why am I collecting spoons that other people visited that location? To end the gift giving my well meaning friends started, we removed the racks and packed away my collection, storing in the attic, never to be seen again.

Perhaps you have an elderly parent, aunt or uncle that has gifted you with their collection and you don’t know what to do with it. Maybe the person collected coins or stamps and while it was something they loved and had an interest in, you don’t share that passion. Before you just toss that stamp or old postcard collection do a little research about the items. Don’t be tempted to sell it for a few dollars at a tag sale just to clear out a full closet. Hopefully the person that left you a coin, stamp or other collection recorded some vital information about it. It is important to know what was paid for each part of the collection, when it was bought and a little history about the item. One friend collected model railroad trains and the collection had full sets and engines dating back from the 1940’s. He also had hobby magazines, several decades old, detailing the history of each engine in the set. If you have ever watched Antique Road Show and have seen things people inherited, many have no idea of the value. It is amazing to discover the item is worth several thousands of dollars. That small vase, painting or odd looking lamp may provide a happy surprise of its value, when you do a bit of research. On another note, if you are the one collecting and you have come to the point that you want to uncluttered your life, think about selling the items now, while you are the one that knows its value. The internet is a perfect place to start to see the value the item is fetching now and who best to know the condition, history and what was paid than the original owner.