Contrary to popular belief, just because something is old does not make it valuable. A stone or rock in your back yard might be millions of years old, but it has absolutely zero value, unless of course it was Native American, Inca, or other highly collectible group.
And contrary to popular belief, items that are 50 years old are not necessarily “Old” in the world of Antiques & Collectibles. Actually, that would date them circa 1969. I was 18 in 1969 and, although I don’t consider myself “Young,”
I don’t consider myself “Old” either.
Many in my generation have held the mistaken belief that the older something became, the more valuable it would become. I can’t tell you how many people during the 1980’s-1990’s “invested” in select items, assuming that if they held them for just 15-25 years, they could then sell them at a nice profit. Guess what. Millions of others were thinking the same thing. And when they went to sell, they found that the market was flooded with similar items
Here are some common examples:
• Collector Plates: The Bradford Exchange, Danbury Mint, Lenox, and other companies sold millions of plates in the 1980‘s-1990’s with images of Shirley Temple, Norman Rockwell, John Wayne, Edna Hibel, The Wizard of Oz, and hundreds of other topics that appealed to my generation. The perception was that because they were “Limited Editions” and had a “Certificate of Authenticity”, we could hold them for 15-25 years, and then sell at a nice profit. Sadly, that never happened because our children had no interest in collecting what we collected. Once we had clients who had “invested” $21,000 in Collector Plates as part of their retirement portfolio. I had to explain that they would be lucky to get $500 for those plates in today’s market.
• Baseball Cards: Pre-1970’s Baseball Cards can still have considerable value. When I was a kid Topps was pretty much the only card manufacturer, and my generation ruined our cards using them on bicycles to create a motorcycle sound, or gambling with them playing “Topsies”, “Curbsies”, or other games that damaged the cards. But then in the 1980’s a huge number of card manufacturers got into the act, producing hundreds of millions of cards, and millions of dads started collecting and “investing” in these sports cards with their sons or daughters. They purchased complete and never-opened sets, expecting to sell them in 15-25 years for a nice profit. Unfortunately, millions of other dads were thinking the same thing, and today the market is flooded with way too many such cards. Not a good investment.
• Modern Dolls: If you’re fortunate enough to have a 1959 First Edition Barbie Doll, never-used, in mint & un-opened box, you have $5000-$10,000. But how many girls never played with their Barbies, or saved the original box? Practically none, hence the high price. But while dads were stashing baseball cards away, moms were guilty of stashing new dolls away. Barbie the Astronaut, Scuba-Diving Ken, Michael Jackson on Tour, etc. Buy them, never-open them, tuck them away in a closet, and them sell them for a nice profit in 15-25 years. That sounded good at the time, but these too turned into a poor investment.
The list of old-not-becoming-valuable collectibles is huge: Limited Edition Prints, Lenox China, Waterford Crystal, Wedgwood, Hummel Figurines, Swarovski Glass, Country Store Collectibles, Avon, Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Lunch Boxes, Railroad Insulators, Cut Glass, Lladro Figurines, Limoges, Nippon, and on-and-on-and-on.
WHAT’S IT WORTH: What can we say? Most of my generation was guilty of collecting something. My personal passion was Wallace Nutting and other Early 20th Century Hand-Colored Photographs. I loved it then, and I still do. But the younger generation isn’t interested in collecting much of what we loved. And until they become as “smart” as we were about in investing in collectibles, the market will probably remain soft. Is it possible that our children may turn out to be “smarter” than we were about collecting? We’ll see.
Mike Ivankovich is an Auctioneer, Appraiser, Home Downsizing Expert, and host of the "What's It Worth? Ask Mike the Appraiser" Radio Show. Now in its 5th year, “What’s It Worth” airs live in the Philadelphia PA area on Friday mornings from 9:30-10:30 AM EST on WBCB 1490 AM, and on the Internet at: www.WBCB1490.com. You can also visit his Radio Show Web Site: www.AskMikeTheAppraiser.com If your local station doesn’t carry “What’s It Worth” tell them they need to add it to their programing mix. If you know anyone who needs any Personal Property Appraisal work, or if you need a Speaker for an upcoming meeting or event, call Mike at (215)-264-4304, or visit: www.michaelivankovichappraisals.com.