Starting a Collection

I think it can safely be said that just about everyone collects something. There are basically two reasons to collect.

  1. Enjoyment
  2. Investment


If you collect for enjoyment, you like having the items around and the ‘hunt’ is fun with no particular considerations to condition or cost. However, if you choose to collect with the thought to investment and increased future value, then you should give some serious thought to the following . . .

What to Collect?

Decide what you want to collect. Selecting a general category of items to collect should be dictated not so much by ‘do I like it?‘ but rather ‘will it have future value?‘. Obviously if the two mesh, you have the perfect situation.

You may want to consider items that are easy to store, do not deteriorate with age, already have intrinsic value (i.e., gold and silver), or have a time proven track record, ie., First Edition books.

Educate Yourself

Once you know your direction, educate yourself. Know your product; know enough to able to easily make identification with particular emphasis on items that may be rare or have a higher value. Your local library should have a ‘collector’ section and is a good place to start becoming familiar with the characteristics of the item(s) you want to collect.

Budget permitting, purchase reference books specific to your field – both new and old. While new reference guides give a ‘current market value’, I’ve often found that the older reference books have information on older items that may be omitted in newer versions of the same book.

Know what original items should look like and watch out for fakes, replicas, etc. Take a small, battery-op black light with you when shopping. Depending on the item, you may be able to see cracks, the painting over of the original paint, etc. Always be vigilant about condition.

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Display or  Store Away?

Have in mind a way to either display or store your purchased items. Pieces prone to deterioration may need special storage away from direct light, pests, special storing procedure (acid free paper) or they may need to remain flat to keep their shape.

Budget Your Money

Unless you have lots of money to spend, set money aside as a – weekly or monthly – budget to have  funds ready when needed to add a new find to your collection.  

Add to the budget as your finances allow you to … then when you see a ‘good buy’ you’ll have the monies available.  Caution – never be tempted to over buy . . . doing this can quickly put you in a financial bind.

Record Keeping

Keep a good record of your purchases. An inventory of the item, date purchased, amount paid plus any provenance you may be able to get. If buying from individuals, ask about old photos, letters, notes, etc. that may give credibility and authenticity to the item.

Keep a photo journal of your purchases for insurance purposes. These photos (digital or photocopy) should be stored in a fire-proof safe or safety deposit box.

Final Thought 

When shopping to for your collection, always buy items in the best condition you can afford. Sometimes it’s better to wait until you have saved up enough money to buy mint condition for your collection rather than ‘settle’ for something of lesser quality. This is especially true if you have the choice of buying the item with the original box – or without the box. Having an original box can add as much as 15-20% to the overall value of the item.


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