Collectibles that once cost small fortunes can be found begging for pennies at flea markets such as the Chicagoland Flea Market in Rosemont, Ill.
Coins are often unfairly classified as collectibles.
Collectibles are made specifically to be collected. They have little to no utility. You take them home and put them on the shelf where they gather dust for decades. Or maybe you carefully store them in a climate-controlled dry place in their original boxes along with their all-important certificates of authenticity for decades. You hope, vainly in almost every case, that they will appreciate in value. Because if you were foolish enough to buy them in the first place, there surely must be a greater fool somewhere willing to pay more than you did.
Coins, on the other hand, are made to serve commerce. For most of the 2,500-plus years coins have been minted, they have had an intrinsic or metal value that approached or equaled their face value. While coins can be collected, to my mind they are not collectibles.
In the next few weeks I’m going to explore the world of collectibles, focusing on five heavily promoted products from the past 50 years, including one numismatic one. From an investment perspective, four of the five went bust. The fifth – the numismatic one – actually provided a fair return, but not for the reason promoters advanced all those years ago. If you’re middle-aged or better or have walked through a flea market or antique mall, you’ve probably seen them all and wondered why anyone ever thought those things would be worth anything at all.
Feel free to comment in the comments section with your guesses and experiences.
Next: It’s all beans