But sometimes collecting is a conscious decision. It might be when you want something to remember vacation trips, want to decorate your house with a personal touch or decide to look for fun stuff when shopping.
In either case, even though you should always collect with your heart, you can still collect smart!
Ask a collector and you'll get an in-depth answer on the feelings that are evoked, the investment made or the quest to find their stuff. Although collectors hope their collections will increase in value, that's usually not the reason they started collecting.
Both answers are right.
2. What to Collect?No one can tell you what to collect, but it should always be something you're drawn to and love looking at. It's that first thing you pick up at the flea market or what catches your eye at the gift shops each time you see it.
It doesn't always have to be a particular item, many collect by color or shape. Love the color cobalt blue? You could have a terrific collection of bottles, vases, boxes all in that one color. Perhaps you love the holidays? Another fun collection would be decorative items for the different holidays. Shamrocks for St. Patricks Day, heart stuff for Valentine's Day.
If you still want to make big bucks, think Beanie Babies! Do you remember all the people buying up the Beanie Babies for a future college fund? Except for the very limited and early pieces, they're not paying for anyone's education. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't surround yourself with the little guys. Like them? Buy them!
Before getting excited that an item is a limited edition, find out more about the edition size and how the company released the pieces. Also check previous editions from the same manufacturer to see if they sold out and/or retain their values.
5. Condition, Condition, ConditionBuy the very best example you can find. A piece of pottery with a hairline crack or a glass plate with a chip should be substantially less than "book value" and will not appreciate in value the way that perfect piece might. Even if you're not buying for investment, when it's time to sell your stuff, it's a lot harder if the collection is chipped and cracked.
Problems to beware of, depending on the collectible, include: rust, chips, cracks, missing pieces, tears, fading and stains.
Newer collectors often feel an item can be repaired or a part replaced, unfortunately that's not an easy task.
6. Keep the BoxesI love to take stuff out of the boxes as soon as I get it and hate to keep the boxes, but that's foolish. If your collection is the newer stuff that comes in special boxes, it's always more valuable with those darn boxes. The same is true with vintage stuff, the item will always be worth more with the original box.
Also be sure to keep those boxes in excellent condition, a dented box will also de-value the item.
This also brings up the question, should you keep an item MIP? It depends, do you want the display to look like a store shelf? If you can afford it, buy two. One to keep MIP and one to display.
Find the company web site and see what they say about taking the proper care of their stuff. Company web sites are great resources and usually have lots of good tips to share with their collector base.
Don't buy a book primarily for the price information, buy it to find out more about possible reproductions, company history, marks to look for, etc. Another good purchase is a general price guide that is handy to find out more about other stuff you might run across in your travels. One of my favorites are books from Judith Miller with terrific pictures and collecting hints.
9. Join a ClubYou may not be a joiner, but a club or association is an excellent source of information. If you collect new stuff, a company sponsored club will usually offer editions limited to club members, as well as keeping members informed of upcoming new releases.
If you collect vintage items, the conventions, newsletters and forums that clubs sponsor are invaluable as a way of keeping informed about your collection and the history of it.
10. Get Out and ShopVisit the local swap meets, shows, antique shops, wherever your stuff might show up. Even if you're not ready to purchase yet, learn more about the pieces by touching and feeling, by checking out marks, etc. It's the best way of becoming an informed collector and if the item shows up "cheap" on eBay, you'll be ready to pounce.
Don't buy online yet? Check out eBay and other online resources. Bargains can be found, but even more important those hard to find items will eventually show up and by adding a favorite search to your My eBay page, notification will be sent when it's up for sale.