As budding collectors they start to develop life skills early -- money management, how to take care of their treasures and it's not uncommon for a little bit of history lesson to be thrown in. Best of all they don't even realize they are learning so much!
You'll soon discover that kids can be drawn to all sorts of items, not necessarily just toys, comics and characters. Like an adult, it's not uncommon for a kid to be interested across the board and collect about anything, like Andy's keys or noted Christmas designer Larry Fraga who started collecting glass ornaments when he was seven years old! It doesn't matter what it is -- if they love it and it's not harmful (or too costly), let them make their own choices. Yes, they'll probably change directions a dozen times, but don't we all?
Here are tips to help your youngsters become collectors and hopefully one day share your passion.
No Mint in the Box
First and foremost: please don't make them keep the stuff Mint in the Box. What kind of fun is that? As a kid why bother to collect if you can't enjoy it, if you can't open it up, display it and play with it. I still don't keep things in the box, as I want to see the piece, not the box. It's pretty hard to get excited about a cardboard box.
Flea Market/Antique Shows
Start taking the youngsters when they are old enough to know they can't touch without permission, but be sure to encourage to look/touch items by asking permission. Give them a few dollars to hold and spend so they can make their own decision on what to buy.
I always gave my son some money when he went to the flea market with me. Instead of asking for "everything" he saw, he knew he only had so much to spend. He looked at everything, asked questions, negotiated prices and then made his final decision. Since most dealers are suckers for a cute kid that knows what he is looking at, he'll get a better price than you will!
This is a no-brainer. Kids are great at garage sales, they're shorter than you are and that means lower eye levels. They'll see that item below the tables or on the ground that you've missed, which is especially helpful when they look for your stuff too. But the idea is get them to find their stuff and garage sales are great for those little McDonald toys and character collectibles. As above, give them a few dollars that they can spend without asking every time they want something.
- Other Collectors
Ask other collectors to "share" their items with the kids by giving them a tour of the collection and allowing them to touch (carefully) and ask questions. One tin toy collector that sets up at a local toy show always lets the kids touch his toys and shows them how they work, as well as always giving them some background. The kids can't afford his toys but they sure love to look at them!
- Taking Care of Their Stuff
It's important for a young collector to learn how to take care of their stuff. It may not be Mint in the Box, but it still needs to be properly taken care of. The Internet is great for them to learn about keeping stuff out of direct sunlight, how to clean it, the best ways to store and display the treasures.
Make sure they have a place to either display or keep their stuff, it can be a small shelf or whole bookcase. I love to give the kids small tins as a great way to hold little collections and keep them together. Plus they are a collectible on their own.
Clubs and Associations
When the kids start getting interested in collecting a particular item, find out if a club exists for their new passion. Although a local organization would be best, many organizations are now online. Find out if they accept younger members and more about their shows and conventions.
Passing on Your Treasures
It would be nice to have your kids or grandkids interested in your collection, but that doesn't always happen. If they have expressed an interest, perhaps you can share some duplicates or extras. Beside the pleasure you get from sharing, wouldn't it be nice to know there is someone to pass your treasures onto, someone that will cherish them as much as you do? Even if the youngster isn't a family member, giving an extra or two is a great way to share your love with a budding collector.
Next: Free/Almost Free Collectible Suggestions