Anybody can buy “collectible” items to display on a shelf.
You see ads for them all the time: “Hand painted!” “Limited edition!” “Design of enduring value!”
But will they hold their value?
They may. Then again, they may not.
One good example is the Cabbage Patch dolls.
Beginning in 1981, they were purposely designed by Coleco to be “collectible,” so people bought them up (actually, people fought each other to buy them up).
As a result, there are a gazillion dolls out there, all in mint condition in their original boxes.
Only those made under the Xavier Roberts name – before the collecting craze began – are worth anything at all.
There’s a good reason for that.
Xavier Roberts designed his dolls to be enjoyed by children.
Virtually all antiques and vintage items were created to be used, not collected.
There was a time when juice was served in brilliant, hand-cut glasses. When the table was cleaned with hand painted tole ware crumb catchers and tossed into a hand painted tole ware wastebasket. When the family walked to the neighborhood street fair and came home with prizes (or “fairings”) for dunking the clown or winning the coin toss. And there was a time when mayonnaise was served in lovely lusterware condiment sets, complete with spoon.
Through the decades, many of these items were broken and tossed away.
The survivors have become scarce in a natural and genuine manner – they’re collectible precisely because they were once loved, treasured, used, saved – and passed on to the next generation.
But price isn’t the only way to measure returns on investments.
The true value of last century’s things is in their stories, their histories, their pure and genuine charm. Since these things cannot be measured in dollars, pounds or francs, it guarantees that an investment in antiques will always have a positive return.
If you love learning about antiques as much as I do, follow the blog so you won’t miss the next article.
And enjoy the hunt!