What are the best collectibles to invest in?

Below is an interesting article from MSN on what one writer considers the top ten.  Seems to me they missed a few.  I was thinking in terms of civil war, books and WWII just a few.   What would be your suggestion?   Although, one has to feel sad for the couple that spent $100k on beanie babies.   The reservation I have with this MSN offering are they referencing the "entire" collection, the "one offs" of the collections or both.

I was also thinking one offs as in the top 5 from baseball cards as there are many one offs;

What also struck me is how much these articles provide "googles" or "bings" on best places to sell your collectibles online and just picked this one as an example;  http://www.examiner.com/article/auctionwally-s-list-of-the-best-places-to-sell-your-collectibles-online.   


A new era for collectibles

Hoping to get big money for your baseball cards and stamp collection? Think again. Those once-popular collector items are no longer in very high demand. Instead you might consider financial securities from pre-communist China, or perhaps railroad memorabilia? Collectors pay big for those kinds of items today, says Paul Fraser, owner of Paul Fraser Collectibles, which buys and sells rare items. Sales of collectibles are rising, up 15 percent last year on eBay to $2.7 billion, for example. Here's a look at some of the most lucrative kinds of collectibles, according to WhatSellsBest.com, a site that monitors millions of auction items worldwide.

Rare records

What makes one album worth a few dollars while others bring thousands of dollars? In the vinyl record world, it all comes down to availability -- or lack thereof.

In one recent example, a promotional record for the Beatles single "Love Me Do" sold for $10,974 on eBay.

The Beatles record had an unusual error: the misspelling of Paul McCartney's last name as "McArtney." Those kinds of rarities translate to higher value in the collecting world, says Scott Neuman, president of ForeverVinyl.com, a record appraiser in Toms River, N.J.

Similarly a 45 rpm single of the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man" with the original sleeve sold for $10,000. The sleeve, showing a controversial image of a man being beaten by police, was later replaced with a picture of the band.

Collectors also clamor over acetate records or a tester recordings made before a vinyl pressing. People might pay up to $70,000 for them, depending on the artist. Typically fewer than a dozen of the testers were pressed, mainly for band members, recording engineers or record company archives. "They're degradable and wear out over time, and pieces of them can chip off," says Neuman. "But the sound quality is amazing."

Action figures

Who would think that a $3 action figure bought in 1985 would sell for thousands of dollars today? That was the case for a 1985 Kenner action figure of Boba Fett, based on the animated "Star Wars: Droids" television show that lasted only one season. It sold for $10,200 on Ebay.

Those pricey sales of rare action figures from the "Star Wars" franchise are becoming more common. Values have soared in just the past six to eight months, says Brian Semling, owner of Brian's Toys, an online Star Wars toys and collectibles store. A big driver: Disney's $4.05 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm last fall, and fan anticipation of a new round of Star Wars movies.

"It has put new energy into the franchise," says Semling. Case in point: he recently sold a vintage Darth Vader action figure for $30,000 on eBay. With its telescoping light saber, it was the first version of the Darth Vader toy and one of only eight known in the world.

Toy mechanical bank

Made in the 1880s, mechanical banks were intended to teach children the importance of saving their coins. But 130 years later, the banks are driving far bigger financial decisions. This Strauss Little Jocko tin musical mechanical bank sold for a $10,781 on eBay in May.

Banks made from tin are fragile, so those still around and in great condition are a rare find. They can fetch up to $100,000, says Michael Bertoia, whose family business Bertoia Auctions specializes in mechanical banks.

Collectors pay even more for banks made from cast iron. Sturdier, they are usually more ornate and reflect a higher craftsmanship. They can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Rare railroad lantern

Sheriff Ron Krupa of Sedgwick County, Kan., regularly scours estate sales for old bottles and glass and pottery to add to his personal collections. Last spring, he stumbled upon an important find: a 15-inch tall railroad lantern. He thought it was neat and bought it for less than $100.

Immediately upon leaving the estate sale, a fellow shopper offered him $10,000 for it. He turned down the offer and contacted an appraiser, who told him it was an extremely rare, original Santa Fe Railroad lantern with an embossed Santa Fe Sapphire Globe. One of only seven known copies in the world, it had languished in a storage unit for 40 years.

When Krupa put the lantern on eBay, bidders drove up the price to $11,211. The winner turned out to be the same appraiser who told Krupa what he owned. "The lantern has become a legend in Wichita," says Krupa's wife, Anne.

Comic books

A vintage 1939 comic book recently sold for $13,000 on eBay. Why? It's known as the first issue from Adventure Comics that introduced the shape-shifting hero Sandman. For comic book collectors, the debut of well-known characters is often the most important indicator of a book's value.

A book with a debut of a character like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or even Dr. Octopus could be worth thousands of dollars, says Ben Marks, senior editor of CollectorsWeekly.com.

Think you have a gem hidden in your attic? Get a barometer on comic book values by perusing the "Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide," known as the bible of serious collectors.

19th century dolls

An antique French Jameau Doll, with original red fashion boots and sheepskin wig, recently received 28 bids and sold for $13,650 on eBay. That price is actually not all that impressive in the antique doll world, says Keith Kaonis, founder of Antique Doll Magazine. He's seen dolls that date back to the 1700s and 1800s sell for as much as $250,000. "My wife has a $30,000, very rare French doll and an American cloth doll worth $35,000," says Kaonis.

Many doll collectors today were children of the Depression who may have grown up with few toys, says Kaonis. "They collect to satisfy what their families couldn't afford to give them as children," he says.

Vintage bicycles

Bicycle enthusiast and engineer Joseph Olbermann sold a vintage 1897 bicycle made of hickory wood to an eBay buyer in May for $16,600. It wasn't easy for Olbermann to let the bike go. Admiring its engineering and design, he displayed it in his home like a work of art. He memorized facts about the man who built it, Maxwell Tonk, and his patented process of laminated steam-bent hickory. He even sought out and met Tonk's great-grandchildren.

Olbermann is not alone in his bicycle enthusiasm. You can pick up an old bikes for as little as $100, and vintage bike collector clubs abound. In Minnesota, for instance, one group even dons period clothing and rides 1880s-era bicycles on century rides, logging 100 miles a day. Even Mike Wolfe, star of the History Channel's "American Picker" TV show, began his career seeking out vintage bikes and flipping them for extra cash.

"Everybody has a story about how they got into it," says Tammy Haley, secretary of the Hoosier Antique and Classic Bicycle Club in Indiana. "Some people have a barn full of hundreds of vintage bicycles. Others collect the banana seat bikes they had when they were kids."

Antique coins

When it comes to old coins, a number of factors determine the value, including the mintage, or the number of copies issued of a particular coin, and the unique characteristics of a coin. For instance, the design might be highly regarded or controversial or the design might have a rare defect. And then there's the bullion value of the coin -- what the metal would be worth melted down, says Marks of CollectorsWeekly.com.

In one recent case, a bidder paid $16,878 for a San Francisco Morgan silver dollar, which had a total mint run of only 100,000 coins, making it highly sought-after by collectors.

Prints from emerging artists

Artwork has always been a popular category for collectors, and the goal is often to discover young artists who become more celebrated later in their career.

Such was the case with collector Paul Piggott, who paid $250 a decade ago for a signed art print by Banksy, a freehand graffiti artist. The picture, titled "Love is in the Air." found a home on the wall of his London flat for a decade.

During that time, celebrities began buying Bansky's original work. So when Piggott asked an appraiser how much the print was worth, the price blew him away: $12,000. He figured the money could help him and his fiancé buy a house, so he listed the print on eBay, where bidding rose to $22,441. The deal fell apart when the bidder failed to come up with the money, but Piggott was eventually able to sell the print to an art dealer for $15,859.

"When I bought the painting, I had no idea he would be as big of a deal as he is today," says Piggott. "Now I would say Bansky could be this generation's Warhol."

 Rare Chinese artifacts

It might surprise you to see that a set of 1937 Chinese bonds issued by the Chinese Republic Government was a top seller on eBay. The winning bid: $30,000.

There is huge interest among affluent Chinese buyers for artifacts from the decades before the 1960s Chinese cultural revolution, when communist leader Mao Zedong called for the removal of capitalist, traditional and cultural elements from the country. "Now a lot of people with a lot of money are looking to reclaim their lost cultural heritage," Marks says.

The buyers may be motivated by sentiment, but the deals make economic sense, too. These items, worth more in China than in the United States, can serve as an untraceable currency in an economy where bribes are often needed to do business.


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  • "How PIH validates the provenance you will have to ask them."

    I tried, No response :(

  • caveat emptor always applies.  The profiles in history is one and the same although this hendrix letter you question is not part of the Debbie Reynold's auction but was part of a rock n roll auction iin 2013.  A better fit would be your thread on hendrix.

    I suspect and it's only thinking outloud is the provenance from Debbie Reynolds is carrying the most weight as it did with the Ruby Red Slippers & Dorothy's dress which if i recall sold for lots of money like the chaplin bowler went for $110k and the Valintino Matador outfit went for $210k.  How PIH validates the provenance you will have to ask them.

  • Is that the same "Profiles in History" that auctioned this Hendrix letter?


    If so how do they go about gauging authenticity on items?

    I'd be willing to demonstrate why I feel the Hendrix Letter is a fake.

  • Here is an upcoming one from Debbie Reynold's collection that Profile in History is auctioning next week; Debbie Reynolds May 17-18th 2014

  • Here is one that ought to be interesting to watch from Heritage Auctions coming up in the April Auctions.  

    Beatles Signed (with Individual Drawings) Stage Wall Section from February 9, 1964, Appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, their National Introduction to American Fans. An approximately 16" x 48" section of a plastic or fiberglass moveable wall (called a hard wall traveler) that was used as a backdrop during the Beatles first live appearance on American television, a show that was watched by seventy-three million people, 86% of those watching TV that night. Long a hit in their native England and the rest of Europe, this was the night that the Fab Four captured the hearts, minds, and especially the ears of the "colonies." Just before they went onstage for their second set that night, where they performed both sides of the their smash Capitol single "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand," a stage hand named Jerry Gort asked them to sign the back of the moving wall used as a backdrop. He supplied the marking pen and they complied with his request leaving huge and bold signatures on the wall. Paul signed as "Uncle Paul McCartney". Each Beatle also drew a caricature by their autograph. John, Paul, and George signed first and, in order for all four to be in the same section of the wall, Gort had to lift Ringo (who was three inches shorter than the others) up by the waist to sign above the others' signatures and even had to hold the wall with his foot to keep it from moving before Ringo was finished. The drummer had to run to get to his drum kit before the performance started. Included with this lot is a copy of a letter from Gort in which he gives all the details of the signing. He also explains how the wall was ready to be sent to the dump at the end of the TV season but was saved and sent to a young handicapped Beatle fan. The full transcript is available on our website along with a photo of him and his family with Ed Sullivan. Another letter included with this lot is from Bill Bohnert, the art director and set designer at the Ed Sullivan Show who "...designed the sets for the Beatles first appearance in this country in 1964. His letter goes on to say: "Our stagehands asked the Beatles to autograph the back. Eventually, the hard wall was thrown out, but the portion with the autographs was saved." The full transcript of this letter is also available on our website.

    This prized piece of Beatles memorabilia hung for years at the popular Southdowns Lounge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The young Beatle fan named Loftin Sproles who had received it in 1964 fell upon some hard times in the mid-1980s and offered to sell it to Rodney Cary, the owner of the lounge. Cary, having just added a kitchen to Southdowns, wasn't sure he could come up with the cash to buy it, but when he and his three-person lunch staff dug into their saved tips, they managed to come up with the asking price. Cary set up a display in his lounge along busts of the Beatles and a script telling the story of the piece of this amazing hardwall traveler signed by the Fab Four. There it stayed until Cary found out how much it might be worth when he and his wife Laurie took it to Los Angeles for exhibit at a Beatles festival. After receiving offers in the six figure range, they took the signed wall piece back to Baton Rouge, placed it in a bank vault, and inserted a photographic replica into the lounge's display. In 2002, Cary decided to sell the signatures to a buyer from New Jersey who flew into Baton Rouge for the sole purpose of making the purchase. He won't reveal the selling price, but Cary did share a portion of the profits with the original owner.

  • problem with the shiny new card thought it by the time they are worth anything it will be the great great grand kids that will cash them in.  Let them brats earn their own way.  ;-)

    I'm just never ceased to be amazed what some have for disposable income.  Like this latest R&R auction (btw, I believe they have raised their MBs to 200 for most items)...  $98k for a record

    Although it seems signed Beatles are still in top demand;

  • If u have this type of disposable income then seems like a nice investment.  Hammer prices at the close (before buyer fees et all).  I might have thought the Sgt Peppers would have gone for more but still went for a hefty price in the January 2014 R&R auction;;

  • a couple of tidbits of what to and perhaps what not to invest;

    1.  the expose on the Magee T206 & Doyle card is well worth the read;   http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=27012#more-27012 fraud again is exposed.

    2.   While the beatles sgt. pepper's album may be unique it seems it's a distant second when compared to sketchleaf for Beethoven’s masterpiece, the Missa Solemnis—including the Gloria, Sanctus, and Benedictus in the latest R&R Auction with a few days of bidding to go.;

  • Firms that start up trying to compete on price alone have found it is a short trip to bankruptcy for just those reasons.

    PSA/DNA does a respectable job in a number of areas.  Where they don't is where there is opportunity.  The rules of business are straightforward and vicious.

    Speaking of investments... Seems someone is investing in some JFK items from R&R with the live bidding right around the corner;

  • New collectors come to the web every day seeking information, it may seem old or redundant for advance collectors but it will always be important that new ears get to hear both sides of the story. I applaud the efforts of the creator of this site. It can be a challenge, attempting to debate the High Priest, while confined to the edge of town with a mouth full of locusts. LOL! Quite likely to have your head served on a platter.
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