Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

November 6, 2012

What’s in the Attic?

Collectible or clever advertising?

Linda Hamer Kennett
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — At a recent lunch with a group of my dealer/appraiser friends I posed the question, “how would you define a collectible?”

There was total silence; something highly unusual for this group. Then one brave soul ventured the comment, “Something you just have to have, and when you get it you just have to have more.”

The need to acquire and the joy of surrounding ourselves with things we love are most definitely elements of collecting. The problem arises when people collect with the intent of seeing their collections increase in value. While some collectibles grow in value, be warned that many do not. This is especially true of “modern collectibles.”

Avon bottle are perhaps the most common of all “collectibles” that we come across as we assist clients with the liquidation of an estate. It is a common myth that Avon bottles are of value. The simple fact is, they are not. Most auctions will not take them, and if they do they bring $5 to $6 for a box of a dozen. Set them out at a garage sale for 50 cents apiece and you may sell a few. Or try your luck on eBay, but be warned. A recent search of this popular online auction revealed that of 200 pieces listed in the last two weeks, only eleven sold. The average price: $3!

For many years the Franklin Mint has issued, what they advertise as, “collector’s plates”. Everything from Norman Rockwell scenes to a tribute to Princes Diana have been sold to would-be collectors in the $20 to $45 range. Many of those who purchased these plates are now finding that in most cases they are very difficult to sell. The one exception that I found was the F.M. Heirloom recommendation garden of Jewels Plate which has recently sold in the $50 to $70 range {original price $200}. As for the other plates floating around out there, the average realized price seems to fall in the $2 to $5 range.

Dolls have brought joy to collectors of all ages for many decades. In this field of collecting, it is important to remember that dolls can take a very long time to increase in value. I come across large collections of “modern dolls”, such as 1970’s Madame Alexander’s, 1980’s Barbies {especially the Holiday Barbies} and American Girl Dolls from the 1990’s that have been bought and stored for investment purposes. Sadly most of them are now worth half of their original price. Exceptions to this rule are the high quality dolls from Himstedt, Kish and which in some cases will increase in value a few years after purchase.

If you are a novice in the field of coin collecting, it is easy to be misled. Avoid the fancy boxed sets and commemorative coins offered on the TV shopping networks and magazine ads. While they look attractive, they are commonly made from low grade metals. Premium “collectibles mints” such as, The Bradford Exchange and Franklin Mint do sell genuine bullion coins, but they usually have no after market value with investors and collectors.

It is the opinion of many experts that the best type of investment coins are rare US “key date” coins in the best grade you can afford. Bullion coins are also recommended. The market for precious metals may rise and fall, but in the longterm, sliver gold and copper are most always a good investment.

If you approach collecting as a form of entertainment and enjoyment you will never go wrong.

If you plan to collect for investment purposes, beware, be informed and avoid new merchandise advertised as “collectible.” Still in doubt? Then I just have two final words for you: “Beanie Babies!”

Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidator specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-429-7887 or lkennett@indy.rr.com.