Do collections really pay off?

The Essentials of Collecting

With collectibles, you often have to leave your emotions at the door, because you'll end up parting with your coveted goods. After all, the only way you're going to make money is to eventually sell them when the price is right. In other words, don't invest in anything you won't be able to part with in the long run.

Another important rule is to do your research. One sure way to snag valuable items at bargain prices is to buy from a seller who doesn't understand their value. If you think something is worth investing in, consult the right sources or experts to be sure you don't waste your money. One thing that helps you immediately assess a piece's value is condition. Most items need to be museum quality if you really want them to pay off [source: Rao]. According to Allan Cutrow, who specializes in estate planning for collectors, only 10 to 20 percent of the average collection is in mint condition. The rest is in average condition, which makes it much harder to sell [source: Rao].

If pieces of your collection are in mint condition, it's important to keep them that way. Comic books for example, should be stored in archiving bags and stacked vertically and away from direct sunlight [source:]. The Superman No. 1 sold for $1.5 million, but an exact Superman issue sold a year earlier for just $317,000 because its condition wasn't nearly as good [source: Censky]. Each collection should be cared for and stored in its own special way, so do some research before you make a mistake that could potentially decrease its value.

In addition to properly caring for your collection, you should also be sure everything you purchase is authenticated and insured. Work with a licensed authentication company to evaluate your collection and provide the proper certification. Companies like Global Authentics LLC and Professional Sports Authenticator provide authentication services. A simple Google search might help you find someone in your area, but make sure they have the right credentials. After you've obtained certificates of authenticity, have your collection appraised by at least two sources. Once you've determined the value, seek an expert's advice on insurance. You may be able to cover it under your homeowner's policy, but you might need an additional rider. Finally, photographing and documenting every piece and keeping copies of your paperwork in a safe deposit box is a smart back up in case of a fire or other disaster.

If you're diligent, you can make money investing in the right memorabilia. You just have to be willing to part with it when the time is right.

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