Collecting often starts with passion, driven by the joy of acquiring new items. However, the hope of future financial gain can be a misconception, especially for certain collectibles. Explore this article to learn the true value of your collections and determine whether it's time to declutter and reassess their significance.
Back in the 1990s, Beanie Babies were super popular. They hit an iconic level as a trend and some people even purchased them as an actual financial investment. Once their popularity fell off, the price of these cute stuffed animals plummeted.
While silverware and china sets passed down from one generation to the next may have a ton of sentimental value, the market value of these types of items as collectibles has steadily gone down over the years.
Many '90s kids experienced a Pog phase, with collections often valued for sentimental joy rather than monetary gain. If sold, collections might go for around $10, and individual Pogs for $1, often less than the cost of shipping.
Stamp collecting used to be big business, but not anymore. Nowadays, you may have a collection that is valued at a high price, but you will find there is no market for it. Specific stamps in mint condition still hold value, but in general, whole collections aren’t worth what they used to be.
Investing in a stack of new comic books isn't a prudent financial move; their value tends to diminish once you step out of the store. Unless they're rare from the 1930s-'50s, like Batman's debut in Detective Comics, which sold for a record $2.8 million, most modern comics lack significant resale potential.
Norman Rockwell Collector Plates
Renowned as one of the greatest American painters and illustrators, Norman Rockwell's iconic works adorned classics like Tom Sawyer. His Saturday Evening Post covers captivated readers for nearly five decades. Despite this, collector plates with his illustrations are better acquired for pleasure than investment. Valued at $10 each by Antique Trader, they've seen a decline from their earlier estimate of $50-75.
Contrary to the notion that vinyl records are obsolete, a "vinyl revival" is ongoing, with Sony Entertainment resuming production in 2017. However, the majority of contemporary vinyl lacks significant value, and only rare vintage records hold substantial worth.
While certain toys can be valuable, Pez dispensers, cherished by kids and collectors alike, generally don't fetch a fortune. Individual dispensers typically go for just a dollar or two, even limited editions like the Elvis Presley collection valued at a modest $9.20. Unless part of an extensive collection, their monetary worth remains relatively low.
Pandora necklaces and bracelets, popular since the early 2000s, soared in trend with layered designs and playful aesthetics. The value surged for rare charms discontinued over time, but investing in the entire Pandora Charms collection isn't worthwhile for potential returns.
Star Wars Toys
Vintage Star Wars toys from the 1970s, particularly obscure ones like "Yak Face" or "Joe Camel," have significant value, potentially fetching thousands. However, modern Star Wars toys, even baby Yodas, lack the same investment potential. Experts warn that mass-produced action figures from the '90s and '00s won't retain value.
Despite the potential fortune in rare mint misprints, don't be misled by wheat pennies with wheat stalk imprints. While they've appreciated in value, it's not substantial enough to justify the effort. Today, a wheat penny is typically worth only a few dollars, making it a less lucrative focus for coin enthusiasts.
Clothing items like t-shirts and sweatshirts lack significant value. Beyond nostalgia, there's little reason to keep them. Even on auction sites like eBay, you're unlikely to fetch more than $30 for a sweatshirt. Purchasing from a vintage store, while trendy, doesn't necessarily mean you found a lucrative deal.
Vintage pins, with their diverse variety, are enjoyable collectibles, rich in nostalgia and aesthetic appeal. Despite their fun nature, most pins, including special anniversary ones, typically don't exceed $5-$12 online.
Collecting license plates from various states, especially those with discontinued backgrounds, can be a pleasure for some enthusiasts. However, if you're aiming for monetary gain, the outlook is not promising. License plate collections, much like stamps, lack substantial value due to their widespread availability. Even a complete set of all 50 states is relatively common. On average, vintage license plates hold a value of around $30.
While many toys from the 1960s were likely well-used, a pristine 1964 first-edition Hess truck could fetch up to $2,500, according to Antiques Almanac. However, the likelihood of having such a rare find is slim, and most old toy trucks would sell for under $40. Despite a community of Hess collectors, the average toy is unlikely to hold substantial value.
Contrary to the typical posthumous surge in an artist's work, Thomas Kinkade, the "Painter of Light," faced a different fate. The sheer volume of his paintings rendered many essentially worthless. Following his 2012 death, The Guardian reported his work, present in one in twenty U.S. homes, could be found for under $20.
While many cherish playbills for sentimental reasons, their monetary value has dwindled significantly with the advent of the Internet. For instance, a 1964 "Funny Girl" playbill featuring Barbara Streisand, once valued at over $350, is now likely worth no more than $10 in today's market.
Salt And Pepper Shakers
Salt and pepper shakers, often collected for sentimental or decorative reasons, may not fetch much in the market, especially if they've been used. A recent eBay sale saw a unique set going for no more than $40, considerably less than their original purchase price. Collectors should be aware that the resale value of such items might not match their initial cost.
Once trendy, collecting porcelain or metal bells from places or events was a common practice. Despite people adding to their collections from travels, these bells often end up gathering dust. Today, you can easily find them online for just a few dollars, and their resale value is generally minimal. The once-popular hobby of collecting these bells has dwindled, with few enthusiasts remaining.
While Andy Warhol's cookie jar collection sold for a substantial sum in the late '80s, this isn't the case for the average person. Collecting cookie jars is a niche hobby, with limited enthusiasts willing to fill their homes with tin jars. Regardless of age, most cookie jars are typically available for just a few dollars, with some reaching up to fifty at most.
The British royal family, adored globally, prompts celebrations with events like weddings and jubilees, spawning a plethora of memorabilia. While keeping these items for sentimental value is common, mass-produced royal family souvenirs lack significant monetary worth. Unlike rare, limited-edition items, the bulk-produced memorabilia won't fund major expenses like college tuition.
Porcelain and ceramic dolls, cherished by collectors for their nostalgic charm, often occupy entire rooms in enthusiasts' homes. However, from a financial perspective, dedicating such space may be more profitable as a rental. With the exception of a few rare dolls, these reminders of the past typically hold little value, often not exceeding $10.
Model Train Sets
Despite the extensive hobbyist community and clubs devoted to model train sets, particularly the beloved Lionel collections, investing in them for resale value is often not worthwhile. While occasional rare items like the Howard Gondola may fetch decent payouts, the general market is flooded with vintage model train sets listed in good condition, typically selling for around $100, dispelling the notion of significant financial returns for most collectors.
Hummel figurines, once popular souvenirs, soared in value during the 1970s. However, today, they are deemed virtually unsellable, with Mike Rivkin of Antique Galleries suggesting thrift shops as there's little market demand.
Launched in 1998, Funko figurines, designed for collecting, attract enthusiasts with their adorable versions of movie and cartoon characters. Despite their popularity, collectors currently struggle to estimate the value of Funko figurines, given their relatively short history. Without established market trends, spending on these collectibles may not be a wise investment at this point.
Baseball cards evoke childhood nostalgia, representing a piece of America's favorite pastime. If they hold sentimental value, it's advisable to keep them, as selling won't yield significant financial gain. Even cards featuring star players, like the 1989 Ken Griffey Jr., may only be worth around $100.
Cabbage Patch Kids
Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were a fierce retail battleground in the late 1970s, often priced at around $30. Despite their popularity then, the majority of these dolls have little value today. Most have likely been played with over the years, diminishing their condition and making them unsuitable for a significant profit.
Since their founding in 1978, Precious Moments figurines, initially centered around an angel named Timmy, have been widely collected and gifted. Despite over a dozen collections and continued popularity, they aren't considered a promising investment. Mass-produced and widely available on platforms like eBay, these figurines, while nostalgic and sweet, lack significant resale value.
Playboy magazine, with its iconic history since 1953, featuring cover girls like Donna Michelle, Ursula Andress, and Darine Stern, can hold value for first editions or copies printed before 1970. However, for most issues, mass production limits their resale potential.
Since debuting in 1959, Barbie remains a popular cultural icon. A mint condition, original 1959 Barbie could fetch $25,000. However, most Barbie collections, given their mass production and availability, hold limited value. The majority listed on eBay typically sell for $10-20 in the box, making them a less lucrative investment for collectors.
Franklin Mint Dolls
While certain dolls, like the Lorraine Schwartz Barbie from 2010, can be worth a significant amount, it's a misconception that most dolls hold high value. Franklin Mint marketed their dolls as investments, but current listings around $200 may not reflect their actual value. These dolls are estimated to be worth $20-50, indicating that the promised payoff for holding onto them might not be as lucrative as initially suggested.
Even well-preserved Eagles or Queen tour shirts from the '70s may not fetch much, with some listed as low as $9.49 on eBay. Exceptionally rare and meaningful vintage band t-shirts may be valuable, but finding a high-paying buyer remains a challenge.
Despite the assumption that older film cameras may have value for nostalgic reasons, Daniel Kalter of Liln Square Pawnbrokers suggests otherwise. He notes that film cameras from the '70s and '80s often have little to no monetary worth. According to Kalter, people seeking such cameras are usually interested in parts, and he often has trays full of them collecting dust.
VHS And DVD Collections
While many people tend to keep outdated technology, like VHS and DVD collections, their overall resale value is generally low. The exception lies in highly specific collections that cater to niche collectors, but even then, the potential for significant profit is limited. In most cases, the monetary return on such collections is unlikely to be substantial.
Morgan Dollar Coins
Morgan dollars, popular in the late 19th century and again in the 1920s, were once considered valuable silver dollars. However, their widespread production limits their value, making them one of the most common silver dollars. While they may be worth more than their face value, their value is generally not higher than the silver content they contain.
Indian Head Pennies
Indian Head pennies, minted from 1859 to 1909 and designed by James Barton Longacre, gained popularity postwar. However, their value declined significantly as over 100 million were produced by 1907. In 1909, the design shifted to the Lincoln cent, created by Victor D. Brenner, marking the end of the Indian Head penny era.
Happy Meal Toys
McDonald's Happy Meal toys, given since the 1970s, can be valuable, but comprehensive collections are rare. To fetch a significant price, these toys must be in mint condition, in the packaging, and ideally with the original Happy Meal box, making the most desired ones challenging to find.
Classic Children's Books
While some parents might pay extra for a book from their childhood to read to their own, making money off children's books is unlikely for most. Rarity, like a first edition, is necessary for significant profit, which is rare. Most children's books are widely available, making them less likely to fetch high prices.
"Brown" furniture refers to dark-stained antique pieces like cabinets and bed frames. While historically significant items may be valuable, ordinary pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries lack substantial worth. The current market favors art deco and midcentury modern pieces, leading to a decline in value for traditional brown furniture.
While old newspapers offer a glimpse into the past, their value today is typically modest. Mass production and the prevalence of reproductions limit their worth. Authenticating older prints can be challenging. Property appraisers suggest that only first editions of iconic prints might hold significant value, cautioning against overestimating the worth of most newspapers.