Does your son love to sit and read graphic novels (what the older generation affectionately refers to as “comic books”)? Will your husband sit for hours on end flipping through baseball cards he has had since his childhood? When your daughter goes to bed each night, do you need to allow an extra 15 minutes just to relocate the teddy bears and stuffed animals from her bed? If any of this sounds familiar, the makings of a collection may be in place.
Collecting is a fun, easily financed hobby that either individual members of your family or the entire family as a unit can enjoy. From more mainstream collectibles such as coins, stamps, comic books, baseball cards, and dolls to more unique items such as first edition books, collections centering around an athlete, celebrity, or entertainer, clocks, glassware, or tin toysthe list goes on and on.
For many, it is the “treasure hunting” aspect of collecting that ultimately draws them into the hobby. There are few things more satisfying than browsing through “junk” and finding a hidden gem that everyone else has passed by. The satisfaction only increases if you are able to buy the item for next to nothing because only you know its true worth. It is the process of developing a collection and looking for those all-important, elusive items that are in short supply that lies at the heart of collecting.
Starting a collection is simple and often happens naturally as a person’s interest in a certain item become evident over time. Chances are you can see a collection developing just by looking at your child’s room. Initially, a few favorite items are strategically placed around a bedroom. Soon, the quantity has grown to occupy a full shelf, which in turn grows to fill a curio cabinet.
Introducing your family to collecting is easy and a few tips may help you hit the ground running:
- Allow yourself and your family members a “hobby budget” each month. Examine your total household budget and set aside what you can afford for each family member’s collecting activities. Don’t worry that some members of your family are collecting things that are higher priced than others. The person with the more expensive interests simply needs to learn that saving and accumulating that monthly budget is going to be an integral part of their hobby in order to obtain those “must-have” items that will round-out their collection.
- Collect the things you love. If you stick to those items, you will seldom suffer from “buyer’s remorse” after a purchase. If you buy things based on the anticipation they will appreciate in value over time, you will more than likely be disappointed. Remember, not all collections have monetary valuemany simply develop from an intense interest or fascination with an item or subject.
- Allow others in your family (your spouse and children) to collect what they love. Refrain from passing judgment or being dismissive about someone else’s interests. Not everyone is going to have the same appreciation for another person’s collection. While some are enthusiastic over comic books (graphic novels), coins, or stamps, others find an interest that is much more obscurebut no less worthy.
- Collectibles can be new, old, or very old. Collecting antiques is a hobby unto itself for many people. While new items, such as a particular toy line developed in conjunction with a little science fiction movie about a “…galaxy far, far, away…” can explode in popularity and escalate tremendously in value over time.
- Educate yourself about your collectible of choice. Read books and perform research. The accumulated information will help you immensely when making decisions on whether or not to purchase and how much to negotiate paying for items you would like to add to your collection.
- Keep any and all packaging that comes with the items you collect. When possible (especially with new items), purchase two. Keep one sample unopened (in what is referred to as MIB [mint, in-box] condition). The second sample can be displayed, played with, and enjoyed. In later years (if your collection appreciates in value), you will still have the pristine example capable of fetching the highest possible price.
- A common statement heard among collectors is “if you want it, buy itright now!” Even walking away from an item to deliberate the purchase for a few minutes can bring disappointment when you return to find that someone else wasted no time in making his or her purchase decision. Remember, you may not be presented with the opportunity again.
- Look to antique stores, flea markets, consignment shops, and newspaper want adsall are potential sources for items to add to your collection.
- The Internet is a great source of information on almost any collectible. You will find books, magazines, and entire websites devoted to very specific subject areas. You may also find bulletin boards and user groups for people who share your interest in porcelain teapots or hand-tied fishing lures. If you don’t find what you are seeking, start a website of your own. Chances are there are other people in the world just waiting to find someone else who shares their interest.
One word of caution: Be sure to supervise your children in their Internet activities, even when it concerns their collection. Keep an open dialog with them so they feel comfortable in sharing information about what they are finding online and with whom they are communicating. As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
- The Internet is also a wonderful source for finding and obtaining unique, rare, and geographically specialized items that you may want to add to your collection. Prior to the Internet, people were limited by geography and their budget. You can only drive to so many antique shops and flea markets in a weekend and have them end in fruitless searches. Today, on-line auction services make simple work of finding that special Maxfield Parrish print from the 1930s and, even though it may be on the opposite coast, it can be in the mail and on your doorstep the next day with overnight shipping.
- Knowing your family member’s collecting interests also helps immensely when choosing gifts for holidays and birthdays. Finding those special items and presenting them as gifts shows your thoughtfulness and caring on a totally different level.
Above all, have fun! Collecting is a rewarding hobby that can be enjoyed over a lifetime. So gather your family together and let everyone know, the hunt is on!
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