Saturday 31 January 2009

Toying With Investments

Rare toys is a rarefied world in more than one sense. Prices for the good stuff are holding up well for the most part which is against the principles of the credit crunch which holds that any available draw bridge should be nailed up tight and we should all dive below the duvet where any form of monetary investment is concerned.

In many cases it starts off with a little bit of spare money and a desire to undo the perceived wrongs of childhood when you pocket money would not stretch to the latest seen desirable Corgi toy, Dinky toy, Action Man , Tracey Island, Barbie Doll, Tri-ang kitchen, dolls’ house equipment or whatever depending on your agenda and gender, chronology and wallet. At the same time there were the odd incidents of misjustice when an occasionally seen Aunt presented you with an Annual for Christmas which would have been fine a year ago but sadly misses the required standard for this year.  ‘Eamon Andrews’ Compendium of Games’  was one of mine which will show you what vintage I am, if you are older and can remember him as a rising TV star.  

Before you take the ladder up to the loft to rescue those battered diecast toys and annuals there are some things to know. See an advert or a description of some sort which describes something as ‘A Collectors’ Item ‘ and you can be sure that it is not.  Even ‘Limited Edition’ is a warning in that if it really is a treasured piece then most of them will survive unopened in their original packaging, unused and unplayed with. Often the real value is in the ones that were everyday and for one reason or another survived relatively unscathed when all their fellow editions got chewed, chipped and  chucked out.

By all means reconstruct your childhood dreams with a collection of Rupert, Beano, Noddy and other annuals. Feel no shame in reading them with a warm air of recognition about you. Some read them to the Grandchildren, but it is the same really.  Collect a few of the Matchbox toys you never got round to buying or that were given away to cousins when you didn’t notice. Stray from toys to other collectable material. Vinyl records for example.

For an Investment though you must mix your nostalgia with some common sense. Take a couple of issues of the magazines that deal with your interest. There are plenty and there will be something for most of us, usually grouped together on the shelves. Look for the Toy fairs locally and go along to get the feel and note the prices while keeping your hands in your pockets until you are familiar with your subject. There are books and catalogue listings for many collectable things if you seek them out.  Study the remarkable effect that the original disposable packaging has on the value if it is still in good condition.

Once you have an understanding of your subject material understand how the Market works. Any dealer will have paid less than half what he is asking. That is because he has the overheads eating into his profits just as with any other business proposition. The travel, the table fees, the fruitless journeys to view worthless collections, the rubbish he has bought to get the item that he spotted that was actually worth something. It is not all plain sailing. If you are selling to a dealer understand these things and adjust your expectations.

Accept that you can’t get all of it/them all at once. If the price is wrong you may need to walk away and watch for the next one to come along.  Accept that it is a long term investment. The only way you will recoup is to become a dealer yourself with all the fun and attendant hassle involved. Otherwise you could sell through a specialised auction house. By the time you become expert you will know who they are. I always admired the likes of Elton John who collected die cast toys I believe, as well as many other things. Eventually he gathered it all together and sold it at auction. Consider for a moment that he could have bought anything he wanted but of course, with that collection he could not. He could only buy what he could find.  

Whether you become an expert in Coins or Teddy Bears the principles are the same. These days a fantastic resource is available to you on line. There you have the auction sites operating continuously and you only have to tap in a search on some obscure reference to see what is available.  Again take time to understand how that market works. Place a ‘watch’  on a few interesting items and see what happens and how the punters play it. 
If you really do have valuable items look at the insurance.  Educate your family so they understand what you have and don’t give it away. And for goodness sake understand that ‘Collectible’ is spelled that way (with an ‘i’) because of the Americans, copyright reasons, or sheer ignorance.

Bob Shepherd Associates has many different interests and expertise available. Benefit from our experience in money and its applications in Business or Personal life.

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