Collectibles: Worth more than memories?
Jubilee souvenirs are all the rage, but collectibles are rarely a safe bet for investment. Chiara Cavaglieri reports
Sunday 03 June 2012
Union Jack-emblazoned mugs and t-shirts are popping up everywhere as the country prepares for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic Games. It's the perfect excuse for a big party, not least because we get an extra bank holiday this weekend. But could it provide an opportunity for investors too?
sales of HM memorabilia on eBay have risen by 203 per cent since the beginning of the year when preparations for Jubilee celebrations got under way. Even the Duchess of Cornwall is giving her fellow royals a run for their money with sales of Camilla souvenirs rising by 95 per cent over the past three months.
"We've also seen a 50 per cent rise in the average selling price of royal memorabilia on the site in recent weeks," says Laura Wilkinson, an eBay spokesperson.
The beauty of alternative investments, whether it is royal memorabilia, stamps or toys, is that you can invest in things you enjoy. But getting it right can be tricky. Memorabilia is by no means a safe bet for investment, often because of the sheer volume of items that are produced to make money.
While the jubilee and the Games may be a good short-term money-spinner for retailers, investors are unlikely to snap up any gems. The market for royal commemoratives has reduced in recent years, particularly for the more ordinary items, with Staffordshire factories mass producing pottery for jubilees.
"Royal commemoratives were popular with collectors from the 1930s until the 1980s, but since then, fashion has changed and prices have fallen somewhat dramatically. Prices are low at the moment, despite this year being the jubilee," says Patrick van der Vorst, the founder of valuemystuff.com and a former director at Sotheby's.
Mr van der Vorst says that it could still be worth investing in items with intrinsic value such as commemorative gold medals and silver items, or rare and limited edition creations made by renowned factories. Condition and provenance are key to establishing value, but picking the right object is often more specific. For example, a Team GB Sydney 2000 Olympic Games training top worn and signed by Sir Steve Redgrave is valued at £750 to £1,000, marking his historic last appearance at an Olympic Games and fifth gold medal.
Selling through specialist auctions will maximise returns but remember you will have to pay seller's commission of between 10 and 15 per cent. You may also have to factor in additional costs in insurance, marketing and illustration fees. As a buyer the commission is higher, starting from 20 per cent plus VAT.
With other types of popular culture memorabilia, consider whether it will stand the test of time (an interesting question for Twilight fans) and whether the items themselves are worth collecting. Badges, pens and pillows aren't likely to increase in value but a first edition of a book is a different story – signed copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone sold for $24,000 (£15,000) at auction in 2010.
Movie posters can be a good low-cost option simply because they are often chucked away. Nicolette Tomkinson, a director at Christie's, says vintage posters in good condition do very well in their auctions.
"Always buy posters in the best condition that you can find them and keep vintage posters behind UV glass or out of direct sunlight," she says. "Auction house specialists are always happy to talk to you about your collection and advise on upcoming sales – gain as much knowledge as you can by asking as many questions as you can," she says.
As the first country to issue stamps, with Penny Blacks, Great Britain is a key market for rare stamp collecting. Stamp traders such as Stanley Gibbons are keen to highlight the benefit of stamps and signatories as an alternative asset and a hedge against inflation. Again, modern printing techniques make it easy to run off a sheet of stamps and whether it's a royal wedding stamp or a jubilee stamp it is unlikely to increase in value because so many are produced. From an investment point of view you need to concentrate on age, rarity and quality.
Whatever you decide to collect, start with some basic research to determine which path you want to take. Barbie may be getting on a bit, hitting our shelves in 1959, but she remains the biggest-selling toy in history. Barbie collectors typically focus on vintage dolls (manufactured before 1972), pink box dolls (toys made for children and widely available), or collectible dolls (Mattel's Barbie Collector Edition dolls released each year which are designed for display).
If it exists, find an index to quantify the market. For stamps there is Stanley Gibbons' index of Britain's 30 rarest stamps, for example.
Caring for your collectibles is perhaps the most important thing so find out the best way to store them. Light, damp and humidity are the stamp collectors biggest enemies, so if you're looking at this from an investment point of view, dealers such as Stanley Gibbons do offer to keep your stamps insured and safe in vaults for free.
But, no matter how pristine your stamps, liquidity is always an issue for investors. This means that collectibles should make up a very small part of a portfolio and be considered a long-term investment.
"It's possible that this type of memorabilia could go out of fashion in 10 or more years, so your collection could suddenly be worth nothing," says Jasmine Birtles, the founder of website Moneymagpie.com. "It's important that you get enjoyment out of it, then if it does rise in value that's an extra."
Debt in Britain: Numbers seeking help on how to cope with mounting bills goes up by more than half in three years
General election 2015: David Cameron's promise brings uncertainty to investors
Bargain Hunter: BT improves its mobile reception with 'incredibly competitive' deals
Have a happy new financial year
Simon Read: 'It went below the radar but you could be eligible for a tax break on your savings'
- 1 Replica Back to the Future Hoverboard released
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
- 4 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 5 Dylan Moran on quitting smoking, being about as sexy as the Pope and why comedy panel programmes are 'c*ck shows'
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
iJobs Money & Business
£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...
Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...
£150 - £190 Daily Rate: Sheridan Maine: One of London's leading water supplier...
Day In a Page
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000