How to begin collecting collectibles? Easy.
Start collecting what you love most.
If you're in it for profit, what's the point? Finding a one-of-a-kind collectible to add to your collection is a thrill that money can't buy.
Besides, the value of any collectible is based on demand (think about old typewriters, or the Pez candy dispenser craze).
Once the market is flooded, the latest fad quickly fades along with the perceived value of once-"hot" collectibles.
Many think of collections as a way to invest for future financial gain. In some cases, this can be a good investment strategy, but if you are collecting just for financial gain, there are less risky ways to make money.
Take the case of the Cabbage Patch Doll where investors held original issue dolls in their packaging waiting for the 25th anniversary of their release. After 25 years, the original dolls were only worth about as much as the purchase price. If you count in inflation and storage, these speculators lost money. There are many collectibles that may increase in value over time, but if you only collect for financial gain you are in a very risky investment area. If you enjoy the collection and it happens to increase in value, you've discovered the secret to becoming a satisfied collector.
Whether you collect music boxes or matchbox cars, each item in your collection is special. Some collectibles are measured by the sentiment attached to them. The least valuable Barbie Doll may be the first one a little girl received and played with for years -- and to her it will always be the star of her grownup collection.
When you're first starting out with collecting, passion may get the best of you. Just like collectors who are only in it for the money, you'll discover a fair share of fly-by-night sellers and fast talkers.
Word to the wise? Before buying any collectible, ask lots of questions, and be on the lookout for unscrupulous dealers. Verify your collectibles' authenticity and quality before you make a purchase. (That goes double for sports memorabilia.) If shopping on eBay, be extra careful to check a seller's history. Also check completed sales and related customer feedback -- and always, always remember: if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.
How to start collecting
Begin by browsing eBay and other online auction sites, your local flea markets and antique shops. Or, look through yard sales as you join thousands of other collectors in an enjoyable weekend diversion. Half the fun is in the searching.
As your interest grows, read up on the market for the particular collectible you have in mind. Top antique and collectible guides will give you insider tips and tricks to collecting plus lists of hundreds of popular antiques and collectibles and what they're worth.
Later, if you have a specific collectible in mind focus on collectibles markets where you're more likely to expand your hunt.
As always, let your heart lead you to specific items you want to buy, but don't fall in love with the first one you find. A big part of smart collecting is appraising the condition of the item for sale. If it's in poor condition, give it a pass. That is, unless you MUST HAVE that badly worn porcelain elephant JUST BECAUSE.
For toys and other consumer items, the original packaging only adds to its worth, so also take that into consideration when you're inspecting the overall condition.
Protecting your collectibles
After working hard scouring the street fairs, flea markets, and antique shops you'll want to treat your highly-prized possession with a little extra care.
Just like vintage wine collecting, collectibles should be properly kept away from light, heat and moisture. If they are being stored, keep them in a cool, dry place to protect them from mold and mildew. If proudly displayed in a hallway or living room, make sure it's not near a fireplace, drafty door, or sunlit window.
To keep your collectibles in excellent condition, occasional cleaning is also important. Besides an occasional wipe with a dust cloth, extra care should be taken with cleaning fine china and porcelain and textiles such as quilts and linens.
More about collectibles around the Web:
Just up ahead, learn more about everyone's favorite collectibles at top sites offering consumer buying guides, directories of dealers, as well as forums and discussions for interacting with other collectors around the Web.
Collectics Antiques and Collectibles Mall - Fun, funky layout fronts
a back end of consignment shops, antiques and collectibles, a bookstore, reference information, an arts magazine, online quiz, and a cyber museum.
Collect-online.com - Extensive directory of resources for finding online antiques, art, coins, dolls, stamps and lots more, plus classified ads, message board, bookstore.