The desire to collect tangible objects has been an inherent part of life since we gave up our nomadic lifestyle thousands of years ago. Back in the 13th century, wealthier families began to acquire what was known as a “cabinet of curiosities.” It was a place to house their trinkets, curios and other museum worthy items. Such cabinets became immensely popular during the Victorian era as a way to display treasures acquired during travel to foreign lands.
In more recent times, some individuals’ personal collections have grown into all kinds of forms and sizes. Ranging from the humble stamp collection up to special garages housing hundreds of classic cars. A whole market has grown out of the buying and selling of various collectibles, with new collectibles arising all over the place. Which then begs the question, ‘what collectibles make for a lucrative hobby?’
The classic collectible, rare stamps are among the super-rich’s most popular collectibles due to their rarity, ease of transport and storage. According to Richard Lehmann of Forbes, the higher-end market for stamps is growing rapidly, and he states that “the more expensive a stamp is, the more rapidly it tends to appreciate.”
Though the popularity of coin collections has declined since the 1970s, it remains one of the most active markets, so active in fact that the international numismatic community (coin collectors) assemble each year for their own award’s ceremony – an annual dinner gala organised by the American Numismatic Society.
In the United States there are at least 5,000 coin companies in operation, with an annual market valued at $3 billion. Value tends to increase considerably over time. For example, the 1917 George V sovereign London mint coin’s value increased by 191,716% since its launch. The most valuable coin in the U.K, the 1933 George V penny, now sits at a staggering estimated value of £72,000!
Investing in up-and-coming artists now could be profitable at a later date. What may be a simple piece of street art for a developing artist could go on to sell for vast amounts at an auction once their popularity grows. Contemporary art is therefore one of the more accessible markets out there. One of the most expensive pieces of contemporary art, Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Orange), was sold in 2013 for $58.4 million, however there are other items by the same artist that sold for mere hundreds during the early stages of his career.
The popularity of whiskey as a collectible has gained popularity whilst interest rates are falling. The Rare Whisky Icon100 index has seen an increase of 497.72% since it began in 2008. Other markets including vintage and Japanese whiskeys have also seen marked increases in more recent years. Though fine wines are the classic alcoholic collectible, whiskey seems to have become a close second in terms of popularity. Fun fact: a bottle of 1926 Macallan, hand painted by Michael Dillion, sold for $1.5 million in 2018.
Classic and Exotic Cars
Mclarens, Rolls Royces and Chevrolet Corvettes: classic cars are certainly one of the most lucrative collectibles, if you have the space to store them. According to the Knight Frank 2017 Wealth Report, classic cars provided a 10-year return of 338%, the highest investment return of all collectibles during the period. The most expensive car ever sold at auction was sold in 2018; the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO was snapped up for the monumental price of $48.4 million, showing that the market is very much alive and well.
As with many collectibles, developing your knowledge through research is key when choosing what you’ll find the most rewarding. Passion is a vital motivator, as it’s doubtful that collectibles should form part of a core investment portfolio and therefore it’s not recommended to develop a collection that you’re not interested in. In the end, it’s all about interest over value.
We’ve come a long way from the days of curiosity cabinets and as time goes on, more and more interesting collectibles will no longer feature in the collections of tomorrow.