In the realm of alternative investments, collectibles are popularly associated with luxury goods and the wealthiest investors. In Stanley Donen’s cult classic comedy Bedazzled, for example, a fabulously wealthy man tells a visitor that his library of first editions is now worth ten times more than when they first entered the room.
But collectibles are not just the province of the wealthy. In households with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million (not including primary residence), collectibles are the most popular of alternative investments for 19 percent of investors, ranking above precious metals (14 percent) and 529 college savings plans (12 percent). They are most popular with baby boomers ages 55-64 and seniors (20 percent each), as well as those in this wealth’s groups upper income brackets (23 percent of those with between $500,000 and $749,000, and 20 percent of those with between $750,000 and $999,000.
What are the most sought-after collectibles? Currency or coins (which might include previous metals) are the most popular among 21 percent of investors, followed by art at 17 percent and automobiles at 10 percent. Age, not surprisingly, is a factor in which collectibles have the most appeal. Older investors go for artworks and currency or coins, while investors under the age of 55 are fielding collections of sports memorabilia, which generally, cost less than the average Warhol or Picasso.
One exception is automobiles, which have a profound hold on the American psyche. These are most popular with the under 55 crowd as well as seniors, perhaps driven away by nostalgia.
Across the income brackets in this wealth level, the most active investors are those with between $100,000 and $499,000. More than a quarter (26 percent) of these investors are cashing in on currency and coins, while 19 percent are investing in art.
Unlike other alternative investments, a collectible has an intangible subjective appeal beyond their financial worth, whether it be a painting by a favorite artist or an historic baseball card of a favorite player. That is why experts recommend that collectors only buy things they truly love or in which they have an interest. If they make money, all the better.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.