Beanie Babies are the perfect example of a "collectible'' gone bad, ending up with no value as an investment.
Maybe they are in a plastic bin, or in a box somewhere in your garage or attic.
Perhaps there are dozens of them; maybe hundreds. They are cute, in excellent condition, and of almost zero value to you or anyone else.
They are Beanie Babies. They were once the hottest small-price collectible in America, and today it’s actually difficult to give them away.
Occasionally, items come along that appear to be the perfect collectible: an item that has some special aspect to them, making them more valuable from one day to the next.
But because those items become so popular, they are overproduced, and their value drops precipitously. Plus, other than the value that comes from their initial superstar status, they have no real worth as a commodity.
Let’s call them Collectibles Gone Bad, and Beanie Babies certainly belongs at or near the top of the list.
There are others. Thomas Kinkade paintings, Norman Rockwell print plates, Cabbage Patch Dolls. They all fit in the status of items that were once thought to have value well above their initial cost and today have little value beyond sentimental.
Lou Kahn, head of the Bakerstowne Collectibles Appraisal and Consignment service in West Hempstead, N.Y., told TheStreet.com that keeping collectibles is like “storing money under your mattress.
”You're going to have the same amount of money next year, but it's going to be worth a lot less,’’ he said.
However, as with anything collected by one person, if there is another person collecting similar items, there can be a market for the item. But as an investment property, it is necessary to find someone who appreciates that item more than you do and is willing to pay for the right to own it.
“The only way to make money investing in collectibles is to find someone who is willing to pay more for them than you did,’’ Vanguard Group senior consultant Gus Sauter told the Wall Street Journal. “So you, or an advisor you use, better have intimate knowledge about what drives people’s preferences for the collectible you are considering.”
There are many examples of items Americans “invested” heavily in only to find themselves with a box full of nothing more than keepsakes. Beanie Babies are perhaps the most famous example.
Beanie Babies: They sold for between $4 and $6 when they first came out in 1993 and today they are most often seen being sold for $1 apiece at garage sales. Ty Warner produced just nine models in their inception, but eventually hundreds of Beanie Babies were produced. The key to the collectibles craze was that Ty Warner “retired’’ dolls from retail sales, and “investors’’ thought that would make them more valuable over time. They were wrong.
Hummel figurines: A perfect example of a generational collectible, these German-styled ceramic statuettes were widely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. But, as industry people say, the market has “died out’’ as Hummel fans have passed away. Websites like EBay or loaded with Hummels that people inherit and sell off well below their sale price.
Precious Moments figurines: They are made of porcelain, they have wide eyes and pretty dresses, and they are worthless in the trade market. Once running as high as $45 per doll, they rarely sell on EBay for as much as $5 per doll.
Franklin Mint collectibles: Coins and plates made to commemorate significant moments in history, the Franklin Mint items are mass-produced, sell at a high cost, and have no resale value whatsoever. “They produced a lot, they advertised, but their items don’t have much value,’’ Kahn said.
Norman Rockwell plates: The paintings on the plate are reproductions of paintings Norman Rockwell did for The Saturday Evening Post. The original works might be worth something, but these mass-produced (by four different companies) plates have no resale value, unless you find someone with a very strong sentimental heart. They are forever to be passed down from generation to generation, especially those that were bought annually for Mother’s Day or Christmas.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.