Established Collecting Patterns
Seasoned antiques and collectibles dealers may find the concept to be ‘old hat,’ but the truth is, the more popular and desirable a thing is, the greater likelihood it will sell quickly. That truth is not always readily apparent to those who are new to this rather specialized sales arena, however. So the ‘True Collectible’ guideline is an attempt to convey the principle.
The online selling field may seem infinite in scope, too, with millions of potential customers worldwide. But, success in selling collectibles on the Web is gained in much the same way as it is in the physical world, by knowing buyers’ needs and meeting them. Success can depend to a great degree on whether or not you are offering collectible properties able to meet at least one of these three key commercial elements:
1. Not easily obtainable locally.
2. Wide appeal due to a current surge in popularity or because an item is able to ‘cross over’ collecting boundaries.
3. Competitive pricing.
Consider the Market’s Opinion of the Item
Say that whenever she can, your neighbor’s Great Aunt Mable clips articles about David Hasslehoff out of current periodicals. She collects these by pasting them into a scrapbook. Is it likely that multitudes of other people share her desire to do this? If she were to try to sell said scrapbook full of modern clippings online, would very many buyers react favorably and vie to buy it? While her scrapbook may be factually described as ‘rare’ or a ‘one of a kind’ item, who else but Mable might care to own it, even so? How can such an item be assigned sure status as a ‘true collectible’ with an established and recognizable monetary value?
Because collectors often look upon their collections as having investment potential, collectibility always contains monetary implications. So, manufacturers often hype the ‘limited’ nature of new items they have to sell, or they might place a public declaration on the item itself, to imply sure and certain future value.
But, neither limiting production, nor printing the words ‘Fine Collectible’ on either an item or the box in which it came, can ensure that future collectors will want items more than others do today – or that they will be willing to pay more to own them. Great Aunt Mable’s scrapbook illustrates that simply knowing someone, somewhere, collects a particular thing can’t automatically grant that thing status as a ‘true’ collectible. Maybe 50 or 100 years in the future Mabel’s scrapbook will be all the rage. Today, and probably for the near foreseeable future, others will judge it to be just a scrapbook full of common clippings.
Only the market at large can decide which things are highly desirable or more valuable than other objects. The individual collector or manufacturer has little actual ability to impact secondary market choices in regard to preferential items.
So, What is a ‘True Collectible?’
Basically a True Collectible is an item for which a reasonably well numbered audience of avid buyers can be expected to exist and for which a pattern of recognizable trade on the secondary market has been established.
If that statement doesn’t clarify the notion sufficiently, it may help to mentally replace the word ‘true’ with the word ‘legitimate.’ A 20-year-old sock previously owned by a musician would not be a ‘legitimate’ collectible. But a sock of the same age, and the unimpeachable provenance of having been on the right foot of Elvis Presley while he performed ‘Jail House Rock’ on the Ed Sullivan show, would be legitimate, since trade in Elvis memorabilia is a well established collecting niche.
To ‘collect’ means to accumulate as a hobby or for study. A ‘collection’ is a group of objects or works to be seen or kept together. But a ‘collectible’ is a group or class of objects sought by collectors. Note that the definition is expressed in plural form, ‘by collectors.’
When something can stand the ‘test of time’ and even though an older item (or perhaps because it is older) people seek it, then offering it to collectors on the open market at an attractive price can logically be expected to result in its sale. If something very new cannot yet be found in a printed price guide book, printed for collectors, then a sale will likely be slow or non-existent, or the price at which it must be sold in order to move it out of inventory will not create an appreciable profit.
Confirming whether a piece has been mentioned in a printed price guide book as required by site listing requirements can help to ensure it meets the designation of a ‘true collectible,’ as defined above. If determinations like this are always made before listing newer items, shoppers are likely to begin to find a wider variety of the kinds of things they are actively seeking. And a gradual increase in sales may very well be the welcomed result.