The 10 worst collectible investments ever
You can make money from investing in collectibles. But not if you invest in these 10. Because these are the 10 worst collectible investments ever.
Do not invest in this bear
Ty was smart.
It would only sell Beanie Babies in independent toy stores, creating the illusion of exclusivity. It would provide the stores with varying quantities of the stuffed toys – seemingly at random. It would cease production of certain lines without notice. And it would price them at an affordable $4.
It all helped fuel the idea that these were rare commodities. Yet that you could own one – if you could find one.
But then Ty goofed. It stopped production in 1999. And kids moved on to something else.
So when Ty resumed production the following year the damage had been done. Nobody wanted Beanie Babies anymore.
Today most sell for 99c, a quarter of their original price.
The rarest examples still have some value. In 1998, a handbook suggested that Stripes the tiger would reward you to the tune of $1,000 in 2008. Not quite. You can pick one up today for around $25.
Do keep an eye out for Peanut the Elephant, however. She, famed for being the wrong colour blue, could net you around $2,000.
America fell in love with the Hummel figurines the US soldiers brought back with them from WWII. So what did the German manufacturer do? Make lots more of them of course, and export them to the US.
And Americans' passion for these cutesy figurines lasted for decades.
But tastes change. Today Hummel figurines are highly unfashionable.
And with the original buyers now dying in large numbers, and the figurines turning up at flea markets with increasing regularity – the concept that they are in any way an investment is long gone.
There is still the occasional four-figure sale. But most achieve less than $50.
The Franklin Mint
This 1974 'collectible' is available today for less than $5
Sounds official doesn't it?
The Franklin mint is a company set up in 1964 to produce and sell "limited edition" collectibles. Which already sounds suspicious. More suspicious still when you learn the coins, dolls, ceramics and plates it sells are "limited" to production runs in their thousands.
Stay well away. With few exceptions, Franklin Mint items are worth less today than their original retail price.
Cabbage Patch Kids
This is not your pension
Created by Xavier Roberts in the 1970s, the brand went global when Coleco bought it in 1982.
Things got crazy for a while, with the most desirable dolls selling on the secondary market for four times their $25 retail price.
Things are crazy no more. Today you can pick up a doll for about what you could back in 1982.
The original 1964 trucks are investment propositions - this one was made in 2006
In 1964, the East Coast gasoline company (better known as Hess) began selling plastic replicas of its tankers.
They proved hugely popular.
By the 1980s, the company realised it was on to a good thing, and began making more trucks and assorted other vehicles.
Many investment-minded collectors lapped them up. But trouble was on the horizon. With the market now flooded, the 1980s trucks dropped in secondary sale value. Today most Hess trucks, now only available online, are far from an investment proposition.
Except if you are lucky enough to have a pre-1980s model.
"Early Hess trucks are good, if you have them from the early '60s and 1970s," the head of the Bakerstowne Collectibles, Lou Kahn, told TheStreet.
"If you have them from the '80s, '90s and on, they're a flea market item."
The original truck from around 1964 can make up to $2,000. 150,000 were made.
Bronze Age comics
Worth $10 - fetched $250 in the early 1990s
You've got Golden Age (1938-1950).
You've Got Silver Age (1956-1970).
And you've got Bronze Age (1970-1985).
Unless you're very smart, or very lucky, forget Bronze Age comics as investments. Collectors don't want them. Not compared with the Golden and Silver age titles.
That's the same for more recent comics too, as Vincent Zurzolo, owner of Metropolis Collectibles, told Interest.com recently.
"Back in the early '90s, the black-bagged Death of Superman No. 75 [published 1992] was selling for upwards of $250, and now it sells for a measly $10 a copy."
It's now cheaper than before to get drunk on top quality Bordeaux
And it was all going so well.
Values for top bottles of Bordeaux grew by more than 250% between 2003 and 2011, helped by a surge of interest from Asian investors.
But August 2011 was the tipping point.
That was the moment buyers thought, "I can't afford this", confidence evaporated, and values plummeted by a third in two years. Prices have remained unchanged since.
The 1929 £1 Postal Union Congress stamp has dropped in value since the 1970s
"There is no question it's diminishing. There are no youngsters, just look at the people here. Too many are dying off."
The words of Frank Simpson, a member of the Croydon Philatelic Society for 40 years, speaking with the Guardian newspaper recently.
And therein lies the problem. If there's nobody around who wants to buy old stamps, prices for old stamps will fall.
It's not an issue at the very top of the market, where the stamps of extreme rarity and prestige will continue to attract suitors. It's in the mid and low market where values are expected to plummet. And indeed, are already plummeting.
For example, the 1929 £1 Postal Union Congress stamp would have set you back more than £1,500 ($2,300) in the 1970s. Today, you can buy one for around £250 ($380).
The internet age has also brought problems. While it has helped collectors more easily find what they want, it has also revealed that stamps once considered rare or hard to obtain are, in fact, available with a few clicks of a mouse. This has sent prices tumbling.
1980s baseball cards
How much for a 1988 Orel Hershiser card? $1.
Until the late 1970s people collected baseball cards for fun.
Then money got in the way.
James Beckett's Beckett Baseball Card Monthly must take much of the blame. Established in 1979, for the first time it demonstrated the rising values of rare baseball cards.
And people invested. Heavily. Not just on the rarest, most desirable cards. But on the plentiful, on the decidedly average. On the cards that no person should ever have considered an investment.
Even on new cards produced in the 1980s and 1990s.
And on it went until the bubble burst in 1994.
Only the finest cards rode out the storm. And today, you can still get huge sums for rare, desirable vintage cards.
A rare Honus Wagner card from the early 1900s auctioned for $1.2m earlier this year.
Happy Meal toys
Investing in Happy Meal toys will make you sad
Most McDonald's Happy Meal toys are absolutely worthless. The reason? Because there were tens of thousands of each toy made. And not many people want to own these cheap bits of plastic.
Of course, there are exceptions.
Yes, in 2009 an 11-year-old boy did sell his collection of McDonald's Happy Meal toys and assorted McDonald's paraphernalia for £8,000.
That was a special case.
One to look out for are the toys brought out to coincide with the 1996 101 Dalmatians film. A complete set is worth around $150.
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