Editors' pick: Originally published May 11, 2016.
At one point or another most of us have daydreamed about finding buried treasure up in the attic. Whether it's an old china set, some dusty candlesticks or a copy of the Declaration of Independence, there's always that hope that maybe up among the rubbish is something of real value just waiting to be discovered.
After all, what could be better than a climate controlled treasure hunt?
That dream extends into collectibles. From pogs to marbles to Cabbage Patch Kids, most of us tried to collect something at one point or another. For a fewm the passion kept going, until today a few folks have the kind of pop-culture artifacts that will amaze archeologists from future civilizations.
For the time being, you can probably leave those shoeboxes where they lie though, because the truth is that those old prizes rarely retain much value over time. No matter how high profile, most collections sooner or later become little more than old curiosities, remnants of a fad that only really made sense in a specific time and a particular place.
Yet perception often lags. When it comes to many collections, people's belief in their value as an investment lingers long after that ceases to be true. What drives the kind of passion that can send prices for laminated cardstock soaring, and what can bring that tumbling back down to Earth? To understand that, it's helpful to look at ten collections that are worth less, sometimes a lot less, than many people think.
10. Coca-Cola Memorabilia
As Jim Griffith, an antiquarian and the dean of education for eBay, explained, a few rules guide the price of collectibles. First and foremost is the oldest of all: supply and demand.
"It would be a mistake," he said, "not to ascribe to the collectibles market the general rule of market value historically."
That particular rule hit the market for Coca-Cola collectibles hard.
Back in the 1940s and 1950s, America seemingly couldn't get enough of Coke brand merchandise, and the company obliged, pumping out paraphernalia from clocks and coolers to more exotic fare, such as the iconic gas station pumps and even flatware sets. (Contrary to popular rumor, however, the Smith & Wesson Coke bottle grip was simply named after the shape, not a marketing partnership.) Prices soared for even the most mundane of items as collectors and novices alike grabbed every red and white TV tray they could.
This also brought prices tumbling back down when those "collectibles" were on the shelves of every single dime store in the country. Today, the more elaborate pieces will still fetch a good price, such as the vending machines listed for over $1,000, but most of those Coke-stamped products are now just inexpensive curiosities, available for $5 here and $10 there... if the seller's lucky.