If You Don't Love Your Collectibles, You'll Hate the Results of Collecting

By Rick Kahler

NEW YORK ( AdviceIQ) -- Collectibles -- from furniture to coins to stamps -- carry the promise of great riches. That's a false promise. Buy these items because you like to own them, not as investments.

Almost everyone has a story about a cousin or an aunt who bought a box of junk at an auction and found in it a diamond ring worth several hundred dollars. Every once in a while a valuable painting by a famous artist turns up in someone's attic. The TV program Antiques Roadshow sometimes features odd items that were sitting around in someone's house for years and now are appraised for thousands of dollars.

Those stories, if true, are exceptions. They don't mean buying and selling art or other collectibles is a good way to make money.

Buying art, antiques or collectibles is extremely speculative, in part because values are so subjective. What a given item is worth depends entirely on what a collector is willing to pay at any given time. A piece of pottery or jewelry fluctuates considerably in value as trends come and go. Yesterday's hot collectible (think Beanie Babies or Jim Beam bottles) is tomorrow's overpriced embarrassment.

Does this mean you should never buy art or antiques in hopes that they increase in value? Not necessarily. I suggest, though, that investment shouldn't be the primary reason for your purchase.

If you're going to collect Art Deco jewelry or decorate your home with original artwork, do so because you like those things. Choose a painting because you want it hanging on your wall. Buy a carving or a pot because you want it. Collect iron toys or old books because you have fun searching for them at antique stores and garage sales. If your art or collectibles increase in value, consider it a nice bonus.