By Xavier Brenner Tis the season of scented candles and argyle socks and countless other unimaginative gifts. Let's face it, when time is short and the shopping list is long, it's all too easy to stick take the path of least resistance. The same holds true when it comes to choosing investments. There's nothing wrong with traditional investment vehicles (stocks, bonds and ETFs) when it comes to building your portfolio. Yet sometimes non-traditional investments are worth a look. Some asset classes like collectibles (wine, books, antiques, you name it) can fuel intellectual passions. Other investments may be more about giving than taking. Here are 4 non-traditional asset classes that don't fit the cookie-cutter mold.
If you're someone with a literary bent, investing in rare first editions books can be intellectually rewarding and a good financial hedge against losses in other parts of your portfolio. First edition fiction works by well-known authors have appreciated 140% on average over the past decade, according to the British firm Paul Fraser Collectibles. Serious book collectors in search of bargains and new finds attend major book fairs and keep track of rare book auctions by Sotheby's and other houses. The best rare book advisers are in it for the love of the game. But the rewards can be sizable. In 2013, a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, with annotations and drawings by author JK Rowling, sold for $235,000.
It's the ultimate liquid asset. Believe it or not, the market for top single malts is a sophisticated one with indexes that track valuation trends. Over the last six years, top single malts have risen in value by more than 660% far higher than global stock markets over the same period. At an auction in Hong Kong back in January, a single bottle of Macallan “M” scotch sold for a record $628,205 at auction. The market is being driven by growing international demand for high-end spirits and a decreasing supply of rare and aged single malts, according to the experts.