Focus Can Be Very Important for Collectors


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Collecting in the US has spread out to so many areas that it can be difficult to keep focus on creating a great collection. And anybody who is on the internet knows ANY piece is available somewhere and many times, EVERYWHERE. Cross-collectibles have shown up in every venue, as well. If you collect say, Teddy Bears, you could have a wall full of stuffed bears…or a wall of Coca-Cola® Bears, or whimsical porcelain bears or sports team bears or realistic bears or bears with tails or bears with only beer logos. These have some sort of focus. But, problems can arise when the collection of bears includes, Coca-Cola®, Pepsi-Cola®, McDonalds®, Baseball, Football, Automobile, Tractor, Bride & Groom, Real Fur, Plastic and Live Bears!! All this does, is fill up your personal space.

The choices have become so numerous in collectible product lines that it can break the bank in no time. When I was young, I collected old colorful glass bottles/ivy starters in the shape of a violin (called Viobots) and what a Nice Hunt you can have when you are looking for a specific type of item. Collecting today has become a “how can I fill a cabinet” type of marketplace. I also speak, of course, about the “new” Made to be Collectible Product Lines. They can all be of different quality and very diverse in theme. Just as a monstrous example, look at Department 56®, which has dozens of great lines and types of collectibles. Department 56® can be wonderful if the collection is carefully thought out instead of buying what’s new this week or what’s to be retired next month.

The best collections, in my opinion, are the ones that are old or brand new that have a planned direction from the start. Before starting to own more than three of anything (the definition of a collection), why not say “What do I LOVE in this Collectible Line?” If the answer is “not much”, choose another that has lots of things you love, allowing you to choose carefully what to next add to your collection. I find that when you branch off in some related way, the assortment appears disjointed and often creates yet another “less-completed”, if not unloved collection. It’s OK in the beginning for the exciting new collection, but after just a short time, boredom takes over and a move is made to something else to collect.

This can cause the outgo of a lot of money, which many collectors don’t like to acknowledge. I know this because I am a dealer who buys and sells. But, I see it mostly at flea markets, tag sales and shows. Unfinished collections are selling for pennies on the dollar because they were mostly made to be collectible, maybe overpriced when offered and not really loved when purchased. That is why it is best to buy ONLY what you love, because values of “Made to be Collectible” Lines are generally made to make money for the manufacturer up front and the value can dive after only a short time. Why do you think they retire pieces? They’ve made their money and need to create that frenzy-like feeling about their products as they introduce new items in the line. It’s genious. Hmmm…remember Beanie Babies® ?

If you concentrate your collections, you may create a prized possession to hand down to loved ones that might actually enjoy them. In the process, you might have inadvertently chosen a collectible line that HOLDS its value for more than a month or a year. Oddball collections are hard to love by anyone other than yourself.

Steve has been a Collector for 38 years and is celebrating 10 years online as a collectibles and memorabilia dealer at


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