Should You Have Collectibles In Your Investment Portfolio?

collectibles-returns-0914NOTE: there are plenty of people who make money from their collections. In fact, most of the people on The Collectors Show ( make their full time living that way. But most do not as this article explains.

A Barnett Ravenscroft Wealth Management report explains why collectibles are no more than speculation.

As investors search for alternative investments that look more attractive than low-yielding bonds or expensive equities, interest in collectibles (art, wine, classic cars) has gathered momentum. Some collectors luck into windfalls, and if you believe collectible indexes the annualized returns leave normal asset classes in the dust. But once you dig into the details, it’s hard to justify collectibles as anything more than an expensive hobby with the occasional upside.

“It is easy to understand the superficial appeal of investing in collectables, either directly or through some sort of pooled funds,” says a recent white paper from Barnett Ravenscroft Wealth Management. “However, it is important to get behind the headlines of the money pages of the Sunday papers and kick the tyres on these investment opportunities a bit harder.”

Collectibles have a negative future cash flow

The first thing to note about collectibles is that they have a negative expected cash flow: like gold, they don’t produce anything, but you have to pay for storage and insurance. Your investment can only work out if demand pushes the price up faster than storage costs, insurance, and inflation combined.

Transaction costs, not included in the double-digit returns that are so often cited, are also a major problem for investors. If you want to sell an expensive painting, for example, you may have to pay 20% – 25% of the sale price to the auction house or broker. Collectible investment funds, like other hedge funds, typically have a 2/20 fee structure, but they are also much less liquid and five-year lock-ups aren’t out of the question.

Add in the higher potential for fraud since collectibles aren’t regulated in the same way as stocks and bonds, and there is a lot to dissuade investors before we even address price movements.

Collectible prices demand-driven and difficult to estimate

Clearly, collectibles prices are demand driven and a change in taste can cause a particular piece to plummet in value. The BRWM paper illustrates the danger with the example of Van Gogh’s ‘Portrait of Dr Gachet’, sold in 1990 for $82.5 million and eventually resold for about an eighth of that price. Van Gogh’s work is still highly sought, but his various works aren’t fungible and there isn’t much data on any one painting. Determining a fair price involves a lot of estimation, and if no one else reaches the same conclusions when you need to sell you could be forced to take heavy losses.

Collecting Occult Documents

This week on The Collectors Show we once again learn about a new collectible.

Documents, but not just any kind. Occult Documents. Brandon Hodge and Mark Demarest started and maintain the International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals (could you not have picked a shorter name?).They actively collect, catalogue, buy, and curate some of the most rare writings of their kind.

Historical & Cultural Importance
Spiritualism and religion, especially freedom of religion, are ingrained in American culture. While not all religions have the number followers that some do, those worship practices were and are important to those who adhere to them.

Imagine that part of the New Testament were missing for Christians or the parts of the Old Testament written by Moses were lost? As profound as those omissions would be for Christians and Jewish people, they would be similarly experienced by others. Brandon and Marc are making a significant contribution to religion and history with their collection.

Genesis of the Collection
The IAPSOP was formed in late 2009, as it became apparent to the founding group of spiritualist and occult researchers that (a) the repository libraries traditionally expected to retain spiritualist and occult periodicals were in many cases removing these from circulation, or from their collections entirely; (b) that independent students and researchers were in some cases duplicating effort and expense to have materials preserved digitally, largely for their private use; and (c) that digital libraries like Google Books were completely indifferent to the special curatorial problems of periodical literature.

The Organization
The IAPSOP Archives are maintained by IAPSOP — an informal collection of students, academics and researchers with an interest in the periodical literature of Spiritualism and the occult, for the purposes of preserving the substantial body of Spiritualist and occult periodical literature produced between the 1840s and the start of the Second World War.

These materials are provided in curated, digital form, already indexed, suitable for online reading, scholarly use and citation.
As with all such open source archival projects, the IAPSOP provides these materials for their historical value; no endorsement of any position is implied by the provision of particular materials in the Archive, and the IAPSOP makes no warrantees as to the fitness of these materials for any particular purpose other that historical research

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Why Mattel’s Major Matt Mason Is Not A Popular Collectible

There are no conventions, movies, television shows or museums devoted to Major Matt Mason. There are few (relatively speaking) web sites to devote to him. Major Matt Mason was toy manufacturer Mattel’s “Man In Space” starting in 1966 through 1970.

A toy from the '60's should be a very popular collectible but really is not. What happened?

A toy from the ’60’s should be a very popular collectible but really is not. What happened?

Major Matt Mason was the perfect toy for mostly American children who grew up during the golden age of space exploration. Unlike almost every other blip on the pop cultural horizon, Major Matt Mason has not been resurrected in any official form since the brand was discontinued. Why? What happened?

The mid 1960’s were a great time to be a kid. Some of the most iconic toys of all time were in their prime. We all know about Barbie and G.I. Joe, toys that transcended the 20th century and remain relevant in the 21st. But another that started with so much promise did not.

From a pure demographic point of view, Major Matt Mason should be a perfect collectible. But somehow, he really is not. To try and find out what happened and why, The Collectors Show host Harold Nicoll interviewed John Michlig. The interview can be heard on iTunes or at Web Talk Radio (

“Growing up in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, I was a member of the Action Figure Generation,” Michlig said. “But Matt Mason did not benefit from the same corporate support as G.I. Joe and simply vanished without a trace; a forgotten toy.” Most action figures then and now were based on fantasy. Major Matt Mason was an explorer. Sent to his moon base with his sled, multi-story base, and crawler M3 was not sent to space to battle aliens. Major Matt Mason was based on the heroes of the day; NASA and the Gemini astronauts. The design of everything in the line was authentic, based on actual designs from men who worked for aerospace contractors. One such architect of M3 was Jack Ryan.

John W. “Jack” Ryan was a Yale graduate who worked for Raytheon as an engineer prior to moving to Mattel where he worked as the head of research and development. Ryan created many popular toys for Mattel. Some of these were Barbie, Chatty Cathy, Vroom and of course M3. Ryan owned over 1,000 patents for his designs. For all of his other successes the M3 was not among them. How come?

The interest in M3 waned after the actual moon landing in July 1969. The American public’s interest in the space program and beating the Soviet Union to the moon were highest in the mid-1960’s. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, launching of the Sputnik, and the orbit of the first person ever (Yuri Gagarin) the Soviets had a huge lead in the race to the moon. That the U.S. was able to catch and pass the Soviets was one of the great come from behind wins in history. But once the race was won, public interest turned elsewhere. NASA cancelled the last two moon landings based on public concern over the expense of the program and turned its full attention to manned flights that only orbited the earth. The Skylab, joint flight with the Soviets, Space Shuttle and International Space Station are all earth orbit only missions. Exploring the rest of the solar system was relegated to robotic craft, that while triumphs of technology, never captured the interest of the public the way the first manned missions to the moon did.

Major Matt Mason went away because Americans lost interest in lunar exploration, not because it was a bad toy. Why is Major Matt Mason not more collectible? Possibly because it was so short lived. Manufactured and promoted from 1966 through 1970, it did not have the longevity Barbie, Hot Wheels, or G.I. Joe did. Another reason could be the figure itself. The materials the action figure was made from did not stand up over the decades. The paint on the figure chipped and peeled off. Constructed on a wire frame, the wires would stick through the body after periods of play. Heat, the enemy of many collectibles, really took a toll on Major Matt Mason as the figure got sticky and melted, even in air-conditioned homes.

Will Major Matt Mason make a comeback? Maybe. Tom Hanks owns the rights to making a Major Matt Mason movie and was a huge fan of the toy line. But it may take the human exploration of another planet to rekindle the excitement and fun of another toy like Major Matt Mason.



Major Matt Mason from Mattel Should Be A Great Collectible. What Happened?

Major Matt Mason from Mattel has all the hallmarks and pedigree of what should be a very popular collectible.

A toy from the '60's should be a very popular collectible but really is not. What happened?

A toy from the ’60’s should be a very popular collectible but really is not. 

The space explorer toy and his moon base were introduced in 1966, prime time for baby boomers who like to collect and rebuild their childhoods. The action figure was based on space exploration, and most every kid in the U.S. wanted to grow up to be an astronaut and thought that was a viable career option. Mattel  expanded the MMM line with all types of gear, bases, vehicles, other characters, etc.

As quickly as the line of space toys appeared it was discontinued. In 1970, Mattel ceased to produce the toy. Collectible? Kinda, but the toy is barely a cult item. How come? Listen to the Collectors Show this week to find out. Listen here at:


Hot Toys Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine Sixth Scale Collectible Vehicle

Hot Toys finally debuted their Marty McFly sixth scale figure this summer at San Diego Comic-Con 2014 and it was very well received. Fans were ecstatic to know they would really be getting their hands on a sixth scale Marty McFly action figure and the DeLorean Time Machine to go along with it.

Back to your wallet! Hot-Toys Back To The Future Collectible figure retails for a mere $500.00.

Back to your wallet! Hot-Toys Back To The Future Collectible figure retails for a mere $500.00.

The vehicle is quite large. It measures 72cm long by 35cm wide and stands 21cm tall. If you don’t have a massive collectible shelf, and I mean massive, you are probably just better off skipping this piece. Though, if you do have an extra $500+ laying around, go for it!

Pre-orders currently aren’t available, but if you are anxious to add this pice to your collection you should watch this page. Pre-orders should be live there soon.

UPDATE: The DeLorean is now available to pre-order directly here.


New Price Guide for Collectors

The Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide is a book entirely devoted to making you a better collector.AT2015-200x300

As the No. 1 selling reference book of its kind, this big volume is overflowing with a broad range of items collected today – and each entry is illustrated with a full-color photograph to help you know what you’re looking at. If you’re new to collectibles, your curiosity piqued after catching the latest episode of “Antiques Roadshow,” “American Pickers” or “Pawn Stars,” then you’ve come to the right place.

There’s no telling what precious objects might appeal to collectors. From carnival glass to firearms, kitchenware to quilts, every year we scan the spectrum of the hobby for examples of the most popular collectibles trading hands.

This year’s book is overflowing with color photographs to help you focus your collecting interests or teach you something new about the things you already own. The art and objects collectors are interested in changes over time, and these trends are influenced by several factors. Condition aside, the more unusual something is, it seems there is no end to the prices some collectors are willing to pay for it. A few trends surfaced during the last year, and we were surprised to see the number of categories on the move.

From our vantage point, the collectibles hobby is certainly seeing an exciting resurgence of new buyers and those curious about what they already own or have inherited.
Here are our annual picks of some of the hottest areas in the hobby:

• Regional U.S. paintings
• Advertising signs in all condition
• Vintage Colt pistols
• Americana
• Fine and contemporary art by well-known artists
• Celebrity memorabilia
• Sports memorabilia
• Jewelry (especially large colored diamonds and gemstones)
• First edition children’s books (signed first editions even more so)
• Scientific models and instruments
• Pre-1970 comics in excellent condition
• Abraham Lincoln memorabilia
• U.S. coins
• Curiosities or vintage objects that defy classification

These picks are influenced by a number of conditions, but last year three important factors rose to the surface as the chief influence behind auction prices:

- See more at:

Collecting Planchette’s On The Collectors Show

This week on The Collectors Show we learn about the auction of the world’s biggest egg and a special stamp printed for illiterate people. to hear the podcast on iTunes or at

During the interview segment we meet Brandon Hodge. Brandon collects planchettes, which are an integral part of Ouija Boards but also important for spiritualism well before the advent of Ouija.

You can see his web site at