Traits of the Successful Collector
The Motive – Money or Memories?
Our society acknowledges that almost everyone has some innate desire to collect something. We have television shows today that focus on all aspects of collecting and collections and many groups of collectors exist that get together regularly to share their latest finds while searching for new treasures. You might think Super Bowl fans are fanatical until you attend a convention of Coca-Cola collectors. Football fans waver season to season but many Coke collectors have been unrelenting in their pursuits for decades.
Of course, we live in a capitalistic market. That means that there is almost always some economic element to the collecting process. People are limited to buying the items for their collections that they can afford even if profit is secondary to their passion. Even these individuals pay attention to prices because they play such a key role in upgrading and completing most collections. Other people collect primarily to generate a return on their efforts and are very sensitive to prices and their trends.
Unless you simply collect an item like pine cones and have no plan to sell the collection, dollars play a large role in your collecting activities. In fact, one of the most popular TV shows is all about finding out the value of supposedly collectible items.
This issue of economics addresses the first important characteristic of the successful collector. That trait is a clear understanding of why you are collecting. If you are trying to complete a particular set of figurines, your priority is finding missing items and upgrading what you have. You may reasonably pay more when you find just the right piece. If you’re in it solely to make some money, you will always seek to buy at the best price and may have multiples of several pieces and holes that you will never seek to fill. In this case, success for each is defined quite differently. Just remember, whatever the original motive and whether it is the collector or their estate, collections are regularly sold to other collectors and then it is all about price.
The Necessity of Knowledge
Regardless of a collector’s primary motive, successful collecting involves a detailed knowledge of the facts, trends and financial aspects of your specialty. In the first place, such knowledge makes your collection and the process of building it much more rewarding. The little tidbits and insights that are shared about individual items, their creators, and who may have owned them are all part of the collecting process.
Secondly, it takes knowledge to understand how to evaluate and grade a piece for your collection. Whether it is coins or watches, condition is a fundamental element that is evaluated and condition is often difficult to determine without a lot of study and detailed knowledge about the items you collect.
Trading on Your Word
The more exclusive your collection and the more narrow the niche, the more important it is to be known as a reliable and honest trader. Collectors create small communities and you will find that the very best and most successful collectors are universally respected and trusted. Whether buying or selling, your reputation is a critical currency.
While successful collecting involves a great deal more, you will be off to a great start with these three!