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The Simple Dollar

Can investing in collectibles really work?

Don't run out and pour your life savings into baseball cards.

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Another example is with a small handful of original Magic: the Gathering cards that I own. These cards come from the very first set of this game, a game that’s selling more and attracting more players now than it ever has.

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I enjoy these in a much different way. Rather than keeping these items in a PSA-graded case, I just keep them in protective sleeves and … gasp … actually play with them. These cards still come up on my kitchen table when I play with my wife or my friends and thus they still bring me quite a bit of enjoyment.

Are they losing value because of the play? They’re sleeved. I’ve played with them many times in sleeves and their condition seems identical to when I first sleeved them.

On the other hand, I am getting consistent enjoyment out of the use of these cards. It’s an item with collectible value that I also get to directly enjoy on a regular basis.

To me, regular enjoyment of a collectible item that retains at least some of its value makes the collectible item worth it. I’m reminded of a friend of mine who has an uncut sheet of pre-1970 Topps cards on his wall – I think they were 1965 Topps, but don’t quote me on that. They’re framed and hanging in his office. That sheet has some significant collector value and he could re-sell it for some cash any time he wanted to. Instead, it hangs in his office and gives him value almost every day.

So, here’s what it comes down to. Invest in – and keep – collectibles if they provide some additional value to you personally. Do they make you feel happy when you see them? Do you get to actually use them in some fashion? Do they serve as a home decoration? Those are great additional values that a collectible can provide.

Of course, without that additional value, I would suggest flipping the item as soon as possible unless you know the market for that collectible cold – and anyone outside of collectibles dealers doesn’t know it cold. Why? Collectibles are notoriously unsteady items to invest in, so if you have one that you’re not getting personal value from, I’d move those invested dollars into something at least a little more stable.

What about as a pure investment? I’d frown on it unless you are sure you can turn a quick profit or you’re picking it up with spare money for the personal value it’ll give you. Do not rely on a collectible as an investment that will support you in the future. Instead, do rely on it as something that has a good chance of retaining value while bringing regular joy into your life.

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