Our possessions are important to us — especially if they have sentimental and artistic value. Purchasing collectibles has also become a profitable enterprise over the past few decades. As the value of collectibles may increase over time, you might want to think about how you store, display, and protect your collection.
Typically, collectibles are valued based on:
- Rarity. If there is a scarcity of the item in the marketplace and there is a demand for it, the collectible is more likely to be valuable.
- Condition. The better the condition, the higher the value.
- Authenticity. An original is worth more than a replica.
- Age. Some items tend to increase in value the older they are.
Since damage to collectibles can affect their value, it is important to know suggested ways to store and display them.
Improper storage for collectibles
Improper storage methods and adverse environmental conditions can cause long-term damage to your collection, directly affecting its value.
- Extreme dryness can cause organic materials to harden and become brittle.
- Excessive moisture can rust and corrode metallic items, and attract fungus to objects with organic components such as paper items or cotton / fabric items.
- Temperature changes can cause objects to crack and warp.
- Too much sunlight can fade photos and documents.
- Poor ventilation can attract mold and pests.
Proper storage for collectibles
The proper handling and storage of collectibles can help maintain your collection's integrity and value.
- Old editions and vintage comic books should be stored at a consistent temperature (70 degrees Fahrenheit or below) and away from direct sunlight to prevent the paper from becoming brittle and moldy. Plastic protector sleeves may also be used to protect individual comic books. These should be obtained from a firm specializing in archival supplies.
- Vintage metallic signs and figurines should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent rust.
- Stamps and sports cards should be stored in a space with good air circulation to prevent mold. A dehumidifier may help curtail the growth of mildew.
- Rare coins (except pure gold) can deteriorate, tarnish, and corrode in damp environments. A low-humidity environment and constant temperature can help protect coins. If a coin isn't encapsulated in its own presentation case, store it individually in a Mylar plastic holder. Contact your coin dealer for the best way to store your collection.
- Objects of value should be stored in acid-free paper.
In flood-prone areas, consider protecting items in sealable plastic bins and storing them well above ground level.
Proper collectible display techniques
If you wish to display your collectibles, here are some suggestions.
- Heavy items should be displayed upright, not stacked on top of each other, to prevent warping.
- Displayed objects should be kept in a smoke-free environment. Smoke residue can stain collectibles.
- Displayed items should be kept away from direct exposure to sunlight. Heat and UV rays can damage books and other paper-based objects. You can display paper items, like photographs, in UV-protective glass.
- Collectibles should be displayed out of the reach of pets and small children.
If you live in an area of the country that is prone to earthquakes, consider using earthquake putty to hold display items more firmly in place.
In addition, consider investing in a home security system to not only protect your collection, but also your family.
To determine the value of your collection, consider preparing an inventory and getting your collectibles appraised by a professional appraiser. A detailed inventory including expert valuations can help you not only document your collection, but also provide valuable information if you plan on insuring these items.
- Carefully document each collectible. The more information on each item, the better.
- Take photos of each object.
- Retain receipts to conclusively establish ownership of items.
- Update your inventory regularly.
- Keep photos and documentation in a safe off-site location or digital storage.
You can find many appraisers online, including the Appraisers Association of America, the American Society of Appraisers, or the International Society of Appraisers. Some appraisers specialize in certain types of property. These organizations provide names of appraisers by area of specialty.
Insurance for collectibles
After you have completed the inventory of your collection and have had it properly appraised, it's a good idea to insure it.
Many homeowners and renters insurance policies may provide limited coverage for collectibles or fine art items. You may want to consider purchasing a Personal Articles Policy. This is a separate policy, specifically for items such as valuable jewelry, antiques, fine art, collectibles, etc., that may provide broader coverage than a homeowners or renters policy. Individual items are typically insured up to a specific amount, or large collections of certain types of items (such as wine collections and sports card collections) may be insured on a blanket basis. The Personal Articles Policy may be used to insure just a few items, or it may be used to insure an entire collection.