Baseball cards, Beanie Babies and model trains are so yesterday. Murder weapons, pickled animals and barf bags are hot--and reveal a quirky yet profitable side of the collectibles market. Buyers and sellers agree on one thing: People will pay lofty sums to acquire that special something that intrigues, fascinates or disgusts. The golden rule is collect what you love and should you need to sell, chances are pretty good someone out there will shell out a pretty penny for your one-time obsession.
Speaking of pennies, Walter Husak had some. And now he has even more after selling his collection of 301 rare American pennies for $10.7 million earlier this year. The highest bids were on two large antique "coppers" from 1793 and 1814, fetching $632,500 each. Husak decided it was time to cash out when the only pennies he had not acquired carried price tags of more than $700,000.
Why do collectors like Husak part with their treasures? Often it's about money--either a collector needs some or has spent too much on his or her collection. Significant others might coax collectors to part with their treasures too.
Or a collection might be considered an eyesore and compel the law to intervene.
Just ask Wayne Martin. It took the 64-year-old antique-store owner 40 years to acquire the 30 restored tractors dotting his property. Seems the old adage one man's treasure is another person's trash holds true: City officials in Clovis, N.M., have deemed the collection unsightly, and Martin could face fines.
"I just wanted to preserve the tractors instead of junking them," he says. "People that have been in Clovis for 10 minutes complain and get their way."
Martin can't stomach the idea of pricing his beloved tractors, which were abandoned or acquired for next to nothing, so he will let bidders determine their value. He has decided to keep six as the last remnants of the hobby he shared with his father.
Another reason for selling a collection: Investment priorities can shift.
Take Florida real estate magnate Anthony Pugliese, who, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, decided to liquidate his collection of pop culture memorabilia to start "City of Destiny," a 61-square-mile community in Florida that uses alternative energy and other green technologies.
Pugliese put his collection on the block in March. The Palms Casino, site of the auction, billed the 850-lot auction as the "greatest pop culture collection ever assembled." It took Pugliese 25 years to amass and includes the gun Jack Ruby used to shoot Lee Harvey Oswald, Mel Gibson's sword from Braveheart and the Wicked Witch's hat from The Wizard of Oz.
The sword and the hat sold for $25,000 and $170,000, respectively. Pugliese received bids upward of $1 million for the pistol but ultimately decided to keep the historic weapon.
And collecting isn't just an American pastime. Kumla, a small town in central Sweden, is the world capital when it comes to airsickness bags. It took 15 years for Rune Tapper, a radio engineer, to acquire more than 1,200 barf bags from 474 airlines in 133 countries, which he showcases on his Web site, sicksack.com.
"I must be alone in the world collecting barf bags," he says in an e-mail. "You can't imagine how surprised I was when mail started pouring in from other collectors around the world with bag donations and requests for bag swapping.
Some airlines even print special edition bags. A recent eBay
Collectors will shell out big bucks for any obsession. Case in point: The Golden Calf a work by British artist Damien Hirst that sold for more than $15 million this fall at Sotheby's
Calling cards were Gerald Burg's, well, calling card. Not telephone cards, but the Victorian-era name cards left when visiting an acquaintance. According to the Houston Chronicle, Burg’s extensive assortment features some of history's most famous names, including Napoleon, Jefferson, Sitting Bull and Hitler. Burg estimates spending $150,000 over 60 years on the collection that also includes some of the literary world's best: Hemingway, Twain and Jack London. Burg isn't in financial dire straights but wants to ensure the collection is available to the public.
The 10,000 card collection became Burg's retirement fund, proving a healthy obsession can be a sound investment.
( source: From Article By David Sutton, Forbes.com )