So, you have started a collection. Perhaps it began with one purchase or find – a single tin soldier or postcard or old purple bottle. Perhaps it was the gift of someone cleaning out an estate – 30,000 identical tram tickets. However you have begun, you are now a collector. Brace yourself.
You will discover the joys of the business soon enough – the pleasure of examining pristine examples of whatever – turning it over in good light and looking at the colour. The thrill of finding No.2 and No.3 in the series…and then eventually finding N0.32 when you had long thought it vanished. The malicious pride that you take in showing your box of goodies to those who only have a half a box of goodies.
Here are ten of the woes. These are not set out to discourage you – just to let you know where the potholes are so that you needn’t necessarily break your ankle in them.
- “It’s a collectible.” Said about anything, this is a blatant attempt on the part of the seller to make a series of Chinese plastic franchise toys seem valuable past the basic 2¢ of raw materials put into them. If you desire them above all the fair maidens of Samarkand, then they are collectible. If you do not, they are not.
- “It’s a collector’s item.” A slightly more up-market version of the shill in N0.1. Prices will be higher, the construction may be wood or brass, and in this case you are expected to admire the dust and broken parts on the item.
- “It was part of a collection.” Implying that you are being favoured with the breakup of the Manchu Empire for just this piece…and will expect to pay accordingly.
- “Part of my collection.” And you are now expected to be embarrassed at separating the owner from one of their beloved children and to cover your embarrassment with the payment of additional cash. There’s a pattern here, isn’t there?
- “Rare”. Common.
- “Very rare.” Sales on eBay have dropped off since the shipping charges have climbed and Ebay has started refunding for poorly-packed goods. Hence this price goes up. Hey, it make sense to me…
- “Extremely rare”. Fake.
- “One of a kind.” Fake and ugly in equal parts.
- “Other buyers are interested.” No-one gives a toss.
- “Only available for a limited time.” If we have to stretch the time until 15 minutes after Gabriel blows the trump of doom, we will do so…
Do not let this put you off – eBay and curio shops and yard sales can sometimes yield collector gems. Just look at the amount of money that is being asked and equate it with the real material value of the item, and don’t be buffaloed.