Antique Trader Inbox: What should you be putting away?

In conversation with one of Antique Trader’s writers the other day, we began talking about what in this day and age might actually turn into collectibles and/or antiques.

She asked, “What everyday item do you think you should be putting away for your kids and grandkids?”

It’s a fair question, and one that’s made more complicated by the mass production and mass marketing of so much in today’s global market. How can you even begin to tell what will hold value? As the Beanie Baby craze showed, people will pay exorbitant amounts of money for silly things, thinking they’re the most important objects in the world. How much is that special Rainbow Bobby Bear, Sunshine Daisy Bunny or Fluffy Cloud Cleo Pony worth now? (I’m pretty sure I just made those names up … At least I hope so.)

My writer, I believe, was talking specifically about ephemera of the day (catalogues, newspapers, cards), but we wanted to open the subject up and know what our readers thought would be the collectible of tomorrow, ephemera or otherwise. Me? I’m putting my money on money … It won’t be long before we buy everything with a chip implanted in our forefingers, or our cerebral cortex, that links to our bank account via any computer …

If you want to let us know what you think, or see what the people thought whose letters didn’t get into this issue, go online to www.antiquetrader.com.

Dear Noah,

This is my first time replying to anything I’ve read … but here it goes! Your right: My money is on money! Being the last of the “baby boomers” (by the year I was born) I started with comic books and baseball cards, both of which are footing the tab for my two youngsters’ college education, but today’s cards and comics don’t have the same heart of the 1960s. The sports cards are far too fancy and most don’t have the staying power of a good old Nolan Ryan or Mickey Mantle. The kids today also know that if it’s not “slabbed” and “10,” don’t keep it.

I think if we’re going to sock something away for the grandkids it should the Lincoln “Wheat” penny and the Ben Franklin half-dollar. I’m not keen on paper money because they have no precious metals in them. Although, if you ask my husband, I have no problem spending it!

I think furniture will always hold its value if made well – “well” being the optimal word here. Toys today are mostly computerized and even Disney is losing its touch (as far as the new stuff goes). The parks and the movies push too hard to make that franchised dollar and things are produced by the millions.

I’m holding on to my Silver Age comics, my ‘60s baseball bards and my Disney production cells (they use computers now) for as long as I can. I’ll teach my grandkids about the salad days of baseball, and all things Disney, hand over my “penny jar,” and tattered half-dollar and dime collecting books (remember them?) and hope that they will find as much joy in them as I have over the years.

Sincerely,
Rachelle D.
Long Beach, Calif.


Hello Noah,

I feel any and all paper collectible(s) will be the thing of the future; as you said, it’s becoming a plastic no-paper world … Not in any particular of importance but here is my list:

Plastic charge cards with special themes, baseball team logos, ethnic logos, etc. The earlier the dates of expiration, the better.

Sunday newspaper full-sheet comic pages, full colored … these are becoming very expensive to produce, as well as to pay the artists, particularly the years 1999 and 2000 and before.

Still in contention: sports cards, particularly early 1960s and older due to the use of heavy cardboard paper stock … again, excellent condition will still bring a premium.

Richard Donovan


Hi ya,

I think that if people want to preserve something tangible for the next generation they should actually be looking at preserving family photographs!

With everything on digital cameras, computers and CDs, the family photo album is fast becoming a thing of the past. My grandchildren visited me from the city in Pa. this past summer at my home in the Adirondack Mountains, and we had a wonderful two weeks of hiking, swimming, playing, eating and visiting sites … I made both of them memory albums and they cherish them!

Today kids are collecting WEBKINZ – a tangible link to the cyber world – and I admit I’ve bought my share for the grandkids … but these are on the same order as My Little Ponies and Cabbage Patch Kids – which we saved when the kids were younger. Not much value, but lots of sentiment there these days. My boys loved Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles … what they saved, though, were the trading cards. They practically destroyed the toys playing with them and I vacuumed most of the little weapons up during cleaning. Probably the weapons are the most valuable thing now!

These days, with my kids grown and raising families of their own, I’m preserving retro and Mid-Century collectibles and sentimental things that they grew up with. Not only are these things cool – they have memories linked to them: The family china and everyday tableware, Depression glass I have had since I was a young girl, books I read to them as children, household accessories.

They fought over who would get the lava lamp and that hideous 1950s panther lamp with the chartreuse Venetian blind shade, which I remember from my grandparents home!

Thanks,
Julie P. Robinson


Noah,

It seems to me that collectors relate to items that were meaningful to them in their youth.

So, I think that the first-generation video games, such as Pong, Pac-Man, Frogger and Donkey Kong will be extremely collectible, especially if they are in a format to be played on some obsolete game system.

Memorabilia from The Simpsons will always be popular, but – because of the show’s longevity – these items will be neither expensive nor rare. Products bearing the likenesses of Beevis & Butthead and Ren & Stimpy will be more difficult to find, and therefore more pricey!

Finally, I think election memorabilia from the 2008 Presidential campaign will be highly prized. Having both a woman (Hillary) and an African-American man (Barack OBama) present a serious challenge for the highest office in the land will make their merchandise valuable in the future.

Regards,
Dennis Gillund
Waupaca, Wis.


Noah,

Catalogs and cards sell. Newspapers’ only hope is rarity. The eventual movement away from printed news may help to make certain headlines collectible. Today there is almost no interest in newspapers after 1990.

NR, an antique dealer from Maine
P.S. Don’t laugh! Most folks here read OK!


Noah,

It seems to me that anything associated with someone who has had a moment of fame in a performance-related field will be collectible; the less academic the field, the better. The unwashed masses will pay a million or more dollars for an autographed baseball or a stupid sum for a dead singer’s automobile, but marvelous works of art, ceramics and furniture sometimes sell for a song.

As a result, I think your question about what to put away for children and grandchildren makes little sense. Collect what you like and are comfortable with so that no matter the ultimate financial outcome, you will have enjoyed paying for it. Every high bid has an underbidder and value is only a reflection of that in a point in time. Trying to plan your collecting with today’s unknown knowledge of tomorrow is fruitless.

Paul H. Lauer
Via email


Noah-

I’m 67 and I started collecting when I was 9 – yes, 9! My daughter is 42 and she prefers I not get rid of anything. Now the question may be, what do I collect?

Well, Marilyn Monroe and a few other stars, as well. Of course baseball cards and non-sports card from long ago, comics from the Silver Age back to early Batman. Flash Gordon, Big Little books, early presidential items, soundtrack albums, Edison cylinders for my player, early 78s of note and anything that catches my eye at the flea markets.

Most everything can be seen in our home. The house was built circa 1882 and restored. So we have many places to display and still keep the integrity of the house.

As for what will be tomorrow’s collectible items – older Fisher-Price products seem to be good for all generations. I see space items as top of the list from now on into infinitum. Much of the stuff in the future that will be collected will not be as rare as my generation of collectibles because of the Internet and the overwhelming mass production of nearly everything. In a way this is good because the prices will be more affordable and collecting will turn into “collecting for the pure fun and not profit.”

Good hunting,
Dennis Ellison


Hi Noah-

I definitely think that many of the Hallmark ornaments will be collectibles of the future.

This collectible has continued to draw people in with their continuing changes. No ornament is made for more than one year and they have been treasured pieces since the late 1970s and just get more popular.

I think the motion ornaments will be particularly collectible in the future, as well as some of the more intricate Enesco Music Boxes from the late 1980s or 1990s. They only did those for a few years and many were very intricate. Also, they were easily broken, so those that survive the test of time and still work 40 or 50 years from now (and are totally intact) will definitely be collectible.

Anyway, just a couple of thoughts!

Arlene Chemnitz

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