"Collectibles" that are never going to be worth anything

I’ve got a bunch of early 90’s comic books, lots of #1 issues and stuff. Of course, this was the era where every publisher decided to start running 10 million prints and devalued them all to nothing. I think the highest value on any of the ones I own is a “Spiderman 2099” w/ a really cool cover, that I recently found is selling for $5-9 on Ebay.

Got me to thinking about other collectibles that have panned out to have been very bad investments. Two that pop into mind are maybe Pogs & Beanie Babies (hell, maybe they are still worth something for all I know.)

So let’s get listing! :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve got the same Spiderman 2099 #1 foil cover, too (somewhere).
I also have a mint-in-package Star Wars Episode I Monopoly game.

Mint postage stamps. Far too many people have been buying and putting away the current mint postage stamps in the US as an investment over the last 50 to 60 years, so that you can now buy them on eBay in bulk at below face value. Yes, you can buy $100 worth of 4 cent postage stamps that are 50 years old for a bit less than $100. (4 cents was the base rate for a letter back then, and it’s more than 10 times that now, so if they had held their relative value, those stamps should be worth $1,000).

Anything produced by the Franklin Mint.

My bicentennial quarter collection. Ditto for the state quarters I’ve dutifully collected.

I love the ones that have a brief moment in time, then flare out in obscurity.

There is a category of first edition book called “hyper moderns” - basically, buzz books. In other words, some famous author is publishing a surefire bestseller, the first printing is over 1 million copies, but some folks just have to get a first edition right when it comes out and are willing to pay a premium for it. But if anyone thinks that the newest Stephen King, Patricia Cornwall, or even James freakin’ Patterson will ever have any real collectible value is sadly misinformed. Note that I am discussing the Trade Hardcover first; it is a safe bet that those top authors will have limited edition runs up front, too - either to serve the hardcore fan base, or an even smaller vanity run, where they will produce 26 specially bound and individually-lettered copies for the author to distribute as they see fit. Those will have value.

The other type of hypermodern is the out-of-nowhere bestseller. When the Bridges of Madison County blew up, firsts were going for as high as $400. Now you can’t give them away. Same with Cold Mountain, Snow Falling on Cedar, The Lovely Bones, The Corrections (which had added buzz because of the Oprah Book Club kerfuffle and an error in printing which led true firsts to have an *errata *sheet tipped into the book) - there is always the next hype machine. They go for huge bucks for about a month or two then settle back down - usually way down…

On the guitar front, well, it is a different phenomenon - how do certain “Collectibles” actually maintain their value? Gibson and Fender produce the equivalent of Franklin Mint collectibles - buy an exact replica of Clapton’s Strat “Blackie” or Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstein” Parts-o-caster than he built (which includes an original 1971 quarter, just like Eddie used to tweak the bridge he installed!! Wow!). Anyway, some of these suckers go for $25,000 - $30,000!! and please note that Blackie was assembled from 3 Strats that Clapton bought for $100 apiece in the early 70’s and EVH built his guitar for about the same $300 amount and it is a junkyard dog of a guitar (cool as hell, but still…).

But these Franklin Mint guitars are holding their value. Each cost maybe $1,000 or a bit more to make - the only thing being sold is their limited edition collectibility - and Boomers are buying them up…I don’ get it.

Nope, not really! A lot of them get donated to the hospital I work at - they’re one of the few stuffed animal items we’ll accept used, since people take really good care of them - they often still have the tags attached. But we usually only value them at around $5 each. Sometimes the donor will value them at a higher price - usually around $10, but never more than that.

I keep telling my wife that the 2 State Quarters Collections we are keeping will someday net us $12.50 each.

Desert Storm trading cards.

I hear that the market for baseball cards has completely bottomed out.

Actually, I think it’ll be closer to $13.75 each, as I’ve seen quarters for Puerto Rico and American Samoa, and I imagine they’re going to do Guam, the USVI, etc.

Baseball cards after 1975. Prior to that, cards were valuable because your mother threw them all out. After that, everyone “knew” the cards were valuable, so no one threw them out. It was made even worse after 1981, when Donruss and Fleer started making cards – there were just too many cards and the law of supply and demand took over.

Even earlier cards seem to be dropping slowly in value, as people forget the players involved.

But all this is typical of any collecting bubble. Often, a certain item (baseball cards, Beanie Babies, comics, home mortgages, tulip bulbs, etc.) become collectable and people jump in and start speculating, buying them because they are increasing in value. Eventually, the bubble bursts and the value drops to nothing.

Well, to be completely fair, unlike most of its competitors, the Franklin Mint did produce some legal tender issues for small nations under contract with their governments. But with that exception, “almost anything produced by the Franklin Mint” is probably a good answer.

Yeah, like my $200 pewter Starship Enterprise, I can’t believe I did that.

Anything at all produced for the expressed purpose of being a collectible.

I’ve got a lot of comics and die-cast racecars from the 90’s. The only thing that managed to become valuable was a comic I bought for around $2.50 that was up to about $60 the last time I checked.

From this month’s Reader’s Digest:

*Especially not “limited edition” plates (or anything else, really) that are produced in multiple runs.

Completely untrue. Go to http://www.beckett.com and start looking up some recent cards, while they won’t match the $25,000 someone could pull down for a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, to say they’re worth nothing is ridiculous.

I wish it were true, but see my comment about limited-edition Replica guitars above…

What makes something valuable is generally “anything legions of moms threw out as garbage, but which the kids will want again when they are old, have jobs, and wax nostalgic”. :wink:

Stuff that was recognized or produced as a collectable when it was made is unlikely to ever be worth anything much, because too many people didn’t throw it out.

By "valuable’ I mean of course “really worth a lot of money more than it cost when sold”. Stuff that is intrinsically expensive may well remain expensive. What is "valuable’ to my mind is something like a 10 cent comic book that sells for $20,000.