Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Collectors' Motives Vary from Investment to Fun

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Collectors' Motives Vary from Investment to Fun

Article excerpt

Why do people collect?

How do they decide what to collect? Is the man with 5,000 adjustable wrenches seeking to learn how the design improved, or does it bring memories of fixing cars with Dad? Does the woman with hundreds of dolls seek to make up for her meager toy supply as a child?

Many think collecting is a form of investment: Buy it now, save it in mint condition, sell it later at a profit. But that is not always true. By the time investors realized that old, boxed Star Wars toys sold well, there were hundreds of others saving the same things, creating a huge supply to be sold in the future. If the supply is large, the price usually will not go up.

The collector who owns the rarest and the best is usually the winner. Some collectors want to complete a set. The search is on for every Beanie Baby or every stamp used in Tonga. When the set is complete, the collector often gets rid of the collection because the fun is gone.

A small group of collectors are historians. They search for political buttons, books or Civil War memorabilia, and then study the objects to learn about the past. The history of cooking is explained by objects like iron-handled egg beaters and fireplace toasters.

Many people are not collectors at all, but they merely want to furnish a home. Tables, beds, pictures, silverware, dinner sets and other useful items from shows and flea markets are less expensive and less commonplace than those found in department stores. Whatever the reason, the collector can have fun, make new friends and enjoy a house full of special treasures.

Q: My parents were married in 1946 while my father was still in the Army. My mother just found her plaster wedding-cake bride and groom in her attic. I was surprised that the little groom was wearing a military uniform. Was this common? Is the cake decoration valuable?

A: Wedding cake "toppers" made of a small bride and groom attached to a base became popular in the United States in the 1880s. The first ones were made of hardened sugar. During the 1900s, bride and groom toppers of varying quality had been made of wood, bisque, porcelain, chalkware or plastic. During World War II and into the early 1950s, a limited number of groom toppers wearing military uniforms were produced. They sell from $35 to $50.

Q: I have a metal plate that pictures a woman with flowing hair and a pink hair band. On the back it reads, "Compliments of Mattie Brewing Co., phone East 66, Home ex 942, Los Angeles, Cal., Pat. Feb. 21st 1905."

A: Tin plates decorated with colorful pictures printed directly on the metal were popular advertising giveaways in the early 1900s. The most famous companies making these plates or trays were in Coshocton, Ohio. J.F. Meeks Tuscarora Advertising Company and H.D. Beach's Standard Advertising Company made thousands marked with the name of a customer or with their own name. …

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