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The category of collectibles (also commonly spelled collectables) is one of the most exciting and far-reaching fields at auction, including anything from autographs, advertising and ephemera to memorabilia, books and manuscripts, to coins, stamps and world currency. Many collectible items are considered relics of a bygone era, and often bear sentimental value in addition to their market value.
Other popular collectibles at auction today include enamel signs, vintage Coca-Cola ads, U.S. coins, comic books, baseball cards, football cards, memorabilia and more. Personal effects and other items associated with celebrities (famous athletes, musicians, and actors) are wildly popular at auction, including Elvis Presley collectibles and Star Wars memorabilia.
Coins and Stamps
The estimated annual market for rare coins in the United States overall is around $3 billion, with over 5,000 coin companies in the country. The US Postal Service estimates that 11 percent of Americans collect US stamps, making it the largest collecting hobby in the country. Roughly the same percentage of the British population also collects stamps, while percentages rise in Germany, Switzerland, and Eastern Europe.
The most expensive stamp ever sold is a British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, which sold at auction in June of 2014 for $9.5 million. Prior to that, the most expensive stamp ever sold was a Treskilling Yellow, which sold for $2.2 million in 1996. Not all stamps sell for earth-shattering prices, and many U.S. stamps can be easily acquired at auction for reasonable prices.
Passing many performers in memorabilia sales, Elvis Presley lives on years after his death. Items dating from the 1950s and ‘60s, when Presley produced most of his music and films, are typically most valuable. And among sports fans, baseball cards still attract high prices at auction. Some cards even shockingly reach values in the millions; in 2016, Goldin Auctions sold a 1909–11 T206 “Jumbo” Honus Wagner, for $3.2 million.
Factors that can determine the value of a collectible item include its scarcity (how rare it is to find that item at auction), condition, and even provenance. Before buying at auction, be sure to research the item in advance and request a condition report.
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