Friday, February 19, 2010

Big Important Collector Rule Number 3

They will always say "buy the best quality you can." Well, yeah. It's true.

And I will explain. A lot of new collectors are more concerned with quantity than quality. They prefer to buy a lot of stuff, rather than one nice thing. This means they tend to but a lot of cheaper items (which means more common) than an expensive one.

I am guilty of this. In my misspent youth when I had started seriously collecting militaria I had a bad tendency to go to shows and try and come home with no money. I normally did this quite well. I liked having 'one of each' and would often buy a few $5, different, but common items. This means my collection expanded fast, but it was probably a mistake on my part.

I spent money on such common things as canteen and pistol belts. There was very little written about such 'junk' at the time so I essentially collected by seeing what looked different. In some cases (and not many) I lucked out and ended up picking up a rare variant not knowing what I was doing. In most cases I bought decent average examples of things, which have gone up slightly to moderately in value.

Some very common items, such as WW1 canteens which are pretty hard to destroy) turn up so often in flea markets and such that I think by now I have about 8 of them sitting in a box. I probably paid the going rate for the first one, and now a days due to the large number of them the going rate is not much more.

But in my quest for one of everything, I bought a lot of 'filler' quality. Jacket with a hole, or a repair, or something. Webbing with a small tear and a bit dirty. Helmet that was somewhat dinged up. Good honest wear, but not top quality. The value of these has not gone up all that much, and there is plenty of average quality still on the market.

Because I was too concerned with how many items I could buy, I passed over a great many really good quality things that are now very scarce or rare. So I now find that I can go out and easily buy the poor to average quality stuff with no real problem for not much more money, but the rare stuff, the unique stuff, the mint condition stuff- well that is not always easily found, and that equals higher value and price.

So Big Important collector rule # 3 is that once you figure the focus of your collection, don't buy poor quality unless it is dirt cheap, and try and only by the very top quality. If you collect Elvis plates this means don't buy the 5 chipped ones for $50, save the $50 for one in good condition. Pass on the 3 very common Elvis plates to save the money to get the rare older plate. Thos common ones will always be available. Dabbling collectors who buy those will always be getting out of the hobby and selling them off- sometimes for far less than they are worth.

And yes, I regret many of my purchases, and kick myself for passing up some amazing stuff. But it has all somehow entered my collector's data bank and made me what I am today. I just wish someone had told me when I was young.

Oh wait, I think they did. They just did not explain it very well. I just thought they were being snobby.

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