Personal Finance

Investing in art/antiquities

  • Last Updated:
  • Sep 6th, 2007 7:23 pm
Tags:
None
[OP]
Deal Addict
Mar 15, 2003
1407 posts
21 upvotes

Investing in art/antiquities

I'm curious if anyone here actually directly 'invests' in tangible objects like art or antiquities?

I've got a bit of an antique book collection, but other than one book, nothing of interest or really outstanding value - a whack of $50 ebay stuff. There's a couple of books I'd like to buy that are more up into the $1000's but I've not convinced the spouse that I can have that much allowance yet.

For example, I collect books on insurance, fishing, stock market, and a few other areas. There's a book by Charles Babbage (the guy credited with inventing the computer) on insurance, but it's thousands. Is something like that worth buying? Or am I clueless? Or both?
5 replies
Newbie
Dec 12, 2006
7 posts
Hey Wheel,

One important thing to keep in mind when buying antiques or art is that you are passionate about the pieces you are buying. Most of what I have read cautions against buying things like art or antiques specifically for investment purposes in hopes that they increase in value. It is already a great investment if it brings you a positive emotional response by looking at it. If it happens to appreciate in value then so much the better. You are the only one who can answer if $1000 for a book is "worth it", assuming you cant get the exact same one for less somewhere else. Treat these purchases like whatever money you spend will be gone for good, without hope of recouping what you spent if you decide to sell it. After that if you still want to buy, then maybe its worth it. Just remember to do your due diligence.

Read up on it if your interested,
http://amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0399 ... 14-7682608

Or check out the library the usually have lots of price and antique/art info.

Good Luck
Sr. Member
User avatar
Feb 4, 2006
997 posts
TO
Well, to start off, the worth or value of as an item is up to you, but if we can look at it as strictly a financial investment, then it's slightly different. As an investment, artwork has been becoming increasingly popular, but it has some characteristics that make it less than optimal as an investment IMO.

- Extremely poor liquidity
- Lack of availability of quantitative information

If we consider items like paintings - it's all very well and good if an item is valued by the "market" at x price, but for a collector's market such as art, if that buyer doesn't exist, it doesn't matter what value the market price is. If you need access to the funds at a specific time, you would have to take a loss on that sale below market price.

Also, even though the value of these items will appreciate, it's difficult to assess or guess, even, which ones would do well. It depends on how good your eye is, since there's no hard numbers, no annual report, etc. for you to review. So to invest in these things as a financial return does require that high level of ability, I believe.

For books, the market should be even smaller than artwork, so you might want to consider that. But yeah, the emotional return is pretty significant as well, so it's up to you what you think the value is for you, personally.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jan 27, 2004
41558 posts
5198 upvotes
T.O. Lotto Captain
Hey. Im an investor of arts & antiquities.
Yes... im only 22, and people think 'wow... you have the hobby of a 65 year old man', but if you know your stuff you will be making large $$$!

But the thing with investing in things like this is that most of the effort is driven by your love and passion for it for your collecting. If your in it strictly for the cash gain, then it really isnt worth it... your going to be spending all that time reading those books and scouring shows, and auction sites for nothing really...

For example one of my favourite pastimes is guns. Therefore i've developed an interest in antique guns. I have some pistols that date back as far as 1847 O_O

The thing with antiques is that people pay what they want to for them. I bought one pistol from the US for only $200.... Down there the pistol is considered junk because they have so many around. But up here in Canada i was able to sell it for four times what i bought it for. Im kinda kicking myself... B/c i bet if i kept it longer it would have been worth much more! Things that are worth money usually have some sort of historical significance, or something unique like a defect.

From my personal experience... If you've been in the antique game long enough, sometimes you might bump into someone that unknowingly sells an antique thinking its junk.
Jr. Member
Mar 16, 2006
135 posts
wheel wrote:
Sep 6th, 2007 11:58 am
I'm curious if anyone here actually directly 'invests' in tangible objects like art or antiquities?

I've got a bit of an antique book collection, but other than one book, nothing of interest or really outstanding value - a whack of $50 ebay stuff. There's a couple of books I'd like to buy that are more up into the $1000's but I've not convinced the spouse that I can have that much allowance yet.

For example, I collect books on insurance, fishing, stock market, and a few other areas. There's a book by Charles Babbage (the guy credited with inventing the computer) on insurance, but it's thousands. Is something like that worth buying? Or am I clueless? Or both?
My dad used to collect books. Not as investments, but just because he loved them. His oldest books dated back to the 1600s.

The very first thing you need to realise about collecting books is that they are detiriorating right before your eyes. If you're not actively involved in preserving them *now* they will be worthless in the long run. Nothing worse than spending $1000 on a book, only to have it crumble to dust 5 years from now because you left it out on a bookshelf without proper environment control.

Pretty much the same rule of thumb with any collectible, piece of real art or antique: preservation is everything. Watch "Antiques Roadshow", and see how fast the value of an item drops if it has the slightest bit of damage.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jan 27, 2004
41558 posts
5198 upvotes
T.O. Lotto Captain
Prospero wrote:
Sep 6th, 2007 7:22 pm
My dad used to collect books. Not as investments, but just because he loved them. His oldest books dated back to the 1600s.

The very first thing you need to realise about collecting books is that they are detiriorating right before your eyes. If you're not actively involved in preserving them *now* they will be worthless in the long run. Nothing worse than spending $1000 on a book, only to have it crumble to dust 5 years from now because you left it out on a bookshelf without proper environment control.

Pretty much the same rule of thumb with any collectible, piece of real art or antique: preservation is everything. Watch "Antiques Roadshow", and see how fast the value of an item drops if it has the slightest bit of damage.
very true.
I keep my stuff oiled up nicely, with sicilia gel packs to lower moisture.

Top