The Declining Collectibles Market

Auctions, estate sales, moving sales, and flea markets are held throughout the year, and in many states, garage sale season is now in full swing. There is usually a plethora of collectibles that are for sale, with the hopes they will bring a nice stack of dollar bills. Instead, people are finding that the values placed on collectibles in the past have decreased, sometimes to the point where they can’t even give the items away. What caused this decline in the collectibles market?

Many Baby Boomers and their parents’ houses were (or are) full of decorative plates, commemorative coins, figurines, fine china, sterling silver, vintage toys, etc., purchased with the thought that someday they would be worth more than what they paid for them. Some even viewed these collectibles as an investment for their children.

Older generations’ basements and attics are full of boxes of “stuff” that was collected in the past. The wave of minimalism – the newer generations don’t want the “clutter” – has created an excess of supply against a smaller demand. Most often the only exception for these items is if they are family heirlooms. And even then, the items usually only have sentimental value.

Because of this shift, collectibles have a much lower value than once expected. Some common items that no longer hold their value from days gone by are:

China – Lenox, Royal Copenhagen, and Wedgwood are well-known manufacturers of fine china. These were expensive and quite an investment. A full set now will typically only bring up to $200 at estate sales and auctions and some have found they can’t give the china away at a garage sale.

Collectibles – Decorative plates, commemorative coins, and other collectibles manufactured by The Bradford Exchange, Franklin Mint, and Danbury Mint are being sold (if you can find a buyer) for pennies on the dollar. The coins and medals bring more value when melted down for the metal.

Figurines – Hummels used to be sold for hundreds of dollars; now some are for sale on eBay for as little as $2. Precious Moments also have very little value.

Longaberger baskets – Once a $1 Billion company, Longaberger closed in 2018 after years of declining sales. Many were priced at more than $100, and today most sell for $10 or less.

Of course, there will always be one-of-a-kind or extremely rare or unique collectibles that hold a high value. The easiest way to find out what collectibles are worth is to check eBay. You can see how much – or IF – people are paying for them. If you find that you own or inherited items of high value, we recommend that you contact an appraiser to get a professional assessment of its value.

And for collections such as antiques, fine art, weapons, sports memorabilia, etc., we suggest a collections inventory. This will prove ownership and help your insurance agent know the full value to ensure that your policy has the correct coverage in case you would experience a loss.

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