It's Collectible

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I got an advertisement today for a whole new line of “collectible” Star Trek snowglobes. Now, aside from the fact that I can’t remember a single episode where Captain Kirk flew his beloved Enterprise through the snow, I am somewhat skeptical of the term “collectible”.

It gets thrown around a lot these days. Collectible plates. Collectible limited edition prints (limited to the number they think they can sell). Collectible salt-shakers, etc.

Let’s be honest: what isn’t collectible? If a fellow decides he’s going to hoard those plastic rings you pull off the milk cap, that has suddenly become a collectible—to that guy, anyway.

And just because something is called collectible in an advertisement, that doesn’t make it … oh, wait. The thesis of my last two paragraphs was that anything can be collectible, so I can’t very well spend this paragraph saying those things aren’t collectible. They may be collectible, what they might not be—and might not ever be—is valuable.

So the Smytheville-Sudburry Mint of Flintridge, AK, is only going to produce 18,000 copies of this plate which lovingly depicts the historic moment that Richard Nixon shook hands with one of Lassie’s stunt doubles (who was not only not a female, he wasn’t even—in the most technical sense—a dog [but you knew that about Nixon anyway, right?]), that doesn’t mean it will ever increase in value, especially if there aren’t enough people who are sufficiently interested to purchase the plates and create scarcity to begin with.

Go ahead and diagram that last sentence. I dare ya!

Anyway, we all know someone who claims to have had a Mickey Mantle rookie card or a Spider-Man #1 but it got misplaced or their mom threw it out when they went off to state-sponsored boarding school. Never mind the fact that Mickey’s face was all but obliterated by being clothes-pinned to a bicycle wheel so it would make that cool sound we all loved and would, therefore, be worth nothing even if still owned, what makes Mickey Mantle rookie cards so valuable is that so few of them did survive.

So, if someone somewhere produces ten thousand copies of a given collectible and, twenty years on, there are still ten thousand copies of it in existence, all in good shape, they probably have not increased in value. Of course, you could sneak into the houses of the other owners and smash or steal their collectible but while this might make your collected item increase in value, many local constabularies tend to prosecute such investment strategies.

If the Monmooth-St. Clory Casting House of Spudlick, Mississippi only makes 1000 commemorative statues of Nolan Ryan beating up new Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura (not the famous moment, but behind a bar in Grand Prairie) but can only sell five hundred of them … well, the value of that little “collectible” is never going to go up. Collectibles, as an investment strategy, are about on par with piling your money up in the backyard and setting fire to it. Which, with our local burn bans, can be an even more expensive proposition than you would have originally thought.

Now, don’t get the idea that I am down on collecting. You almost can’t see my office for all the Snoopy stuff in it. I’m just saying that I find all the stuff currently being marketed as “collectible” is really pushing the envelope of credibility.

On the other hand, that snowglobe with the Enterprise from the movies is pretty darn cool. I just want to know if I have to buy the whole set.