A Beginners Guide to Collecting

A Beginners Guide to Collecting


By: Toby Stoffa, Owner, Antiquities

Welcome to our content series designed to help collectors buy what they love, love what they buy, and maximize the personal enjoyment of their memorabilia. At Antiquities, we believe that collecting should be a source of happiness, which is why we want to share our expertise to help collectors find not only treasures, but also joy along the way. In this first post, we explore what to do before you buy.

Maybe you’re daydreaming about how to spend your tax return. Perhaps you recently unearthed your old baseball card collection and are feeling nostalgic. Or it could be that you just finished binge watching Mark Hamill's Pop Culture Quest and have an urge to purchase a piece of memorabilia. Whatever the case, if you’ve decided to collect, choose something you love. Choose something that triggers a memory. Choose something that is “you.” Because collecting is not about stuff. Yes, memorabilia can sometimes increase in value, but you should buy an item because you want to live with it and enjoy it. Because you love the rush you get when you are searching for the perfect “find”. And because there’s no comparison for how you feel when you see, touch and experience it.

For me, the concept of “the joy of collecting” calls to mind a man and woman who secretly got each other a holiday gift at Antiquities. She bought him a restored vintage bumper car and he chose a restored jukebox for her. They called me on Christmas morning to say they were sitting in the bumper car in their game room, while listening to their jukebox. Forty years ago, they had met on a music-playing bumper car ride. Their gifts brought them back to that moment in time in a way they had never imagined was possible.

What moves, inspires or touches you? A film aficionado might find it thrilling to collect signed posters or photos of favorite movies of the past. A music lover may collect autographed guitars and albums from certain periods in his or her life or from special concerts attended. A history buff can feel pride decorating office walls with the icons of business, while also discovering that the images add a level of dignity and trust to the establishment.

Once you have found something you love, it’s important to work with someone who you trust, who understands what you want, and who will provide professional expertise and the highest level of customer service.

As you work with a memorabilia store or reseller, you’ll want to carefully consider the properties used to restore or present the items in which you are interested. Some key exploratory questions include:

  • How do I know that the autograph is authentic? When shopping for autographed memorabilia, one of the first things collectors should do is narrow their search to items that have been scientifically certified by a real court and board approved expert. Hobbiest who have no professional qualifications will not stand the test of time, while board qualified examiners will stand behind their opinions and be able to defend their opinions.

  • How will my piece be protected? If it’s framed, you know it will be kept flat and dust-free, and you also want to check the quality of the mounting boards and mats and verify that framing techniques are acid-free museum quality, archival framing to prevent disintegration.

  • Is that machine restored inside and out? A good rule of thumb is purchasing from a company like Antiquities who has done professional restoration for 30 years. If it is something you plan to use, you'll want to ensure it will continue to work long after its purchase, so a warranty should be provided of 3 to 6 months minimum on a restored antique or collectable. And if it is something you plan to use, you’ll want to ensure it will continue to work long after its purchase.

We will explore these quality, authentication condition considerations in more detail in our next article on Making an Offer. So you won’t miss a post in this educational Antiquities series on collecting for beginners, sign up for our newsletter (at the bottom of this page), or follow us on facebook and Twitter.

14th Jul 2021

Recent Posts

We lead the way in celebrity memorabilia specializing in movies, music,television and history. We lead the way in celebrity memorabilia specializing in movies, music,television and history.