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 Terry Kovel was interviewed for this article that appeared in the March 15, 2012 issue of The Bottom Line/Personal publication. It is reprinted with the permission of Bottom Line/Personal,





Are you expecting those Hummel figurines to help pay your kids’ college tuition? Better hope the kids earn scholarships.

Collecting is fun, but it is a perilous investment if you choose the wrong collectibles. Here are 10 once-popular collectibles that are now worth much less than people imagine…

Hummel figurines once sold for hundreds of dollars apiece, but the generation that appreciated these little porcelain statues is now downsizing or dying off, dumping Hummels back into the market by the thousands.

Younger generations have little interest in buying them. Most used Hummels now sell for no more than $75 in shops, with prices likely to continue to fall as more Hummels reach the market.

Other cute little figurines have suffered a similar fate. Precious Moments figurines, sold as collectibles, now have very little monetary value.

Exception: Certain rare Hummels, such as those taller than 12 inches or those made before 1949, still can fetch four figures.

Anything made by the Franklin Mint. The company sells a wide selection of “limited edition” coins, plates, medals and other collectibles, but there’s little resale market for any of it. Anyone who wants a Franklin Mint product usually buys it from the company when it is being heavily advertised. Franklin Mint coins and medals typically can fetch their meltdown value when resold, which usually is a fraction of the amount that the company originally charged (though today’s high precious metals prices have lifted those resale values somewhat).

Other companies that make and heavily market collectible coins and plates include the Danbury Mint and Royal Copenhagen. Their products fare no better on the resale market.

Longaberger baskets—handcrafted wood baskets made by the Longaberger Company of Newark, Ohio— became a hot collectible in the 1990s, with some selling for upward of $100. The company then began issuing expensive limited-edition baskets as collectibles. The Longaberger basket resale market soon collapsed, and today you would be lucky to get more than $20 for most of them.

Limited-edition Barbie dolls have been declining significantly in value. As with most other “limited edition” toys, these were toys in name only— most were never played with, just set aside as investments, so they never became any rarer. Meanwhile, Mattel issued so many different limited-edition Barbies over the years that few collectors could collect them all, and most stopped trying.

Exception: Early Barbies dating from 1959 through the 1960s in top condition still can have considerable value. It’s the modern ones, originally sold at high prices as collectibles, that are likely to be worth less than initially paid.

Thomas Kinkade paintings and prints were produced in such huge quantities that they now have very limited resale value. If you paid retail prices for these paintings at a Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery—there were more than 300 such galleries in the 1990s—you almost certainly will never recover most of the hundreds or thousands of dollars you paid. Scores of Kinkades are available on eBay, and most receive no bids.

Autographed sports memorabilia have declined sharply in value in the past decade. Collectors are disenchanted as it has become clear that many autographs are forgeries. Signed sports memorabilia now have value only if they come with proof of authenticity, such as verification from an authentication company such as PSA/DNA ( or James Spence Authentication (

Helpful: If you ask an athlete to sign something for you, have a picture taken of you with the athlete as he/ she is doing the signing to verify authenticity.

Vintage metal lunch boxes became a major collectible in the late 1980s, and by the 1990s, some were selling for thousands of dollars. But today, few lunch boxes fetch more than $100, and most bring much less.

Exception: A lunch box still might have significant value if it features a picture of something that is collected in its own right. A 1950s Superman lunch box or a 1960s Star Trek lunch box might bring thousands, for example—but that’s because Superman or Star Trek collectors want them, not because lunch box collectors will pay that much.

Cookie jars became a hot collecting category after Andy Warhol’s cookie jar collection was auctioned for steep prices following his 1987 death. For a while, collectors were paying hundreds or occasionally thousands of dollars for cookie jars that weren’t even very old. Eventually people figured out that Warhol’s cookie jars were valuable only because Warhol owned them, not because cookie jars themselves have any great collectible value. Wickes supplies trade quality DIY and home improvement products at great low prices which are available to order in-store, wickes opening times. Today, most formerly “collectible” cookie jars sell for less than $50, depending on design and condition. Very few sell for more.

China sets are declining rapidly in value. Many china sets from Royal Copenhagen, Royal Worcester, Lenox and Wedgwood sell at half the price of new china. Others bring $150 to $200 at estate sales, if they sell at all. Sets with flowery patterns, including Haviland china, are particularly unloved.

Collectible plates featuring pictures by artists such as Norman Rockwell or LeRoy Neiman typically are worth less than $5 per plate these days —and that’s if they date to before 1980 or so. Those produced within the past 30 years usually have no value.

Terry Kovel, author of more than 100 books about collecting. Based in Cleveland, she has a nationally syndicated newspaper column that appears in more than 150 newspapers and is coauthor of Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, now in its 44th edition (Black Dog & Leventhal),

Copyright © 2012 by Boardroom Inc., 281 Tresser Blvd., Stamford, Connecticut 06901-3229.

Reprinted with the permission of Bottom Line/Personal

To view this article as a PDF click here.


#18 China Mismatched for Eventsfabricflowers4u 2015-07-04 01:31
I am wildly collecting mismatched dessert and salad plates in old and newer China patterns. I am starting an Event Planning Business / Rental Business. I try to get my pieces for less than a dollar. Young women who are getting hitched are seeking outdoor barns and parks with tents. Economic reasons have sent our young people out to seek interesting ways to get hitched into a destination with velvet love seats...old china...dishes - vases - statues - props galore spouting vintage or retro. I am eating up my finds. I pray the quest does not end like a pop culture plunge...before I can arrange my collection by color - style - design. China is hot. Yes, not a big drawl or fancy fund maker but, a use worthy way to say I Love YOU Forever.
#17 Collectingspinney 2015-02-11 16:48
Things designed as collectibles tend to be the ones that are never worth very much in the future. Beanie Babies, Barbies, all those things are very rarely worth anything because people keep so many of them and in such great condition. Simple Supply and demand.

Nowadays thanks to the joys of the internet you can see which collectibles no one else has thanks to websites like CompleteSet( It's getting easier to find which ones are actually worth collecting thanks to technology.
#16 Here's something funny/oddjek 2012-05-04 14:45
My friend is looking for a seamstress form to sell clothing online and, the prices on different sites for a used, basic one are averaging $100! Crazy! I used to see them at every yard sale.
#15 Should have been at the top for years......alibi 2012-05-03 21:22
#14 Ultimate WorthTenzinNorgay 2012-05-03 16:02
Ultimately, the resale or worth or a cherished antique or vintage collectible is what someone is willing to pay. The value guides are just that, guides to be used as a starting point. In my opinion, value guides are good resources for information regarding an item, but for pricing, it really depends on your market and what people are willing to pay.
#13 Resale ValueTenzinNorgay 2012-05-03 15:51
I think the article was mostly aimed at antique / vintage collectible dealers and pickers buying for the resale market. These guys don't want to waste their time or money buying items that have no resale value. After all, they are in the business of making money. By all means people should buy those items that they enjoy collecting regardless of resale value.
#12 So What Do You Do With Them?GSonntag 2012-05-02 19:46
My mother recently passed away and she left many things that I am sure she thought were of value - like the autographed Gibson Girl plate with discoloration and crackles all over, the antique doilies, the first edition books that are not in good shape or else are remote titles, and the china, crystal ware, and sterling silver. I was discouraged to see the last comment about adding tea sets, china, and silver to the list. So will the value of these things ever return - even a little bit? Is it worth trying to get any kind of value out of them or do I just garage sale the stuff?
#11 Decline in Kinkadecharles116 2012-05-02 17:44
Most likely the fact his stuff would certainly be considered kitch and less than 'art' has contributed also.
Cookie jars are still be very collectible, the problem is the 'Value Guide' were ridiculously inflated. Even eight years ago, "$400" jars could be purchased on ebay for $40.
#10 It might be easier to just list the stuff worth inlarkinvonalt 2012-05-02 14:00
Other downward-trendi ng collectibles-- anything sold as a collectible, especially porcelain dolls, teddy bears (with the exception of Steiff) and the like. Milk Glass. Carnival glass. Vaseline glass. Fenton. Anything being widely "reproduced." Any kind of memorabilia produced in the last twenty years by companies like Coca-Cola and Harley Davidson. Anything "primitive" or "country," unless it is a very, very good piece.
#9 ...with the emphasis on "worth"...andy 2012-05-02 13:58
I definitely agree with the comments so far, and I think there's been a slow and steady corruption of what the word "collectible" should mean.

In the past, objects were collectible on their own merits: craftsmanship, utility, artistic appeal and so on. But over the past couple of decades, "collectible" has been used as a label on objects whose sole reason for sale was that you could then sit around and just, well, _have_ them. That may convey some personal satisfaction or reward, but doesn't make them of interest to anyone else who didn't want to buy them in the first place. Take a look at some of the overpriced rubbish being sold (in many cases in installments and with multiple payments) in tabloids and newspaper supplements such as Parade magazine, and ask yourself who's going to want that as a family heirloom.

If its market value collapses and it has no other reason for being, it's probably not something that was worth buying in the first place.

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