Collectors want two things: to treasure items that make them happy and, if they are lucky, to collect something right before it becomes a super-hot collectible. What should be the No. 1 reason for starting a collection? Find stuff you love. Keep it. Display it. Love it.
Sometimes, though, collectors go awry and buy things that they think will become more valuable with time. That plan rarely works. Words to avoid: “Collector’s Edition” and “Special Edition.” And if there are lines of people snatching up the “newest thing” (Tickle Me Elmo and Cabbage Patch Dolls come to mind), run far away.
Here are some things that you should only collect if they make you happy. They are not worth a lot of money and are not rare.
Beanie Babies: In the late 1990s, a $5 toy mass-produced in China became such a big craze that people — mostly adults — paid thousands of dollars to collect them. But only a few years after Beanie Babies made their creator Ty Warner a billionaire, the stuffed animals became virtually worthless.
Danish Christmas plates: Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grondahl blue Christmas plates are pretty, but only the early 1900s plates are valuable. Most made before 2000 sell for $10 to $20 apiece; examples made after 2000 are $10 each at flea markets and antiques stores, way below what they originally cost.
Silver-plated serving pieces and tea sets: Sets were found in every home at one time but have gone out of fashion. They sell at bargain prices in resale shops.
Lady head vases: These used to be very hot, especially when icon Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis owned one. At just about any antiques show you’ll find them under $100 unless they are one of the celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis or Princess Diana.
McDonald’s Happy Meal toys: Talk about a flooded market! Every kid loved to buy a McDonald’s meal and get a free toy with it. They are not worth a lot of money, except for rare ones still in the packaging, like the 1983 Hot Wheels cars. Overall, not worth collecting.