Collecting Historical Memorabilia and Documents

History is a fickle teacher: ignore it, and you are doomed to repeat it. Saving history, on the other hand, is a worthwhile — and sometimes profitable — endeavor. One way to do this is to buy historical memorabilia and documents. While some historical memorabilia belongs in museums for the public to enjoy, you can still own a piece of history that aligns with your interests.

Goldin Auctions, for example, is hosting a special live auction of Jackie Robinson’s original, signed contracts on November 16.  These are historically important documents — for America in general, for baseball fans and for the Civil Rights Movement. The auction, to take place on November 16, 2017, provides you the opportunity to buy historical memorabilia, assuming you have the extensive funding required.

Or Start with Less Expensive Items

Few collectors have the $36 million or more needed to buy Robinson’s contracts. If you’re interested, though, you can still buy historical memorabilia; you just have to start with smaller or less valuable items. You don’t have to rifle through the bargain bin at your nearby antique store; historical auctions like those held by Goldin Auctions take place throughout the year.

You can buy historical memorabilia like old-time, game-worn uniforms. You can find historical documents that pique your interest, such as letters signed by past U.S. Presidents, statesmen or celebrities. You can spend hundreds or thousands instead of millions — and still have something that may increase in value over time.

Tips for Collecting Historical Memorabilia

While collecting history isn’t as popular as collecting baseball cards, the potential of the hobby as investment is remarkable. Most historical memorabilia or documents are singularly unique. Each one is valued on its own merits, according to both the person(s) involved and the age of the relic. If you want to start a historical collection, follow these tips:

  • Be objective when buying or selling. If you’re collecting, it’s a passion, an interest. But if your money is involved, be realistic about price and value. If you’re looking at a purchase as an investment, don’t become emotionally attached to it.
  • Learn the marketplace. While supply and demand always drive price, this is a market that’s still relatively new. Discover what’s in demand and then find it. While high-end items are often auctioned, you may still find reasonably priced gems in many other places, from garage sales to eBay.
  • Deal with verifiable sources. In every market, there are cheats. Protect yourself and your investment by dealing with authenticatable sources like Goldin Auctions. Know what you’re getting before you put your money down.
  • Remember that quality always matters. A mint gem baseball card brings more than a folded, abused version of the same card. The same is true when you buy historical memorabilia. For the best return on your investment, purchase museum-quality items.
  • Decide where your interest lies. History is expansive. Are you a war buff? A baseball fan? A signature collector? Decide and then learn all you can about that particular niche. Tried-and-true markets, like baseball or rock-and-roll memorabilia, are the most stable.
  • Be ready to ride the wave. Just like the stock market, prices on historical memorabilia and documents change over time. The price of Michael Jackson’s autograph, for example, rose 1,000 percent from 2000 to 2013.

Buy what interests you and/or what you think is a good investment. If it’s valuable enough or old enough, it may increase in price. Buy historical memorabilia and documents like you buy baseball cards.