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A collectable (collectible or collector's item) is any object regarded as being of value or interest to a collector (not necessarily monetarily valuable or antique). There are numerous types of collectables and terms to denote those types. An antique is a collectable that is old. A curio is a small, usually fascinating or unusual item sought after by collectors. A manufactured collectable is an item made specifically for people to collect.
The business of collectables
Created to be collected
A "manufactured" collectable (often referred to as a contemporary collectable) is an item made specifically for people to collect. The terms special edition, limited edition and variants such as deluxe edition, collector's edition and others, fall under the category of manufactured collectable and are used as a marketing incentive for various kinds of products, originally published products related to the arts, such as books, prints or recorded music and films, but now including cars, fine wine and other collectables. A limited edition is restricted is extra material of some kind included. Some companies that produce manufactured collectables are members of The Gift and Collectibles Guild.
Collectables in commerce
Manufacturers and retailers have used collectables in a number of ways to increase sales. One use is in the form of licensed collectables based on intellectual properties, such as images, characters and logos from literature, music, movies, radio, television, and video games. A large subsection of licensing includes advertising, brandname, and character collectibles. Another use of collectables in retail is in the form of prizes (items of nominal value packaged with or included in the price of a retail product at no additional cost) and premiums (items that can be "purchased" by redeeming coupons, boxtops, or proofs of purchase from the product along with a small fee to cover shipping and handling). Also, collectables have played an important role in tourism, in the form of souvenirs. Another important field of collecting that is also big business is memorabilia, which includes collectables related to a person, organization, event or media, including T-shirts, posters, and numerous other collectables marketed to fans; but also includes ephemera from historical, media, or entertainment events, items that were meant to be thrown away but were saved by fans and accumulated by collectors.
Collectables as investments
Collectables are items of limited supply that are sought for a variety of reasons including a possible increase in value. In a financial sense, collectables can be viewed as a hedge against inflation. Over time, their value can also increase as they become more rare due to loss, damage or destruction. One drawback to investing in collectables is the potential lack of liquidity, particularly for very obscure items. There is also a risk for fraud.
The urge to collect unusual and fascinating objects is primeval and not limited to humans.
The Renaissance Cabinet of Curiosities was an antecedent both of modern museums and modern collecting.
The earliest manufactured collectables were included as incentives with other products, such as cigarette cards in packs of cigarettes. Popular items developed a secondary market and sometimes became the subject of "collectable crazes". Eventually many collectable items came to be sold separately, instead of being used as marketing tools to increase the appeal of other products.
To encourage collecting, manufacturers often create an entire series of a given collectable, with each item differentiated in some fashion. Examples include sports cards depicting individual players, or different designs of Beanie Babies. Enthusiasts will often try to assemble a complete set of the available variations.
Early versions of a product, manufactured in smaller quantities before its popularity as a collectable developed, sometimes command exorbitant premiums on the secondary market. Dolls and other toys made during an adult collector's childhood can command such premiums. Unless extremely rare or made as a one-of-a-kind, in a mature market, collectables rarely prove to be a spectacular investment.
- "Collectable". TheFreeDictionary.com. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- "Definitions for collectable". Synonym.com. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- "Curio". TheFreeDictionary.com. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- Danziger, Pamela (July 1, 2004). Why people buy things they don't need: understanding and predicting consumer behavior. Kaplan Publishing.
- Museum of the Personal: the souvenir and nostalgia, Chapter 4 — What is a souvenir? Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- TheFreeDictionary.com: Financial Dictionary: Collectables
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