Historic collectibles - great investments: 'Why History will always be in fashion...'
From Custer's last flag to Robert Kennedy's Abraham Lincoln autograph... Historical collectibles are 'in'
Memorabilia prices have beaten the stock markets, housing markets and price of gold over the last 10 years. Given their past performance, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the memorabilia markets are due a breather...
But here we are: another week in the final quarter of 2010 and the collectibles markets have seen yet more World Record sale prices. What's more, the items sold are some of the greatest to emerge on the market this year.
My personal favourite went to auction described as "the most significant and symbolic artefact recovered from the Little Bighorn Battlefield": an American flag flown by General George Custer's Battalion. In the end, it sold for a World Record price of $2.2m.
Today, the Battle of Little Bighorn is regarded as the central event of the Indian Wars. This flag (pictured below) was carried by Company C which was captained by Thomas Custer himself. It's the only one in private hands - yet that only goes part way to explaining why it sold for so much...
You see, the thing about history is that it never goes out of fashion. People will, of course, always be interested in past events. Yet the number of historic items is in a spiral of decline.
Some collections are donated to museums in return for generous tax-breaks (as with two of 14 flags carried by Custer's Seventh Cavalry at Little Bighorn). Other historical items have been lost or damaged over the years.
Whilst the availability of these pieces declines, the demand for them increases. As a result these unique items are achieving huge prices at auction. And it's not just Custer's flag...
Intimate photographs of President John F Kennedy brought $150,000 in New York earlier this month, while another World Record price was scored by an Emancipation Declaration signed by Abraham Lincoln. It was previously owned by JFK's brother, Robert F Kennedy.
Or, for buyers who don't want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, how about the historic US Stars and Stripes flag with just 13 stars which sold for $10,500, also this week?
You don't need me to tell you that there are no guarantees in the financial world. Yet, as investible assets, the collectors who bought Custer's last flag and Bobby Kennedy's political document can feel confident that future buyers will always be interested.
I mean, the fascination of owning something of which there may be only half a dozen examples in the world should ensure that wealthy buyers and institutions will want to own these pieces. What's more, these pieces are portable and can act as "international currency"...
And, bearing in mind that we're now in the final month of 2010, you can bet that more items of this calibre will be cropping up on the markets throughout 2011. The New Year promises to be a great one for collectors - and there could be no better time for you to invest.
All the best, until next week