If a joke needs explanation, it tends to lose much of its humour.
It's the same in the collectibles business.
If you need to explain just why a particular collectible is important or desirable, chances are the majority of people will be left unimpressed.
And that means the vast majority of the public would have no interest in buying it.
Yet if your item has sufficient instantaneous mainstream appeal it is opening itself up to the largest number of potential buyers - a key factor in receiving a strong return in the mid- to long-term.
Ask yourself one question
So if you're about to buy a collectible with the intention of selling for a profit in the future you need to ask yourself:
"Does it have the immediate wow factor?"
Imagine showing off a collectible to a friend.
Ideally one look at the item, without you saying a word, would be enough to illicit the all-important "wow" from your pal.
I would put items such as Marilyn Monroe's Seven Year Itch Dress - immediately recognisable around the world - in this category.
It sold for $5.6m in 2011.
A close second-best scenario would be the necessity of a short line of introduction, as you unveil your collectible. Something along the lines of: "Neil Armstrong took this to Moon/Charles Dickens signed this/Princess Diana wore this."
But if you need to start explaining who the person or event was, or why that particular person or event is important, think twice before buying.
Because you will be narrowing the number of interested buyers for your item considerably should you wish to sell in the future.
An exception that proves the rule
There are exceptions.
The rarest items on the stamp market have historically offered strong price appreciation, despite the fact that the majority of the public could only name one famous stamp, if that. Here, the fanaticism of philatelists, and their large numbers by collecting standards (an estimated 50m) ensures good outcomes for investors.
We like to think that many of our finest pieces for sale have the necessary "wow" factor to offer superb investment potential, not forgetting the considerable pleasure of owning incredible pieces of history.
Here's one to get you started.
You'll find several more in our store.
Until next week,
+44 (0)117 933 9500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.