'Investing in historical memorabilia: there's no time like the present'

"History is always written wrong, and so always needs to be rewritten" - the Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana

Reading this made me think of another quote, by the bestselling American travel writer William Least Heat-Moon: "Historical awareness is a kind of resurrection."

Both of these truisms are especially relevant to the collectibles markets.

As history is constantly reappraised and new facts shed light on the past, this can throw up new objects of value and many new opportunities for you as an investor.

I was reminded of this by the anniversary of the Apollo 15 Moon landing, this week. By the time of the 1971 mission, public enthusiasm for the space programme - and the optimism of the 1960s - had waned.

This signed photo of Apollo 15 Commander David Scott was sold by
Paul Fraser Collectibles earlier this year (Click here to find out more)


As a result, even today, Moonwalker David Scott and James Irwin aren't household names like history's first-ever lunar explorers, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

But this will surely change as the significance of Apollo 15 is reappraised - in much the same way the Apollo 13 near-disaster was publicised by the 1996 blockbuster movie starring Tom Hanks.

With this future potential in mind, Apollo 15 memorabilia offers plenty of opportunities to savvy collectors - especially at today's market prices, before the values appreciate.

For instance, Apollo 15 Commander David Scott isn't only the seventh person to walk on the Moon. He is also the first person to drive on the Moon, and the last person to fly solo in orbit around the Earth.

What's more, as countries like China bring in a new era of space exploration, the significance of David Scott's life achievements will rise in estimation. And so will the values of his memorabilia.

Currently, the value of Scott's signature (pictured above) is vastly underrated compared to Armstrong's. The latter's 'One small step for man...' speech, handwritten by Armstrong on an Apollo 11 flight plan, sold for an incredible $152,000, earlier this year.

On the other hand, according to the industry's PFC40 Autograph Index, Armstrong's autograph has risen in value by 900% over the past decade. So there is clearly potential for an increase in value with Scott's autograph.

Just think, what could Scott's signature on a historically important document, like the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty for instance, be worth in years to come?

Elsewhere this week, another previously unknown piece of history emerged on the markets: an autographed 1862 French language edition of the Irish poet Oscar Wilde's (1854-1900) controversial play, Salomé.

This previously unknown Oscar Wilde first edition was a big hit at
auction (You can read our full report here)

Not only did the book "come from nowhere" in the words of auctioneer Dominic Winter (it was discovered in a Parisian woman's loft) the inside inscription, by Wilde himself, is also highly significant.

"… Gustave Moreau, Hommage respectueux, Oscar Wilde."

The note confirms the influence of the French Symbolist painter on Wilde's play - and only scant evidence to confirm this influence can be found elsewhere.

So, history has once again been slightly rewritten - and this time by a collectible. What's more, the inscription contributed to the first edition of Salomé selling for an incredible £34,000 ($46,000) in Dominic Winter's auction.

This is a great example of how newly-revealed or reappraised history can produce value in the collectibles markets - and the markets are throwing up new opportunities all the time.

This weekend, a block of four "Elephant" Design Plate stamp proofs will go under the hammer at Interasia in Hong Kong. They could have been China's first-ever stamps, before the design was rejected back in 1877-1878 in favour of a dragon.

As a result, what was once-upon-a-time a forgotten piece of history is now one of the most sought-after philatelic items on the market. The stamps will appear at Interasia with an estimate of $51,488 to $64,360.

This is comparable to an autograph which sold earlier this year: signed by George Washington, aged just 18, on an innocuous land survey dated 1750-51.

Centuries later, that same signature became recognised as the oldest known signature by the US President in private hands - and it was sold for £60,000 ($90,000), earlier this year.

In the same way, history has added value to the Elephant 5 cash black stamp.

And these trends will also apply to today's inexpensive memorabilia - like a signature by the UK's first-ever female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, which can be yours for just £350.

That signature may be worth a three-figure sum today, but Thatcher's legacy as one of the 20th century's most significant politicians is assured. Like Winston Churchill's memorabilia today, the Iron Lady's collectibles could be worth far more in years to come.

And what's most exciting about the impact of 'historical awareness' on collectibles prices is that the great investment opportunities are out there for you right now.

Memorabilia values are rising, and its only a matter of time before, in the words of William Least Heat-Moon, they become 'resurrected'.

There really is no better time than the present for you to get involved.


Happy collecting!




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