Mad Men kick starts the market for nostalgic 1960s memorabilia investments

Tonight sees the return of Mad Men and everyone's favourite ad agency led by creative director and complex anti hero Don Draper.

With viewing figures in the US and UK reaching record levels, it's not difficult to see the nostalgic appeal of Mad Men's visually authentic depiction of 1960s life in the upper east side of Manhattan.

All the characters smoke, a fully stocked drinks cabinet can be found in every office and each of the characters looks as though they've been cut straight out of a vintage copy of Life magazine.

For many fans, one of the real triumphs of the show has been this startling attention to detail. It's a detail found in the furniture, fashion and dialogue of the time and remains consistent throughout.  

Collectibles from the show have already started to gain attention from collectors. August 2010 saw a special charity auction on eBay of furniture and costumes used during the show's first three series.

One highlight was a 1960s drinks bar that featured prominently in the offices of ad agency "Cooper Sterling," most commonly during morning meetings. The piece sold for £2,120 ($3,250), having received an impressive 44 bids. 

Furniture & props from 'Mad Men' sold at auction last month
Elsewhere a green dress from the period worn by the show's stand out female lead Christina Hendricks sold for £865 ($1,324).

Interestingly, the sale highlighted not only the popularity of the era, but also the growing potential of an investment in these nostalgic 1960s era American collectibles.

Journalist Doug Larson once described nostalgia in the following terms:

"Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days"

For collectors, nostalgia can play a huge part in an investment. Whether it's a sports collectible from your childhood or simply a poster of your favourite film, these collectibles serve as reminders of a hazy, forgotten era when life seemed simpler and somehow better.

And with Mad Men effectively replicating the feel of the 1960s on screen, many collectors could soon be looking towards an investment in the real collectibles of the era.

With around 90,000 UK and US retirees emerging every week with high levels of disposable income, the show could soon become a nostalgic tool to motivate investment in the interests of their youth.

For now the good news is there's never been a better time to consider investing.

Take classic cars like Don Draper's 1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville for instance. According to NADA price guide data, a mint condition version of the car would retail today at £9,300 ($14,280), having originally been sold at £3,480 ($5,340) back in the 1960s.

Renewed interest in this model could see this price double over the next decade, as fans look to replicate their favourite show.

It wouldn't be the first time either, with one recent auction recording the sale of the famous blue 'Dharma Initiative' van that featured prominently in ABC's Lost.

The Chevrolet Corvette C2

The difference here being that these cars are easier to find, have a history of good returns on an investment and offer a higher quality drive to their owner.

Other classic cars from America continue to lead the way in the market with 1960s models in particular offering fruitful returns.

A 1963 Chevrolet Corvette C2 was launched with a price of £3,323 ($4,950). Today, a top of the range model is worth £42,500 ($65,250).

And whilst the classic cars and clothes of the programme offer various investment opportunities, the show also conjures up nostalgia through the use of famous television broadcasts. 

One critically acclaimed episode centred on the reactions of the character at home, to the unfolding events of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

On the current market, JFK memorabilia is already witnessing astonishing prices at auction.

In December 2009, Jack Ruby's famous hat sold for £35,180 ($54,000). Whilst currently on the market, signed documents from Kennedy are for sale at £2,750 ($4,220).

The death of Marilyn Monroe also featured in an early episode of the programme. 

Monroe remains one of the most sought after figures amongst memorabilia investors, with one collector paying £16,300 ($25,000) for an x-ray of her chest. The sale was all the more astonishing given that it was 20 times

Marilyn Monroe's bra
the estimate of £780 ($1,200).

Today, fans can still find classic pieces like a black mesh bra, belonging to Monroe for £9,500 ($15,675).

And as the series progresses, collectors investing in 1960s American collectibles may consider nostalgic pieces from later in the decade.

With the show currently set in 1965, it's not inconceivable to think that the Apollo 11 moon landings of 1969 could feature at some point. The current world record price for Apollo 11 memorabilia is set at £212,000 for a celestial space chart.

Today, a set of three photographs signed by Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin are worth £6,500 ($10,725). In a few years time, these nostalgic investments are likely to see greater returns, especially if featured on a weekly primetime US drama series.

The most important thing to remember is that much of the nostalgic effect of Mad Men is coming retrospectively. DVD sales and word of mouth has seen interest soar over the past few years. In just four series, viewing figures have increased 224%.

As such, an investment in nostalgic 1960s American collectibles at the current entry level prices could have you pouring a scotch in celebration. Just make sure it's not too early in the day. It's not the '60s anymore.


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