Margaret Thatcher and why 'divisive = collectible'

Reading the coverage of Margaret Thatcher's death this week, one word comes up more often than others: Divisive.

From a collectibles standpoint, the political figures who are most divisive during their time in the spotlight tend to lead prices in the memorabilia market.

That's because they stir the emotions.

They force people to have opinions.

They engender strong feelings of hatred or adoration long after they have left the scene.

Demand for their memorabilia flourishes.

Margaret Thatcher signed photograph
Thatcher - divisive yet desirable?

I'm thinking of people such as Martin Luther King, who although widely revered around the world today, was seen by many in the 1950s and 1960s as a dangerous, and divisive man.

Today, his importance to racial equality in the US and around the world ensures his memorabilia is in great demand.

The same could be said of Abraham Lincoln and Fidel Castro. Is Castro the man who stood up to America, or the ruler of an oppressive, murderous regime?

And it's important to note that it's not just their admirers that will collect pieces.

Let's not forget that the Jewish community is the largest collector of Hitler memorabilia - an indication that people who have suffered terribly at the hands of a leader are keen that the story of those times is not forgotten.

From Monet to Hirst

It's not just in the political sphere that divisive figures are big business in collectibles. Damien Hirst is an artist who divides opinion because his works are so daring and innovative.

The same can be said for the pioneers of other art movements, such as impressionists Monet and Renoir, cubist Picasso or surrealist Dali.

Then, their work was so divisive because it was such an exciting contrast with what preceded it.

Today, their work is loved because it signifies a break with the traditions that went before, and because in breaking with those traditions, they created something truly special.

Elvis and the Beatles are two prime examples from the world of music.

If you're collecting with a view to making a profit, keep an eye on those famous names who split opinion when they were in their heyday - they could offer you healthy rewards.

You will find items connected with many of these divisive figures for sale in our store.

And as for Thatcher?

In the short term I can see values for her memorabilia soaring.

Long term, despite her historical position as the first female British prime minister, I would like to hold judgement. The passing decades may see the memory of her triumphs (or tyranny) fade.

Until next week,


Paul Fraser

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