From Twilight's teen vampires to Elvis's hair: the curious world of Collectibles

In May this year, Robert Pattinson, the star of the "Twilight" teen vampire film saga that's been breaking box office records, reported a rather unusual theft.

According to a spokesman for "R-Patz":

"Robert has had his hair cut short for a movie role but his discarded hair has gone missing!"

While the hair has yet to re-surface, the strong suspicion is that it could soon be coming to auction.

And if it does appear at auction, it could prove to be one of the collectible investments of the year.

That's because hair is the new must-have unique item of the celebrity collectibles market with collectors already paying thousands for famous strands of brown, blonde and black.

Many of you, whether collectors or investors, will be new to the idea of collecting hair, but it's an area of collecting that has been slowly building up for over 100 years.

Napoleon's Lock of Hair

In June 2010, one auction in New Zealand witnessed the sale of a lock of hair dating back to 1821. It was cut from the head of former French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, on the day of his death.

Carried in a 67mm diameter case for 189 years, the piece had a pre-auction estimate of £5,300 ($8,000), yet sold for £8,900 ($13,200).

American history is also touched upon in the unique hair market of collectibles.

Dating back to 1782, over two hundred years ago, was a bundle of hair belonging to Martha Jefferson, the beloved wife of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.

At Christie's in January 2010, this hair, within a watch key, came up for sale with a pre-auction estimate of £53,300 ($80,000).

Arguably one of the most famous incidents in collectibles history also occurred at the barbers. It was here that Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, discovered that his hair clippings were being sold for up to $3,000. In May 2005, Armstrong threatened his barber, Marx Sizemore, with legal action and from that day forth, he refused to sign any autographs.

Today, the hair from this incident, along with the scissors and comb used by Sizemore can be bought for £35,000 ($52,500). This is due to Armstrong's status as the first man on the moon, coupled with the significance of the piece.

Most valuable hair on the market comes from a finite source i.e. someone that has passed away.

Hair from some of the most iconic individuals of the 20th century has fetched astonishing prices at auction, thanks to a combination of the "James Dean" effect of their early demise and also the unique status of the collectibles themselves.

Che Guevara's Hair

Take Ernesto "Che" Guevara for instance.

In October 2007, a lock of his hair went up for sale.

 Believed to have been cut from his head following his death in the jungles of Bolivia, the lot was sold with a scrapbook and hand written note for £77,100 ($119,500) to a Houston bookstore owner.

If you were not already convinced by the value of these collectibles, you may wish to know that Guevara's hair currently holds the world record price for a single piece of memorabilia from the Cuban revolution.

Hair from the icons of music has also proven to be some of the most valuable memorabilia on the market, with many collectors investing to these highly unique and personal pieces.

On December 12 2009, Gorringes auction house put a lock of John Lennon's hair up for sale with an estimate of £2,500 - 4,000 ($4,000-$6,000). The hair came with a message too:

"To Betty, Lots of Love and Hair, John Lennon xx"

Originally gifted to The Beatles hairdresser, Betty Glasow, the item sold for £32,000 ($48,000), six times the estimated price.

Yet the King of the collectible hair market remains "the King" himself.

Elvis Presley
Elvis's Hair can be bought today

In November 2002, a small jar of hair clippings from Mr. Elvis Presley sold for $115,000 (approximately, £75,000 at the time).

Since then, a single strand of his hair sold for £1,055 ($1,750) against an estimate of £250 ($420) in Wiltshire in November 2009.

Despite that £1,055 realisation, strands of Elvis's hair are available for as little as £795 ($1,200)from Paul Fraser Collectibles, one of the world's largest stockists of celebrity hair.

The hair comes from the famous 1958 haircut that was forced on Presley after signing up for military service.

The key to investing in collectible hair is to try and identify those pieces of particular significance.

A few years ago, Paul Fraser Collectibles obtained a clump of hair from Michael Jackson.

The hair was particularly significant given that it was part of a famous incident in which the hair of Jackson became burnt during the filming of a 1984 Pepsi commercial. Producer Ralph Cohen put out the blaze using his jacket, and later discovered 12 hairs belonging to the King of Pop. 

At the time Richard Davie, the auctioneer, said:

"This memorabilia has doubled in price since Michael Jackson died. Jackson has huge global appeal with collectors all around the world.

Of all the things he has done...the hair-burning incident stands out.

There will be lots of people who will want to buy these items as souvenirs and those who would like them as investments."

Today, the hair could be worth even more, with recent documentaries pointing to the burns suffered by Jackson during the 1984 incident as the beginning of his tragic obsession with plastic surgery and his eventual health problems.

Stranger still was the news from a company called LifeGem, who announced plans to make jewellery from another piece of Jackson hair. Their founder said:

"Our plan is to give people an opportunity to own a diamond made from Michael Jackson's DNA,"

The end result could bring a whole new dimension to the collectibles market.

Collectible hair has certainly shown itself to be a worthy investment. However, it is important that collectors and investors alike know what to look for.

Celebrity hair is achieving high prices at auction, though collectors must try to ensure that any collected comes from a truly iconic source like John Lennon, Elvis or Michael Jackson. Or the historical figures like Lord Nelson and George Washington which are also held in stock by Paul Fraser Collectibles.

The trick is to identify those stars whose hair has the potential to increase in value thanks to their longevity and popular appeal.

These factors are what have made Elvis's hair such an excellent investment.

So, whoever does have Robert Pattinson's hair may want to keep a close eye on his career, otherwise it could be a case of valuable hair today, gone tomorrow.


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