What to Know when Buying Collectibles
Collectors put a great deal of time and money into their hobby, or, for some, their investment and most know the importance of provenance and how to avoid scams. For the novice collector just starting out, however, learning how to spot scams is important. Celebrity memorabilia, sports memorabilia, art, antiques, high-end watches and many other collectibles all can be faked leaving the unwary collector with a worthless item and a lot less cash.
Part of avoiding scams is common sense. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Celebrity memorabilia, for example, is one of the most popular types of collectibles. Fraudulent sites abound with amazing deals, but with these items being in such high demand, those kinds of “steals” are usually fraudulent.
Reputable dealers such as high-end pawn shops and auction houses are less likely to sell you something fraudulent. Most will have done the research and established provenance before they purchased the item to resell. If they can’t show you paperwork, then don’t buy the item.
Do your research! You’re about to spend a lot of money on this item so take the time to find out everything you can about it. Of course you want to start by asking the seller for documentation, but in some cases it may be wise to go further. For instance, if you’re buying fine art you can look at stolen art databases, auction house records, and museum records. If you’re buying sports memorabilia, research the history of the player or the team and make sure the item you’re purchasing makes sense with the history. Remember, documents can be faked and taking a few extra precautions can’t hurt.
Finally, it’s important to remember, once you’ve made your purchase, to hang on to the documentation you have. The piece of paper that came with the antique high-end watch you just purchased is just as important as the watch itself should you one day decide to sell or take out a high end pawn loan. Counterfeiting is something of a big business, and savvy buyers will want proof that what you’re trying to sell is authentic.