Start Now; Don't Delay | Page 12 | Newberry

Start Now; Don't Delay

Now, let us be frank with each other. If Uncle Blogsy were a whiz at investment, he would be preparing this blog from some palatial office while rented nymphs sprayed his fevered brow with verbena-scented spring water. I’ve never tried it, but I understand that verbena-scented water is excellent for cooling a brain overheated by genius. Or the nymphs.

But I wanted to talk to you a little more about collectibles. Anything, of course, is collectible if somebody collects it. What I wanted to discuss is COLLECTIBLES: the things you can collect for a little while and then sell for many, many times what you put out in the initial investment. These are not the same as mere collectibles.

The really big boldface all caps collectibles are NOT, as I have told you before, the things which are sold in ads which tell you how collectible they are. This kind of collectible either stays at exactly the purchase price, or goes down. An exception are those things made of solid gold or silver, but here you’re into the precious metals market, which makes other considerations somewhat irrelevant. (An original Cellini salt cellar of solid gold is worth more than the gold itself, but if you own such a thing, you don’t need advice from me anyhow.)

The collectibles we are talking about are things like that first issue of Action Comics featuring the debut of Superman, which people threw away or donated to World War II scrap drives, not knowing it would one day sell to the tune of six and even seven figure prices. It’s that Honus Wagner tobacco card, a little scrap of cardboard that was rare to begin with and STILL got thrown away, because why would anybody want it?

That’s the key, see. What other people are throwing away, you want to collect. Once people realize it’s a valuable souvenir of a bygone age, there won’t be many left, and you stand a good chance of cornering the market. By the looks of what you folks have been leaving in your books as bookmarks, I think I can identify a few areas you might care to look into. These things don’t take up much room (less than those cases of Billy Beer you bought back in 1979) and show promise for the future.

CABLE GUIDES: Issued by cable companies and high-rise buildings, these are booklets or sheets of paper listing the lineup of NINETEEN networks you’ll be able to watch in, say, the John Hancock Building this fall. Remember when cable was new, and the creation of a whole new network dedicated to cooking, or weather forecasts, or music videos was big news? Well, that era of wonderful nonsense is bound to be rediscovered soon, and these little scraps of optimism, with double stars to show you you will get BOTH HBO and Cinemax are a glimpse into bygone days.

INSTRUCTION MANUALS: Not just any ones, of course, but the manuals for those wild new telephones that don’t have cords. Once upon a time, we did not all have telephones in our pockets, and the technology was new and bizarre (and explained by writers for whom English was their third or fourth language.) Manuals for television remote controls will also be in demand one day, herring helper. (Or do I mean herring aid?) The day will come when the idea that you had to punch in a number to call up a network will be as novel as cranking a car to start it. Since we’ll all just punch the name of the network into the app on our phone, the remote control and its manual will be as quaint as buggy whips.

LOTTERY TICKETS: The Illinois Lottery is proud that this is its twentieth anniversary. How hard do you suppose it would be to assemble a complete set of the different ticket designs from, say, the 1990s? Not at all, really, if you flip through enough books at the Book Fair. The sheet they issued for filling in numbers for the Lotto drawings has gone through plenty of design changes as well: do you know anyone who had the foresight to keep an example of each one, filled in or unfilled.

Some people prefer instant tickets which have not been scratched off; those are much harder to come by. The winning ones are even harder to collect, and of course are the ones I’m looking for in donations. Anyone who wants to contribute to my collection would be doing me a favor by putting them in an envelope and marking it to my attention. I’ll have one of the rented nymphs send you a thank you note.

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