How long to hold investments

I have a wonderful uncle Bob that I decided to ask questions of. He is retired and has a wealth of knowledge. He has a background in lots of things, and one of them was antiques. Being a pack rat myself and enjoying antiques, I asked him for his thoughts on antiques. This is an edited dialogue that we had so that I have a place to keep it, and also it may help others on the web.

4 replies on “How long to hold investments”

I am a pack rat and save screws (fortunately I orgranize them so that i can find them later), hang on to antiques, and hoard things that have sentimental value. I suspect that you have similar traits. When you did your auction, how did you know it was time to let go of so many of your fun things? Is it a case of necessity because you need the money, need the space, or is it just that it is time to migrate the “collection” to a new type of thing? Obviously it makes sense to sell things for a profit as part of the decision.

My kids have pokemon cards that they collected when they were little. One of them did some research and found that 10 of his cards were worth over $100. I was ask if I could help them sell them on ebay. I let them know that they should think about this because they could be worth more later, but I guess I am thinking that if they want to sell them, it is probably ok too. Perhaps it is even good, so that they dont clutter their houses and
lives with “stuff”.

I’d appreciate any thoughts or insights that you have. Thanks! Mike

From Bob:
Hi Mike, In answer to your question, actually in our case we had three
different auctions. The first one was during the time that we owned the mill property. We had two goals in mind when we started getting involved with that. First of all, we had various fix-up things to accomplish including a new roof, a paint job and replacement and repair of a lot of windows. Our second goal was to set it up as a museum of local interest. That meant that we had to acquire various things from the community at auctions and from individuals. My wife had quit her job so she was able to be at home and more or less run the place during the days. I spent the weekends and evenings repairing and cleaning the property. However, as it became known that we were starting a museum, a lot of things became available to us. Some of it was donated, but we bought much of it so that we could display as we saw fit.

After a few years we had set the different areas of the mill up with certain displays, and in the long process, we found that we had quite a lot of more or less collectable things that did not really relate to this area or to that type of a museum. Our reasons for having that first auction were both to get rid of unneeded bulky things and also small things that weren’t needed in displays, but were likely things to walk out of the buildings by some of our visitors; and to accumulate some cash to help us to acquire display cases and to build shelves and do some remodeling there. We charged 50 cents a head to visit the museum, so from the profit end there just wasn’t much there.

As you probably know, my health was not too good in those days, largely because of my heart. When the time came to have surgery, we determined that we should sell the museum property to someone who could keep it going. So, after quite a wait we finally sold the museum to a realtor and then purchased a farm home with out-buildings where we lived last. So, having all of that barn and shed space we were able to keep many of the more personal items we had accumulated.

At one time, we had accumulated 30 or more clocks, some of which were quite expensive but nice. In those days I could see well enough to fix most of them myself and get them to run. I also had collected about thirty different typewriters (the old manual ones) which took up so much room and should not have been kept in an unheated building. I had them in the mill while we lived there and in the barn at the farm. At any rate, our second auction came when we had lived at the farm place for over ten years and were moving to where we live now. At that time, it was a necessity that we eliminate most of the bigger items such as tractors and old machinery, buggies, wagons, etc. I also sold much of my gun collection that I had accumulated, primarily because I felt that it was time for us to sell much of our collections, not only because of space we would not have at the new place, but to give to the kids things they were interested in having since they were all on their own then and would be able to take these things on.

My thoughts on collecting and keeping or selling such collections depend a lot upon what the collection is. My gun collection (mostly Winchesters) was an expensive but good collection because I was so interested in it, but also because it is the type of collection that is made up of old, original items. Collections of things that are replicas or fad items are usually nothing that will keep appreciating over the years. I’m not that familiar with pokemon cards. I am sort of familiar with baseball or football cards and I know that some of the earlier ones of them are quite valuable. Of course they are of actual individuals who played in those sports so, if they turned out to be a popular player, their cards were more valuable to collectors. I think that toy tractors are a good collection if they are made as replicas of the old ones. By that I mean that a toy that looks like a tractor is not as collectible as one that is made to fractional size of a full size actual make and model tractor.

Pokemon cards could tend to be more or less of a fad that is pushed to great lengths by the dealers involved with them and they might not hold their value after the fad has worn off. I don’t know. I have this collection of bobble-head dolls of football and baseball players, most of which will probably never have a lot of value excepting for those that were most popular. That would include Henry Aaron and some of the other better players.

I think that in your case with the sentimental value items and the old family and community artifacts, it would be good for you to keep them and latch onto them when they are available for a reasonable amount; then perhaps pass them on to your kids when they are situated on their own or to the family, whatever the case may be.

I guess what I’m saying is that there are many things that will catch your eye to buy and collect. In regard to the “fun things” collected, you may have to get rid of through e-bay or ads and get what you can out of them. Take the money you get and use it to look for other things that seem to be of a more profitable nature. I certainly haven’t made much money on a lot of the things I have gathered, but I’ve enjoyed having them and really didn’t lose a lot in the process. On the other hand, I did very well on the things I bought as an investment, including the Winchesters, my beer tray collection, the gasoline engines, coins and currency and so forth. I still have some things squirreled away or on display here that were good investments.

I like your reference to “stuff.” I guess the difference between collecting “stuff and collecting the “good stuff” is that the one is less worrisome to have around for security reasons and the other can require one to use safes or locked cupboards to house them and get to be a bit more worrisome to collect. However the good stuff is more prideful to own!!

A sad fact involved with many collections is that one would like to see one of your family take a liking to owning one of them some day but when the time comes they aren’t really that interested, either because they don’t have the room or because their wedded partner doesn’t really care for such things or they, themselves just aren’t interested. Then it’s time to sell!!

Bob says:
Hello again,

I guess one can look at selling antiques from at least two different perspectives. If one wants to make a business of it he could set up shop and buy and sell on a regular basis. We could have done that when we owned the mill property and looking back at that time, we probably would have done well, especially with things like oak furniture as its value, especially for the old round pedestal tables and matching chairs, rockers, etc., was growing by leaps and bounds. When we first owned that property you could buy many such items for $10 to $25 and within weeks (or probably a year) sell them for $50 to $100.

In other words, you have to be able to see the trends in people’s interest in things. I knew antique dealers who loaded up on those things and a couple of years down the road peoples interests had changed and if they had paid $100 to $200 for a round oak table people were back to paying $50 or under for them. Big money was going to Amish woodworkers for fancier oak pieces.

The other way is to buy items for your personal collection either with an eye on having it for an investment or for personal enjoyment or both. Some items that fall into that category are land (which normally continues to go up in value), coins (gold or silver and not necessarily proof year sets and special medals as they rarely appreciate a whole lot in value for anything other than the metal value. Old coins in good condition are more in demand by collectors on a regular basis), guns, especially Winchesters, have been in steady demand by collectors.

I haven’t been involved in selling on e-bay although I know people who do and they are, for the most part, happy with it. However, they have to be prepared to do poorly on some items and offset those with receiving top bidding on other items. I have bid on quite a few items, and it amazes me how one has to be on his toes to get some of treasures you want.

Auctions are the same way as something you feel should bring good money just don’t find two ambitious buyers on that given day, but that is usually made up for on other items thqt go far higher than you expected.

I think winter and early spring are good times to sell as collectors (and dealers) are busy when they can’t be outside doing other things.

Bob Says:

Another piece of advice I received (from an old Jewish antique dealer) was “don’t hold out for top dollar on something you want to sell. Sell it when the price is up where you make a fair gain, take the money and buy something else that you can make a profit on.” In other words, keep the investment money moving.

Another item that I might mention is that of investing in the stock market. That’s an area that is not in my bag to give advice on. I never really had enough money to get much involved in that in my younger years and it is best in my later (older) years to invest in a company where you get an established rate through an investment firm. At least with that you don’t take a chance on losing your principle amount that you plan on for your retirement. The bad part of that is that, like in recent years, when you come to renew, the interest rates are so low that one can’t keep the pot growing, or even keep it up to status quo if you are taking monthly or yearly allowance from it for living. When you’re younger and you make a few wrong moves you can usually make up for that in the good investments that you have made or will make. Older folks don’t always have the time or the funds available to re-route themselves.

Anyway, no matter what we do to win in the battle of making money in the best way, we don’t want to let loose of the fact that money is just a means to an end. Sometimes we have to keep at the forefront that our family and daily life are really the most important blessings that come our way. Happiness there far outshines our day-to-day worries about how best to make money. My wife used to gently remind me on occasion that I was letting some of my schemes and collecting steer me away from doing some things with family in those growing up years. I have thanked God many times for steering me into my life with her and for the family and home we have been blessed enough to have.

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