Updated: Mar 27, 2020
I am often asked, “When is the best time to sell my collection?” And not to be one accused of keeping my opinions to myself, I say, “Strike while the iron is hot.” What do I mean by that?
When you see record prices happening, sell your collection. Sounds obvious to most, but so often I hear, “I'll hold on to it. It can only go up from here,” or “Imagine what it will be worth 20 years from now!” I don't know if it's prospecting, greed, or something their parents ingrained in these collectors, but I think it's a losing bet. Let me cite a few examples.
Fifteen years ago, we were selling Hummel collections and prices were riding high. I would see collections in my travels and ask folks if they wished to consign for auction, and more often than not, the owners would decline. Their consensus was, this would never end, and Hummels would keep increasing in value. Then about 10 years ago, large collections began to be sold off and we could see it coming quickly. The crash. The collectors blamed the economy and kept waiting. And waiting....It's wasn’t the economy, but simple economics. Huge supply, in this case, and no demand from the next generation. I have yet to meet a Gen X'er or Millennial that collects them. Most have no idea what they are.
The next example is toy trains. A Pre-War Lionel Train set was money in the bank for a long run as they were desired by many collectors and enthusiasts spanning several generations. They all had a train set when they were kids and had many fond memories of them. They sold like hot cakes and there were many serious collectors. Over the past five years, toy collectors’ tastes have changed and you can see the Hummel thing happening. A 2003 price of $12,000 for a Lionel Pre-War set is now $1,500 if you are lucky. Some say it was video games that caused the younger generations to lose interest, and that really may be true.
What to do now? If you are thinking of selling a collection, sell it when it's hot. What is hot in toys? Star Wars toys from 1977 through 1984 as well as most action figures from this period. Hot Wheels Redlines and AFX Aurora Slot Cars from the late 1960s through the early 1970s. Let me give you my forecast. Star Wars is going to peak with this new movie release. It’s a great time to sell you Star Wars collectibles. Hot Wheels and Slot Cars are more urgent to sell as I feel they are going to go the way of the train set soon. I hate when I see a collection that was just held on to a little too long. It's just like playing the stock market, but when they fall off the cliff, they don't recover to former glory.