Katrina

Written by Katrina

Modified & Updated: 09 Jul 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Things to Collect

An old toy and an empty wine bottle can mean different things to different people. To many, they are simply old items that need to be disposed of. To some, they are among the most precious things to collect and keep forever.

Collecting is a fun hobby that people of all ages and genders can enjoy. There are no strict rules, and a person is free to collect whatever it is they want. With so many things to collect, however, it can certainly get overwhelming. Where does an aspiring collector even begin? Don’t fret, because this list will guide you through it!

Read on to learn about the definition of collecting, factors to consider, and some of the most common collectibles.

What is collecting?

In simple terms, collecting refers to gathering certain things together as a hobby. These objects can be anything from photographs to books to cars. Together, they make up a person’s collection.

Non-collectors often wonder, “Why do people collect things in the first place?” The answer, of course, varies for each collector. One simple answer is that it’s fun! Adding another piece to a collection or simply browsing through a current collection can make any collector feel joy.

Each person’s collection varies. It can either be small, big, or just one expansive collection. There is also no strict time limit to collecting, so people can collect at their own pace!

Aside from these pros, collecting is also a way people can connect with a community. For instance, trading card collectors often meet and befriend new people with who they can trade, buy cards, or simply share their growing selection.

What are some factors to consider before collecting?

There are so many collectibles to choose from that it can be hard to know where to start. No need to worry, however, as there are factors that can help make things easier. Before choosing what to collect, it’s important to consider your interests, budget, storage space, time, and longevity.

Personal Interests

First things first: what are you interested in? Most interests have related items you can collect. Popular TV shows and video games often have merchandise of their own. Fans can collect the merchandise while enjoying the TV show or video game.

For instance, Pokémon, a popular media franchise, has different merchandise lines that a fan can choose from. There are trading cards, figurines, and even costumes. A fan who wants to be a collector can collect one type of merchandise or collect all kinds of merchandise under the same franchise.

Budget

There are certainly many things to collect, but not all of them line up with a person’s budget. Of course, this isn’t something to be ashamed of. Collecting can truly be an expensive hobby, and it isn’t for everybody. But it also doesn’t have to break the bank.

For those on a tight budget, there are plenty of cheap things to collect. Fridge magnets, stamps, and postcards are some great examples. Some collectibles won’t cost you a cent. Dried flowers, letters from friends, and empty bottles are some examples to consider.

Storage

Different collectibles require different ways of storing. Some collectibles are small and won’t take up too much space. For instance, baseball cards and postcards only need photo albums or flipbooks. Some objects, however, require bigger storage space.

The size of the collectible isn’t the only thing that factors into storing them. Some collectibles are fragile and will require shelves that keep them out of reach from pets or children. Some collectibles can also be sensitive to certain temperatures or exposure to sunlight, such as antique furniture.

Time

When it comes to collecting, time is another important factor to consider. Some collectors need to devote more time and energy to complete their collection. This is especially true for those who like to collect rare objects. Rare objects are hard to find, and collectors often have to travel to find them.

Aside from the time and effort it takes to get these objects, there is also the time that goes into maintaining them. Organizing, cleaning, and dusting all take up time too. For instance, cleaning a camera often takes longer than cleaning buttons.

If you’re often busy with work, family, and other duties, then consider low-maintenance collections.

Investment

For many, collecting is more than just a hobby. It’s also an investment. Rare and in-demand collectibles can cost a fortune. In a few years, their prices are likely to increase. Because of this, people often view their collections as investments too.

A collector can sell an item for a higher price than when they first bought it. That way, they can make a profit from collecting. Of course, this is assuming the item is still in good condition. Wear and tear from mishandling will decrease the value of the collectible.

What are common things people collect?

Coins

Things to Collect: Coins
Image from Pixabay

Coins are among the most common things to collect. A “numismatist” refers to a collector of coins, paper money, and medals.

Many countries have their currencies. Each currency has several types of coins, and these coins come in different shapes and sizes. This variety makes coins a popular collectible item. For old and rare coins that are no longer in print, coins can certainly be a challenge to collect, too.

Often, collectors start by gathering the coins from their birth country’s currency and then branch out to other currencies later on. Many numismatists love to learn about the history and story behind each coin they collect. If you’re a big fan of history, then collecting coins might be for you!

Jewelry

If you’re looking for things to collect that worth money, then jewelry is one example. Jewelry, especially vintage ones, can sell for an exorbitant price. This also means that collecting them will be pricey, especially for rare pieces.

There are cheaper ways to find rare jewelry for steal prices, however. Many antique stores, garage sales, and even a grandparent’s closet can have hidden gems. It’s all about keeping a keen eye out for them.

Of course, it is also important to make sure you aren’t purchasing fake jewelry. Many scammers approach beginner collectors. To avoid scams, ask for some form of verification, such as a certification or letter of authenticity.

Cars

Collecting cars isn’t an option for everybody, but they are arguably still one of the coolest and most rewarding things to have. And like any other collectible, there are many types of cars a person can collect.

A person can opt to collect cars of one color, brand, or size. Some collectors are only interested in vintage cars, while some simply collect according to their tastes.

Of course, collecting cars doesn’t just require money. It also requires a lot of storage space. You will need to store them in a garage to keep them safe and in pristine condition.

Miniature Cars

Things to Collect: Miniature Cars
Image from Pixabay

For car enthusiasts on a budget, don’t fret! You can always choose to collect miniature cars instead of actual cars. Miniature cars are small figurines or models of cars, and they are often accurate copies of actual cars. They are cheaper, smaller, and much easier to store.

Some miniature cars have real engines in them, which some collectors love to customize. In fact, there are some racing tracks you can purchase alongside miniature cars. That way, you and your collector friends can have racing games!

Popular brands such as Hot Wheels and Matchbox offer many models of miniature cars. Furthermore, you can usually find them in most toy shops near you! They are easy enough to store on shelves or in glass cases.

Antique Furniture

Antique furniture is one of the most popular things to collect. Any piece of furniture that is at least a hundred years old counts as antique furniture including chairs, cabinets, mirrors, and more.

Buying antique furniture from shops can burn a hole in your pocket. Thankfully, there are other ways to find antique furniture. Garage sales and online marketplaces can offer antique furniture at cheaper prices.

Restoring and collecting furniture are also great hobbies that can come hand-in-hand. Crafty individuals will often purchase cheap broken antiques and then restore them. After restoration, the value of the item increases.

Watches and Clocks

Jewelry isn’t the only collectible accessory. Watches and clocks are also among the top things to collect. People collect many timepieces, such as wristwatches, pocket watches, and alarm clocks.

In today’s digital age, antique and vintage timepieces can be the most valuable pieces in a person’s collection. Aside from its age, a watch and clock’s history of ownership can also affect its price. One of the most expensive antique clocks ever sold is the Breguet Sympathique clock, which sold for over $6.8 million because a Duc d’Orleans once owned it.

Barware

Barware
Image from rawpixel

If you’re a fan of mixology or bartending, then why not consider collecting barware? Barware refers to the equipment bartenders use to prepare and serve cocktails and other alcoholic drinks. This includes glasses, mixers, shakers, and other tools.

Most collectors choose vintage glasses for their collection. Aside from their value, most vintage glasses make for great display pieces on shelves. They can choose from tall glasses, shot glasses, and even wine glasses.

Those who want a unique collection, however, can always go for antique shakers, knives, and bottle openers.

Wine

For those who like to drink but don’t enjoy mixing their drinks, there’s always the option to collect wine instead! Collecting wine is a popular hobby that traces back to the tradition of aging wine.

Aging wine refers to storing wine in a cellar for a long period. During this time, chemical reactions from the wine’s ingredients change its taste, smell, and even aroma. Most wines taste better after aging, so aged wines are usually much more valuable than fresh wines.

Because of this, collecting wine can also be a great investment if collectors decide to sell them later. Of course, a wine collector can always just drink their aged wine and relish their patience and hard work.

For wine enthusiasts looking for cheaper things to collect, wine corks and wine bottles are also popular choices.

Perfume Bottles

Perfumes often come in unique and beautiful packaging. Because of this, perfume bottles have become among the most popular things to collect.

Collectors will often display their collection in glass cases or shelves because perfume bottles make great art pieces. Vintage perfume bottles, especially, have unique shapes with prints on them. Perfume bottles by René Lalique, a renowned French glass designer, are some of the most sought-after.

Rarer perfume bottles can get expensive, but there are many that collectors can buy for less than $25.

Books

Book Collection
Image from Stanford d.school

If you’re a bookworm looking for another hobby, then you don’t have to look too far! Books are actually one of the most popular things to collect.

You can collect books by genre, author, or language. Most books are easy enough to find at bookshops, so you can grow your collection in no time. For rare books, however, you’ll have to dig a bit deeper. First edition books are especially hard to find, and they can also sell for over hundreds of dollars.

Some might think collecting books is boring and easy. However, collecting books can often be high-maintenance. For instance, books require a lot of dusting and cleaning. Furthermore, most books will fade under the sun, so they have to be stored away from windows.

Comic Books

For superhero fans looking for another hobby, try collecting comic books. Comic books are one of the most common things to collect because of their huge fanbases.

With the success of Marvel and DC film adaptations, the fanbase has also gotten bigger. Some collect comic books of their favorite superheroes, while some focus on getting rare first press copies.

The most expensive come book of all time is an original copy of Action Comics #1. This comic book first introduced the world to the famous Superman. The owner held an auction for the mint copy on eBay, and he opened the bid at 99 cents. The final price of the comic was a whopping $3.2 million.

Vinyls

There are plenty of things to collect for music lovers. One example would be vinyl records. Vinyl records refer to flat, thick disks that can play specific songs. People who collect vinyl records will often have a selection of record players too.

Some people only collect vinyls of their favorite artists. Meanwhile, some focus on vinyls from a specific timeframe, like the 1960s and 1970s. Like any collectible, there are rare and sought-after pieces too. Original vinyl records of songs by The Beatles are an example.

Most vinyl records are easy enough to find. Music stores, thrift shops, and flea markets often sell a range of vinyls.

CDs and DVDs

Things to Collect: CDs and DVDs
Image from Pixabay

People hardly use CDs and DVDs nowadays. Netflix and other streaming sites have taken over instant access to shows and films, while Spotify is one of the most popular current avenues to listen to music. Because technology is so advanced now, many see CDs and DVDs as things of the past to collect.

This doesn’t mean CDs and DVDs have lost their value. In fact, many consider old CDs and DVDs on the same level as classic books. They can certainly bring about a wave of nostalgia to any collector.

CDs and DVDs are also easy to store. If you have a shelf, you can keep the case of the CD. If you’re running low on space, you can always store the disks in a CD album or book instead.

Vintage Movie Posters

Did you know vintage movie posters are one of the most difficult things to collect? Before the 1940s, only cinemas were given official movie posters. Even then, cinemas had to return the posters back to the producers because they were only renting them. Because of this, old movie posters are rare, and only a few of them remain in good condition. This makes them hard to hunt down today.

Another thing that can make collecting movie posters hard is their large size. Two to three posters can easily take up space on your wall, especially if you don’t have enough space to begin with. However, there are ways to store movie posters aside from hanging them on walls. Storage boxes, flat files, and large portfolios are great options too.

Collectors don’t recommend rolling up your movie posters. While this can save you space, it can also damage the ink of your posters and ruin their form.

Cameras

From vintage to digital, cameras are among the coolest things to collect. Photography is a popular hobby, and collecting cameras often come hand-in-hand with it.

There are different types of cameras a person can collect. However, most collectors focus on vintage cameras. And with many cheap vintage cameras on the market, it’s important to thoroughly check their features. A collector should check the camera’s shutter, viewfinder, and controls before buying.

Another great thing about collecting cameras is you can use them. Unlike comic books, you don’t have to keep cameras sealed on shelves. Some vintage cameras can work with modern film too, so all you have to do is buy the right ones.

Bookmarks

bookmark
Image from Pixabay

Like cameras, bookmarks are among the few collectibles you can freely use. Bookmarks come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Most are made from paper or cardboard, but some can also be magnets or ribbons.

Often, people collect bookmarks because they associate them with certain books, while some associate them with places and even other people. Most gift shops sell cheap bookmarks as souvenirs as they are common gifts between friends.

Sand

Souvenirs can be pricey, and most travelers don’t have enough luggage space to bring them home. This is why sand is one of the most popular things to collect when traveling.

Sand comes in different colors. Some beaches have white sand, and some have pink! Of course, color is not the only factor sand collectors consider. Many also take an interest in the texture and location of where the sand is found in.

Most collectors store their sand in individual bottles. Many also enjoy making their labels and containers. Aside from having a unique display, it is also a way to express themselves individually.

Stamps

Philately is the study of stamps and postal materials. A philatelist refers to a person who collects stamps. Today, there are over 60 million philatelists worldwide.

You might wonder why collecting stamps is still so popular. After all, more people use Facebook to communicate nowadays instead of sending each other letters. This is because stamps hold a lot of stories about a place’s history and culture. In fact, collectors who study their stamps can learn a great deal about different states in the US.

Another advantage to collecting stamps is how easy they are to store. Most collectors keep their stamps in scrapbooks or portfolios.

Postcards

Things to Collect: Postcards
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Like stamps, postcards are cheap and easy to store. They are also easy to find as most souvenir shops and bookstores sell them.

When it comes to collecting postcards, people often choose between two categories: location and theme. Some collectors focus on collecting postcards based on where the postcards are from. This is great for those who like to travel and want to keep a memento of places they visited.

On the other hand, some collectors focus on the theme of the postcards. They choose which postcards to collect based on the subject of the art. For instance, some only collect postcards with animals on them.

Ticket Stubs

Collecting ticket stubs might not sound as cool as collecting cameras or cars, but it is a fun hobby of its own! Ticket stubs are collectibles that are either free or cheap.

Many begin collecting ticket stubs by keeping the ones they get from events. Since people pay for entry to these events, the ticket stubs are “free”. Of course, you can also buy ticket stubs for events you didn’t personally go to. Flea markets sell ticket stubs for a dollar or so.

There are many ticket stubs you can collect. Some examples include ticket stubs from movies, concerts, and sports games.

Letters

Next on this list of things to collect are letters. Letters offer a brief glimpse into another person’s life, thoughts, and feelings.

Handwritten letters are popular collectibles, but some also collect old typewritten letters. Some even collect letters in different languages.

It’s important to store letters properly. Otherwise, the ink might fade away after some time. Preserve them in a closet or shelf to keep them safe from moisture and light. These two factors could cause the ink to run or fade away.

Photographs

Old Photos
Image from PIXNIO

Photographs are a no-brainer when it comes to things to collect. People often don’t realize they have a collection of photos until they go through their storage.

Like letters, photographs offer a glimpse of the past. Photographs tell stories of people, places, and events. Often, these stories are what collectors are after.

Since there are so many types of photographs, it’s a good idea to limit your collection to specific themes. For instance, some opt to collect photos of one place over the years. Some collect photos of sunsets from different places in the world. It all depends on a person’s taste.

Funko Pops

Funko Pops are small figurines of popular characters or iconic celebrities. All Funko Pops have a distinct style. They are around 3.75 to 4 inches tall, and their heads are rounded squares with black beady eyes.

You can buy them in toy shops, comic stores, and online. Rare Funko Pops with limited copies are often auctioned on eBay at high prices. For instance, an owner of a Comic-Con exclusive Chewbacca Pop sold it for $2,700.

If you’re a fan of a big franchise, there is a big chance they have a line of Funko Pops too. Popular characters from Disney movies, anime series, and sports teams are some examples.

Action Figures

Of course, Funko Pops aren’t the only figurines you can collect. You can also hoard action figures of superheroes or characters from action films, TV shows, or comics. There are also action figures for popular sports icons like baseball star Babe Ruth.

Unlike Funko Pops, action figures have jointed limbs. An owner can make their action figures strike different poses. This can make displaying action figures even more fun.

Most action figures are available in toy shops and comic stores. They are relatively affordable, but rare and vintage action figures can sell for thousands of dollars.

One of the most expensive action figures ever is the Prototype G.I. Joe. A private collector bought the original 1963 action figure for $200,000.

Dolls

Dolls
Image from Pixabay

Contrary to popular belief, dolls aren’t just for girls to play with. Dolls are also popular things to collect for adults.

There is a wide selection of dolls collectors can choose from. There are plastic dolls, cloth dolls, small dolls, and even human-sized dolls. Dolls often come with clothes you can dress them in. People who sew or crochet can even make clothes for their dolls.

Like most collectibles, dolls also have rare and exclusive ones. One example of a rare doll is Madame Alexander Eloise. Madame Alexander, the dollmaker, created only five copies of this doll. Each wears high-end clothes and accessories. Today, a Madame Alexander Eloise has a price tag of $5 million.

Dried Flowers and Plants

Looking for things to collect that won’t hurt your wallet? Consider collecting dried flowers and plants! Dried flowers and plants are cheap to free, and they are beautiful collectibles anybody can appreciate.

Some people collect dried flowers and plants by picking up fallen plants in public parks. Meanwhile, some collect from their home garden. You can also find dried flowers and plants at your local florist, but it will cost you a few dollars.

Dried flowers and plants make for great displays on your shelves, but you can also press them on pages of books. Some collectors enjoy filing dried flowers in books, along with information about the plant.

Paintings

Painters and art enthusiasts alike often collect paintings. Some focus their collection on a single artist, while some focus on collecting a specific movement or genre.

Paintings are among the most expensive things to collect. In fact, the most expensive art collection has a value of $3 billion. Brothers Ezra and David Nahmad own over 4,500 pieces in their Switzerland warehouse. Among their collection are famous pieces by Monet and Picasso.

However, there are also relatively cheap paintings out there. You can focus on collecting paintings by less famous artists. That way, you can build your art collection without going broke while supporting an artist’s business!

Tattoos

Tattoos
Image from Piqsels

One of the coolest things to collect is tattoos. Tattoos are inked marks or designs on a person’s skin. Usually, tattoos are permanent, so it’s best to be 100% sure before collecting them.

Like paintings, tattoos also have different styles. This can vary from artist to artist. A tattoo collector might collect tattoos of a single tattoo artist’s style. Meanwhile, some base their collections on a theme or subject.

Unfortunately, there is a stereotype against people with tattoos with some believing people with tattoos are troublemakers. This is hardly true, however. Many who collect tattoos simply want to appreciate art on their skin.

Baseball Cards

When you ask people to name cool things to collect for guys, a common answer would be baseball cards. Baseball cards are small cards that feature photos of baseball players. It includes a card number, a brief biography of the player, and even trivia.

Today, there are thousands of baseball cards to collect. To make things easier, people often focus on a specific theme. Some like to collect the cards of a specific team or player while some only like to collect vintage baseball cards.

Baseball cards seem simple enough to store, but there’s actually a lot that goes into it. Collectors recommend purchasing plastic sleeves for your baseball cards to protect them from scratches or fading.

Jerseys

There are other options for sports fans looking for things to collect. Collecting jerseys is one example.

A jersey refers to the loose shirt or uniform sports players wear at games. Different teams will have different jerseys, and each jersey displays the last name and number of a player on the back.

Sports fans can collect jerseys of their favorite player, while some focus on collecting jerseys of different teams. You can buy jerseys at official games, sports shops, or online.

Sneakers

Things to Collect: Sneakers
Image from Flickr

For many, sneakers are more than just a type of shoe. They are prized collectibles too! In general, a sneaker refers to a casual or sports type of shoe with a rubber sole.

Some collect sneakers of a single brand, while some collect sneakers of the same design or color. Nike Air Force 1, Adidas Stan Smith, and Vans Old Skool are examples of sneakers you’ll find in most collections.

Sneakers can be hard to store. They can be bulky and take up a lot of space. Despite this, however, many collectors advise that you keep the shoes’ original box. Like most collectibles, sneakers will sell for a lot more if you still have their original packaging.

Trading Cards

Among all the things to collect, trading cards might be the most popular. Trading cards are small cards, usually made from cardboard or thick paper. These cards feature different subjects, such as people, places, or objects. They are meant for collecting and trading. In fact, another name for trading cards is “collectible cards”.

Aside from baseball cards, there are also trading cards for other sports, like basketball and football. Nowadays, people also collect trading cards from K-pop albums, which are called “photocards”.

Some trading cards also function as card games. Pokémon cards, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Magic: The Gathering are all examples. These cards come with set rules on how collectors can play against each other.

Buttons

Buttons are among the smallest things to collect. They are easy to store, but they can also be easy to lose. To keep them, collectors often store buttons in organizers or boxes.

Antique buttons are rare and hard to identify. Usually, antique buttons are porcelain, wooden, or other non-plastic materials. They are often handmade, and button makers would paint unique designs on top. Some antique buttons even have floral scenery and miniature portraits.

Buttons can sell for thousands of dollars. However, most buttons are cheap and easy to find. You can find them at your local tailor or craft shop.

Erasers

Eraser Collection
Image from Flickr

Erasers are popular collectibles for children. They are cheap, colorful, and easy to find in most craft stores. Erasers are also easy to store in pencil cases, boxes, or pouches.

There are all sorts of fun designs to collect. Erasers come in food shapes, animal shapes, and even landmarks like the Eiffel Tower! Kids can also collect erasers of their favorite characters like Spongebob.

Because erasers are small, they can also be choking hazards. It’s important to make sure your kids are old enough to collect them, so they know not to swallow them.

Things of One Color

Some people don’t like to restrict themselves to a specific item. Instead, they focus on collecting things of the same color or colors.

From books to shoes, some will collect just about anything as long as it is a specific color. A collector can also focus on different shades of one color or a specific color palette.

Since the collection contains different items, storage can get tricky. Large items like furniture can’t fit in with small items like clocks. To be safe, people usually allot one entire room for their collection. For smaller collections, however, a display shelf should be enough.

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