What's Hot, What's Not: The 2021 Edition, Part I

Collector Anecdotes And Antics

January 29, 2021

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take this time to welcome you to the year 2021. Here’s hoping that 2021 is much better than the year 2020 turned out to be. And since it is a new year, it is time to use our “2020 hindsight” (pun intended) and take a look back at some of the hottest markets in the antiques and collectibles trade. Regular readers know that I do this each year. My next article will feature commentary on some of the markets in the trade that lost ground in the year 2020.
All the collecting categories that I have listed below have, in my opinion, gained significant attention in the antiques and collectibles trade within the last year. This is solely based on my own observations in the trade, and you are welcome to agree or disagree with these findings. As is customary, I have also provided my best tips for anyone looking to enter these markets. Now let’s get to the list.
5. Luxury Collectibles. Vintage Rolex watches and Hermes Birkin bags have become all the rage in the luxury collectibles market, with some vintage timepieces fetching millions of dollars at auction, and Hermes Birkin bags, a relative newcomer to the luxury collectibles scene, fetching six figures or more. Even with the pandemic and economic upheaval that occurred in 2020, there has been no slowdown in demand for any of these items. In fact, even demand for modern era Rolex watches increased as production was halted due to the ongoing pandemic.
Top Tip: The market for top-tier luxury collectibles will always be in demand because the people who can afford these items are not easily affected by the strength of the economy at large. That being said, it is much better to take advantage of vintage pieces at auction rather than buying modern era pieces hoping they appreciate in value over the years. The money will always be chasing vintage luxury collectibles over modern era pieces, and that trend will always be the norm.
4. Numismatic Coins. Anytime there is uncertainty and a potential downturn in the economy, coins always provide a safe haven just due to their precious metal content. However, in 2020, even I was not prepared for how much demand would engulf the rare coin market, with strong prices across not only the U.S. market, but also increased demand in historically important world coins and ancient coins as well.
Top Tip: Ancient coins are now entering a massive era of increased demand due to coin grading company NGC certifying them under their NGC Ancients grading tier. If you are collecting graded ancient coins, take your time and do your research to avoid overpaying. There are lots of great ancient coins selling at a discount in addition to some pieces selling for a premium. There is no need to rush into this market without doing the necessary research.
3. Firearms and Edged Weapons. I am combining both of these collecting categories to prevent them from taking up two separate entries on this list, but make no mistake, they are related. Anytime uncertainty and fear enter into the equation, these markets always become in demand. 2020 saw a rise in prices being paid for quality collectible firearms and collectible investment grade edged weapons. Truth be told, this market has been growing strong for several years now, and prices have been increasing steadily across the board.
Top Tip: Be careful if investing in modern era collectible guns. Speculation is all the rage in this segment of the market, and, in my honest opinion, you are better off investing in vintage or antique collectible guns that have stood the test of time and are historically significant rather than modern era firearms that are the current “it” items to own. If going after edged weapons, try to buy historically significant items in authentic condition.
2. Pokemon Cards and Related Collectibles. Some collectors are spending serious amounts of money in an attempt to “catch them all.” While extremely speculative at present time, truly rare “Pokemon” cards aren’t going away anytime soon, so expect even more surprises in this market this year as well. If you happen to hink that paying six digits for a top-tier graded “Pokemon” card from 1999 is insane, I agree with you, but you can’t dispute the fact that people are more than willing to pay these prices at present time.
Top Tip: Right now this market is much too speculative for novices to attempt to enter, at least on the high end. A correction will eventually come, and when it does, a lot of these starry-eyed speculators will suffer serious losses. Use caution and understand that this is one of the newest markets in the collectibles trade.
1. Graded Vintage Nintendo Video Games. There is a major speculative bubble brewing in the market for factory-sealed and graded vintage Nintendo NES games. While it is very true that factory-sealed first-edition Nintendo games are scarce, the market has been completely manipulated to get it to this point. Now we have literal investment groups targeting some of these items claiming they will go even higher. Make no mistake, the “Pokemon” collecting market is also being propped up by the same speculators. Use caution!
Top Tip: If you are thinking of getting into this market from an investment standpoint, please reconsider. This market is much too new and speculative for the average collector to get involved in. All it will take is one key find of factory-sealed vintage Nintendo games, and the market could potentially take a downfall. Novice collectors beware.
And there you have it, these are my choices for markets in the antiques and collectibles trade that showed just how resilient the trade was in 2020. Thanks for reading!

Shawn Surmick has been an avid collector since the age of 12. He currently resides in his hometown of Boyertown, Pa., and is a passionate collector of antiques and collectibles. His articles focus on various topics affecting the marketplace.


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