Collectibles have been a part of almost every culture since ancient times. Whereas some objects have been collected for their usefulness, others have been selected for their aesthetic beauty alone. In the United States, the kinds of collectibles currently popular range from traditional objects such as stamps, coins, rare books, and art to more recent items of interest like dolls, bottles, baseball cards, and comic books.
Interest in collectibles has increased enormously during the past decade, in part because some collectibles have demonstrated their value as investments. Especially during cycles of high inflation, investors try to purchase tangibles that will at least retain their current market values. In general, the most traditional collectibles will be sought because they have preserved their value over the years, there is an organized auction market for them, and they are most easily sold in the event that cash is needed. Some examples of the most stable collectibles are old masters, Chinese ceramics, stamps, coins, rare books, antique jewelry, silver, porcelain, art by well-known artists, autographs, and period furniture. Other items of more recent interest include old photograph records, old magazines, post cards, baseball cards, art glass, dolls, classic cars, old bottles, and comic books. These relatively new kinds of collectibles may actually appreciate faster as short-term investments, but may not hold their value as long-term investments. Once a collectible has had its initial play, it appreciates at a fairly steady rate, supported by an increasing number of enthusiastic collectors competing for the limited supply of collectibles that become increasingly more difficult to locate.