3 of the most valuable collections to start in these uncertain times

For some, starting a collection of anything is worth doing just for the thrill of the chase, while others simply enjoy finding mementos that stir up memories of the past.

Fewer still acquire rarities for their portfolios, hoping to accrue enormous profits over time. But with the coronavirus crisiscausing huge swings in the market for things like stocks, gold and property, more people are looking at collectables instead. Which ones stand to best rival traditional assets in terms of value?

1.   Whisky

Whisky has long been one of the world’s most collectable types of alcohol, but the people who are buying it for the sake of their portfolio are getting younger and younger, and it’s easy to see why. While the fine wine industry struggled in the face of sky-high tariffs in 2020, the whisky sector went from strength to strength. Its value rose by 12% in the second quarter alone, capping off a remarkable few years for what’s now being dubbed ‘liquid gold’. According to The Wealth Report from Knight Frank, the value of whisky grew by a staggering 564% in the last decade, far higher than the growth of wine (120%), as well as cars (194%) and art (141%). In fact, whisky collectors can make annual profits of 10%-30%, which is unsurprising when you consider the stats above. So how exactly can you get started?

There are two main ways to begin a whisky collection: either by purchasing bottles or the casks. Both options have their pros and cons — for example, casks often provide quicker returns, yet are beset with risks like the liquid leaking out, or rust ruining the batch. It certainly pays to do your research into the topic, as this will not only help you decide which form of whisky to buy, but narrow things down further from there. After all, the world of whisky is a disparate one. As noted by Hard to Find Whisky: “While all whisky is created equal, some whiskies rise to the top of the pile.  Whether that be a stunning vintage, a silent distillery, a whisky of magnificent age or one of limited quantities, there are certain bottles that are clearly more sought after than others.” Only once you know your stuff can you sniff out the best opportunities surrounding bottles like these and have the best chance at making some serious money.

2.   Watches

Portable timepieces have long been about more than simply knowing how long you have until your next appointment. The wealthiest among us have long splashed out significant sums on top-range watches made by some of the world’s biggest brands. And because many of these sought-after accessories have the ability to accrue huge value over time, the market for luxury watches has grown massively in recent times. This trend has only continued during the pandemic. For instance, the Sotheby’s Important Watches live auction concluded on December 15, 2020, and raised $10.4 million — up 27% from the 2019 edition, and many retailers reported rising sales during 2020. This included WatchBox, which sold about 48% more watches costing between $50,000 and $100,000 than it did during the same period in 2019.

When it comes to a luxury watch collection strategy, one of the most important tips is to take into account the brand of watch you buy. As noted by Tempo & Time: “You’d be forgiven for assuming that watches made by widely popular brands would hold their worth due to mass appeal.” However, they go onto state that the value is not predicated on demand alone, but also by exclusivity: the powerhouse brands are often where the money is.

3.   Pop culture collectibles

The pop culture collectibles market has taken off in recent years, with things like vintage comics, figurines and collectible cards becoming massively sought-after. Indeed, the likes of Mythic Markets and Otis allow individuals to buy shares in these items. Similar to the traditional stock market, these companies hold initial public offerings (IPOs) for the collectibles, and have online marketplaces members can use to buy and trade their shares. With the most recent estimates putting the industry’s worth at $12 billion, and the likes of Walmart taking notice, pop culture collectibles could be your ticket to a windfall.

As for which collectibles you should be targeting, arguably the pick of the bunch is Funko Pops vinyl toys, which depict stylised versions of celebrities or characters from movies and TV. While many are mass-produced and unlikely to accrue much value, rarer models available at toy fairs can make owners a pretty penny. For instance, a Chewbacca figure released at Comic-Con in 2011 made $2,700 back in 2020. Other solid bets include music memorabilia from the likes of Buddy Holly, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jim Morrison, first edition books, rare trading cards (such as Pokémon or Yu-Gi-Oh), and special edition board games.