As more and more baby boomers head for the green pastures of retirement, they are finding a previously unknown source of ready cash for those little extras in life. It turns out that many passions of their youth, such as comic books, baseball cards and even classic Barbie dolls are worth far more than they first thought. Think you might have some hidden treasures in your attic that can help with your retirement? While they may not replace blue chip stocks as a tried and true investment scheme, investing in such items can make a real difference for many retirees. They key is their scarcity and the condition they are in. Here are a few examples of noteworthy collectibles that became major investments in the past.
The Hip Alternative Investments – Comic Books
If you grew up in the fifties like many who are considering retirement, then comic books would have been part of your childhood landscape. They were everywhere in the fifties. You could buy them at neighborhood drug stores, grocery stores and even at local newsstands. They were cheap back then, about a dime, and most kids had a comic book or two stashed in closet or rolled up in their back pocket of their jeans. But some of these comics were carefully boxed and set aside after one read. They might have even been hidden in attics to protect them during the times when comics were under attack by many parent groups as dangerous for kids to read.
Some of those hidden stashes have shown up decades later, and valued in the high thousands if not millions. One such stash was discovered in Colorado and became the basis for a comic book shop called Mile High Comics. Its owner found his father’s stash from the forties, sold at auction the most valuable and uses the rest as the core of his collection to open up his comic book shop which remains one of the most active today. Having recently sold the business and retired, he continues to be involved in the comic book collecting industry, and has discovered several more “mile high” collections, kept in pristine condition and therefore yielding mile high prices, by the thinner air of Denver. This was one alternative investment that just kept on giving.
From Bike Spokes to Bank Boxes – Baseball Cards
Back in the fifties, and earlier, novelty cards were sold as an incentive by gum companies such as Topps Company. Kids bought the gum and saved and traded cards about movie stars such as Hop along Cassidy. While this was successful their next venture into baseball cards would prove to be a game changer for Topps. The cards were widely popular, traded amongst the kids and soon were everywhere. Even the dreaded loser cards could be attached to the spokes of your bike to make a purring sound as your rode to the local drug store for your next pack. When the company moved on to pop stars such as The Beatles, early baseball cards were dumped.
But the baseball series became the true collector items; especially those released at the end of each baseball season as they sold fewer cards and thus became the rarer cards worth collecting in later years. In fact, the rare Mickey Mantle cards from 1952, included in the group that was dumped, have sold for as much as $282,000 at auction. While it is obvious these were not the cards attached to bike spokes as kids, it just may be worth your while to check in the storage locker for any childhood toys, cards or books you may still have. They could be worth more than you think.