I usually write about collecting but this theme really hits home during the current situation in America and yet it does deal with collecting. You hear about it everyday with the upcoming presidential elections. The American Dream when a black man of humble origin can run for the President of the United States, a mere sixty years after the first black American was even allowed to play major league baseball in the all white leagues. yet couldn’t even stay at the same hotel as the rest of the team. When a true to life hero chose another four or five years in captivity and torture rather than use his family connections to get preferential treatment. The American Dream where a free people have a choice between two outstanding Americans and the freedom to vote for whom you chose without fear of reprisal. And during the current financial crisis, we the people have a right to vote the people out of office if we don’t think they have been successful at their posts.
We have the right to work where we want and at what we want. I have been fortunate to work at a profession, full time since 1991, that some would give their eye teeth to do. That is the American Dream. It’s not about how many cars you have or if you live on the right side of the tracks, it’s that you have the freedom of choice to do so if you choose. Nobody ever promised it would be easy but in this country, everything and anything is possible for just about anyone. I am a realist and am fully aware of the challenges that face many Americans, choices that must be made along with obligations that dictate a portion of our lives yet these are still choices.
I deal in a commodity that is not a necessity of life; it is neither food nor shelter, gas nor heat, nor doctor bills, emergency services or anything else remotely related to survival. It is a luxury to most, a nessesity to a few but they are the exception, not the rule. Lest you forget my previous article that collecting is an addiction, it is one that can easily be remedied if the funds are needed elsewhere. Collecting is also a sort of investment for some that gives them far more pleasure than a stock or bond. It can also be a sort of therapy of sorts in that the collecting of and researching a favorite subject can supply hours of contentment that a non-collector would not even comprehend.
The American Dream allows us to live where we choose, dress how we choose (at least on our own time) and collect what we choose for whatever reason suits us or catches our fancy. But as purse strings tighten with the continual added pressure of increasing prices and job losses, the buying of what most consider a luxury will surely be affected. We have seen this in Starbucks, restaurants, and travel as people think twice now even when dropping a few bucks on a coffee.
But rest assured, a collector cannot turn it off like a spigot. They may have to reign in a few dollars but most will continue to collect even if on a smaller scale. If this was not so, then one would only have to look at auction catalogs from the early 1990’s and compare them to today’s offerings. You will almost assuredly find far less great vintage memorabilia and game used equipment than in the past and if you compare prices from 1998 to 2008, you will find increases in almost every category. Vintage game used equipment and memorabilia, much like real estate, seems to have performed very well in the long run and when slumps hit the market which they routinely do, those who can ride them out seem to usually come out on top. That too is part of the American Dream, one in which, no matter how bad things seem to get, they always rise above it. We all live this dream because we can and we will survive this current slump. I’ve had a great life in this business and I know this business will survive because of the people and the love of collecting. It has proven to be a solid long term investment in both monetary terms as well as physical well being. It is my life, not a job, as it is with many other collectors and dealers who eat and breathe sports memorabilia. Given the current panic conditions, I have yet to see the wholesale looting of the great collections and true high quality stuff, regardless of the value, is less readily available with each passing year and they “ain’t making any more” of the vintage stuff. Buy what you can afford but buy the best and even during trying times, you will see your collection grow both in value and size. I for one am not about to bail on this business or this country and they can put the doom and gloom on the television twenty four hours a day but it too shall pass. This is a great country and this business has been great to me and many others and will continue to be a great source of pleasure and financial gain for any and all involved in the long run. Now it’s time to put away my soap box but as MEARS Auth, LLC always says. Collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect and I will add what you can afford and hang in there till its over and you will always come out on top.