What do Tulips, Beanie Babies and Trading Cards have in Common?

Musings By Joschik
Christian obsesses over collectibles, antiques and toys more than the average person, but (he believes) in a productive way. Documenting collectibles has been a passion since working on a book about his favorite childhood toys from Timpo 41 years ago.

For years I have been studying any research related to Collectibles I can get my hands on, starting from the Dutch tulip craze / crash from the mid-1600 century…

At the height of that boom you could either buy the (admittingly lovely) Semper August tulip or “one of the grandest homes on the most fashionable canal in Amsterdam for cash, complete with a coach house and an 80-ft garden”.

In 2021 customers in Target started a gunfight in the parking lot over the right to buy a boxed set of sports trading cards (probably from Topps).  The surprise is not that there is competition, but that it is over a common item.

This Hot Wheels Super Treasure Hunt is hard to find in stores and rightfully commands a premium (there are not enough for all collectors that want it, often badly).  These trading cards sets on the other hand are available in every Target (as well as at many other retailers) and require no effort to find.

Trading cards have seen a tsunami of renewed interest after movies about Michael Jordan and Pokémon (trading cards already skyrocketed in the mid to late 80s and tanked big-time in the early 90s). And of course, there is now a newly published research report by Verified Market Research claiming that this segment alone is going to be worth $100 billion in 5 years (I personally think it is under $5 billion today and wrote about this ongoing craze here).


Last year we saw the same with a Cowen and Company research report believing the sneaker market growing to $30 billion.


This all reminds me that when Ty Warner created a perfect storm with Beanie Babies when 100,000s hold the belief that just because a product got retired it would only ever increase in value.  A staggering 3 million people bought the Beanie Baby Handbook!


According to Zac Bissonnette in his book “The Great Beanie Baby Bubble” Robert L Miller, the author of the Hummel Price Guide just increased his value estimated by 10 percent every year.


Harry Rinker, a general antiques and collectibles expert who wrote more than 20 books on those subjects writes in his 836th Column “Remember, not all price guides are accurate.  Alas, far too many antiques and collectibles price guides, especially one-category or one-topic guides, are authored to support or, at worst, manipulate market prices.“  Crazes and predictions of ever new heights are generally going hand in hand! At the end of the day, it is just human nature to believe that historical price appreciation patterns will continue.  I think we are currently seeing this for sneakers, trading cards and NFTs (but please share your views in the Comments!).



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