The most valuable rare collectibles and memorabilia, from stamps to NFTS, are worth millions of dollars.
The desire to collect the rarest and the most expensive collectibles and memorabilia has led people to commit their lives to building collections of rare coins, baseball cards, comic books, and autographs of their favorite celebrities.
Whether you’re a collector yourself, an investor looking to make a long-term bet on a rare collectible, or just curious about expensive memorabilia, this article will introduce you to some of the most valuable collectibles out there so you can understand the value of NFTS in context.
I made a video to accompany this post which you can watch below, or read on!
Table of Contents
1. Rare Coins
Numismatics (coin collectors) have spent years scouring flea markets and walking across muddy fields with metal detectors looking for the rarest gold and silver coins.
The rare coin collecting economy is exceptionally well developed. For example, the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) authenticates rare coins. In addition, the New York-based American Numismatic Society has run a museum dedicated to preserving rare coins since 1858.
Although the coins collected by numismatics no longer have functionality as currency in the real world, they are often sold for millions of USD.
The two most expensive collectible coins sold to date are U.S. coins. The most expensive coin ever sold is the Flowing Hair Silver/Copper Dollar (1794/5) which sold for $10 million at an auction in 2013.
Not far behind the Flowing Hair dollar is the Double Eagle (1933); this gold coin was part of a mint recalled and melted down by the then President Theodore Roosevelt after the U.S. banned anyone from owning gold. The Double Eagle survived the recall and sold for $7.5 million in 2002.
2. Expensive Classic Cars
The moment you sit in a new sports car, it loses a chunk of its value; because of this, most people see expensive cars as a lousy investment. However, collecting the rarest classic cars can net massive returns as avid collectors snap up classic cars no longer being manufactured for the highest price at auctions.
The most expensive car ever sold was a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO which sold at an R.M. Sotheby’s auction for $48.4 million. Like the old U.S. coins, scarcity factors into the GTO’s huge price tag as Ferrari only manufactured 36 of the iconic cars.
Buying one expensive car is not enough for the biggest collectors, and many of them have accumulated hundreds of classic cars. One of the most well-known collections is held by Rodger Dudding, who is believed to own over 350 classic cars worth over $55 million.
3. Comic Books
Most superhero enthusiasts get their fix of Marvel and D.C. on Netflix these days. However, comic book collectors are still adding limited edition comics to their collections for millions of dollars, while others are selling comic books they picked up as youngsters for big profits.
When someone says superhero, most of us think Superman, so it’s no surprise that the most expensive comic book ever sold featured his first appearance. Superman first appeared in Action Comics 1#, which was published in 1938 and sold at newsstands for 0.10 USD ($2 today).
Holywood star Nicholas Cage sold his copy of Action Comics 1# for a record-breaking $2.16 million in 2011.
Another notable comic book sale was Amazing Fantasy #15, which introduced the world to Spiderman and sold for over $1 million.
4. Baseball Cards
Paying millions of dollars for baseball cards might seem absurd to some of us, but it’s both a passion and an investment to avid collectors of baseball memorabilia.
Baseball fans have been collecting cards depicting their favorite players since the early 20th century, and frequently they had no idea how valuable their collections would one day become.
CBS News reported on a New Jersey family that found a treasure trove of baseball cards in their Uncle Jimmy’s attic. The collection was worth a small fortune; it’s plausible that Jimmy started collecting the memorabilia purely out of a passion for the sport, not knowing that some cards would be worth millions one day.
The most expensive baseball card ever sold dates back to 1914 and depicts the legendary player Babe Ruth. The card was sold to an anonymous buyer at auction for an estimated $6 million.
Just behind Babe Ruth’s card is the 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps baseball card which sold for over $5 million.
A non-fungible-token (NFT) is like a digital trading card; these tokens are created and traded on a blockchain; they are non-interchangeable and very difficult if not impossible to forge.
The scarcity of NFTs and their immunity to forgery has made some of them incredibly valuable. Believe it or not, the most expensive NFT ever sold was snapped up for more than Babe Ruth’s trading card and the 250 GTO combined.
The digital artist Beeple started creating Everydays: The First 5,000 Days’ over 13 years. In March 2021, it sold for $69 million to Vignesh Sundaresan, a cryptocurrency investor and NFT collection enthusiast.
The art world was dominated by collectors trying to get their hands on original Da Vinci’s and Rembrandts in the past. Vignesh is part of a new generation of art collectors who are parting with millions to add unique NFTs to their virtual collections.
Read about NFT use cases
As scarcity is the name of the game when it comes to expensive collectibles, it’s no wonder that jewelry encrusted with rare stones and gems are some of the most expensive collectibles in the world.
Building a collection of rare stones from famous jewelers is both a way to flaunt your wealth and is regarded as a safe investment.
The Hope Diamond is believed to be the most expensive piece of jewelry in the world. The 45.52 carats precious stone is valued at $250 million and was once purchased by King Louis XIV of France in 1668.
The Graff Peacock Brooch is a bargain compared to the Hope Diamond with a price tag of $100 million. The stunning diamond-encrusted peacock is the second most expensive piece of jewelry on the market.
Collecting stamps may sound less glamorous than adding another diamond necklace to your collection, but rare stamp collections are no joke.
Stamps, much like old coins, derive their value from their scarcity and their historical significance.
For example, the Chinese Whole Country Is Red Stamp, 1968. The red stamp depicting a typical Maoist representation of China’s working class is both rare and historically significant.
The historical significance and rarity of the Red Stamps has resulted in them selling for over $1 million dollars.
Despite the Red Stamp’s extraordinary value and interesting historical background, its price tag is dwarfed by the British Guiana 1-Cent Magenta, 1856.
When the then British Colony of Guiana ran out of stamps, it couldn’t wait for the next shipment from England to arrive. So, the Guiana postmaster took the unprecedented step of ordering a local newspaper to print Guiana Magenta stamps.
The newspaper’s printers produced some very strange-looking stamps, and their unusual appearance combined with their scarcity has made them immensely valuable; in 2021, a Guiana Magenta sold for $8.3 million.
8. Fine Wines
While most of like drinking wine some enthusiasts never pop the cork on their bottles and instead fill cabinets with the oldest and rarest vintages.
Humans have been drinking wine for thousands of years; in fact, the oldest winery dates back to ancient Armenia in 4,000 BCE.
In the last 6,000 years, wine has become popular in all corners of the world. And even though most of us still prefer to drink wine, the rarest vintages have become incredibly expensive, thanks to collectors.
You might squirm at the idea of paying more than $100 for a bottle of wine, but collectors are parting with far more than that for a bottle of old grapes.
The 1995 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grand Cru sold for $558,000 in 2018, earning it the title of the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold.
The Romanée-Conti sale only just exceeded the 1992 Screaming Eagle, which sold for $500,000 in 2000.
9. Chinese Porcelain
The history of China stretches back thousands of years, and much of this history has been captured in ancient porcelain.
High net worth individuals in China hope to capture a slice of their country’s long history by collecting the rarest and most beautiful pieces of porcelain.
These pieces of Chinese history are not like the average vase you might pick up in Ikea – they are selling for millions.
The Blue and White Porcelain dating back to the 9th century in China’s Henan Province is covered in a stunning cobalt blue and white pattern. An anonymous bidder paid $21.6 million for the vase making it the second most expensive piece of porcelain ever sold.
You read that right $21 million price tag is actually nowhere near the number 1 spot in the porcelain collection world.
A Chinese industrialist purchased a Qing Dynasty Porcelain vase dating back to the 18th century for a record-breaking $84 million.
For most of us, dolls give off strong horror movie vibes, and the last thing we would want is to go to bed knowing there are half of dozen of them stacked on our bookshelf.
Despite their creepy appearance, collectors see a lot of value in dolls and spend big to complete their collections.
Barbie Dolls first hit the shelves in 1959 and became one of the most iconic dolls in the world.
Although most people consider Barbies to be toys, collectors have been building collections of limited edition dolls and spending a lot of cash in the process.
Stefano Centuri, a famous jeweler, designed a Barbie Doll for the Barbie Basics Collection in 2007. The barbie named ‘Barbie by Stefano Centuri’ sold for a record $302,500 in 2010 at a charity auction.
It’s not only Barbies dolls that are being auctioned off for more money than some houses; collectors also covet life-like antique dolls.
One of the rarest life-like dolls on the market was manufactured by the German doll makers Kämmer & Reinhardt. The doll portrays a young lady from the early 20th century and sold an auction house in London for $400,000.
It’s worth noting that Kämmer & Reinhardt’s doll is believed to be 100% unique and one of, therefore, one of the rarest dolls of its type in the world.
The Final Word On Collectibles and Memorabilia
It can be difficult to wrap your head around the idea that something that has no apparent use in the real world, like an old stamp or a bottle of wine that you can’t drink, can be worth more than a house. And that’s before considering that some NFTs sell for six and seven figures!
However, as humans, we find value in artificial scarcity. One person’s junk is another’s gold.
FAQs On Collectibles and Memorabilia
Are sports collectibles legit?
Sports memorabilia and collectibles can be worth millions of dollars, especially baseball cards, some of which have been sold for over $5 million.
What old toys are worth money?
Some vintage toys are worth a small fortune. For example, you might remember Furbys if you ever collected them as a child or gave them to your children; some of these small furry toys are selling for over $100,000.
Other toys that can be worth a lot of money include: Pokemon cards, vintage lunchboxes, and Hot Wheels toy cars.