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401(k) Tanking, Antiques Collections Sound

by Sandra Lee Stuart (09/18/08).

The stock market is in turmoil. Investment banks must be bailed out by the U.S. government. Hedge funds are experiencing investor demands. The largest insurance company must be propped up by the government. Where does it all end? Should I convert all my investments to cash? How about U.S. Treasuries or gold? Or what about antiques?

We are all anxious not to loose any more in the investment arena. The “talking heads” in the media caution and encourage investments in the same vehicles. U.S. Treasuries are at the lowest rate in years. Gold is touted as a solid investment that will keep up and exceed inflation, but I have seen it go south.

My antiques-dealer client base comes to my mind and to my rescue. I had breakfast with a solid antiques dealer this morning. We were discussing his retirement plans and the huge decrease in the value of his 401(k) retirement-plan assets. I explained to him that the stock-market downturn could last another 18 months, and nobody knows where the “bottom” is. He studied my comment for some time. He then frankly said, “There is no choice. My antiques investments either in inventory or self-owned have not let me down in over 50 years. I will buy more antique inventory and more antiques for my own personal collection.”

Antiques hold value

That was a powerful statement by a knowledgeable market participant. In his more than 50 years of store ownership, his inventory of antiques has held its value. His personal antiques collection did the same.

I thought of the many antiques collectors I know. The oyster-plate collection of my friend in Hanover, Md., has had significant increases in value each time we review her estate plan. The Winchester-rifle collection of an old friend who died recently had increased in value over the years. The basic inventories of our antiques dealers have kept ahead of inflation every since I have helped the antiques dealers take inventory. That is over 50 years!

Now is the best time to invest in antiques for fun and/or profit. Any questions?

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