Tips for Keeping Collectibles Safe

By Dr. Stephenie Slahor

chinese-vaseWhatever makes up your collection, be it art, antiques or collectibles, you want to enjoy it. Whether you own your collection for hobby, profit or fun, you keep it safe for its value to you and its value as an investment.

Storing a collection in a safety-deposit box, safe or other such secured place helps keep it from harm or theft, but then it is hard for you to use or enjoy it.

While having a collection at home may be enjoyable, you should remember that it has a monetary value. Just as you wouldn’t keep large amounts of cash in your house without taking precautions, you should take precautions to safeguard your collection.

Tips for safeguarding your valuables

1. Inventory. Photograph each item in your collection from different angles, and write a detailed description of it. Then store a copy of the description and an extra set of photos in your safety-deposit box or with your attorney. That way, if a thief steals your collection and the list, you can still describe and identify your items.

2. ID Marks. If possible (without causing damage), engrave the item with your name or your driver’s license number and two-letter state abbreviation. Or mark the item with ink that shows up only under “black” light.

3. Insure your collection. If you aren’t sure of its value, have an appraisal done by a reputable appraiser. If the collection is one that appreciates quickly (coins, stamps, firearms, works of art, rare items, etc.), be sure to increase your insurance accordingly. And, of course, when you add items to your collection, add them to your policy.

4. A quality security system. Whether it is a professionally installed system or a do-it-yourself job, get the best you can afford. Turn on the system whenever you aren’t home and at night. Maintain and test it regularly. Turn on the system when you’re away on vacation, and add timers to turn lights and the radio or TV off and on through the day and night. A trusted neighbor or friend should check the house while you’re gone. If you have voicemail, use a message that doesn’t betray the fact you aren’t home. Say something like, “We’re not available right now. Please leave your name and number, and we’ll get back to you when we can.”

If you’re still uneasy about leaving your collection unattended, store it in a bonded warehouse until you return.

5. Reputable Dealers. When you make additions to your collection, buy only from reputable dealers. If a deal sounds too good to be true, you might be buying stolen merchandise or counterfeit items. Ask fellow collectors, a museum curator, librarian and others for the names of reputable dealers in the items you buy.

Use your common sense to keep that collection safe at home so that you may enjoy it—and prosper from it.

If you’d like information on the beautiful Chinese vase pictured above, visit GoAntiques.

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