For the most part, that pile of junk - I mean "collectibles" - in your basement isn't worth anything. Those Beanie Babies are probably worth less than the $10 you paid for them - and those mid-'60s polka records are not appreciating in value. However, there are some rare objects that have really paid off for the people who were able to recognize their value. We take a look at the collectibles - from stamps to comics, from vinyl records to baby toys - that have generated astronomical returns on investment (ROI). (Everything you need to know about finance, you learned during this toy craze. Check out The Beanie Baby Guide To Finance.)

In Pictures: Consumer "Fads" That Never Faded

Super-Powered Returns
Imagine getting an ROI of 1,000,000% over the course of 40 years. That's what happened to the anonymous owner of the first Batman comic who just sold it for $1.075 million, the biggest price on record for a comic book, in February. He bought the 1939 comic for $100 in the late '60s. To make this in a savings account, you'd have to have invested that $100 dollars at an unheard-of interest rate of 26% - compounded annually. Initially, there were many copies of the now-valuable Batman comic; it would take a lot of foresight (or a crystal ball) to even fathom its current million-dollar price tag.

Record Finds
One of the most expensive records ever sold was given to a friend by a member of The Beatles; it was the "White Album" No. 0000005. The first four copies of this record belonged to the "Fab 4", but No.5 went to a friend of John Lennon's. It sold in 2008 for £19,201. Similarly, consider the case of an acetate record by Velvet Underground & Nico, which was purchased at a garage sale in Chelsea, New York, for 75 cents in 2004. Knowing he'd found something special, record collector Warren Hill listened to it and found it was a one-of-a-kind record containing alternate versions of many of the songs that appeared on the band's first LP. Hill later sold the record on eBay (Nasdaq:EBAY) for $25,000. That represents a 3,333,333% return on investment.

Paper Rarity
When it comes to collectible stamps, value can depend just as much on rarity as on the stamp's story. The most famous stamp is the 1856 British Guiana 1-cent stamp in black on magenta. It is estimated to be worth as much as $3 million, but has not been sold since 1980, when it went for $950,000. Although the price of this tiny slice of history has tripled in the past 30 years, the owner of the stamp, John E. du Pont, could have done better in a high-interest savings account, as the stamp's growth in value represents a 3.9% compounded interest rate. His ROI is about 216% over 30 years. He'd better love that stamp, because he could've made a lot more money with almost any other investment vehicle. If du Pont had put his $950,000 in the S&P 500, he could've earned a return of around 1,000%.

Baseball MVP
The Holy Grail of baseball card collecting is the famous T206 Honus Wagner. Unlike the Batman comic or the Velvet Underground record, no one is getting a deal on this card. The card last traded hands in 2007 for $2.35 million. It was sold by Brian Siegel to an unknown buyer. Siegel bought the card for $1.265 million in 2000, representing an ROI of 85% over the course of seven years - which isn't bad. Had he been following the S&P 500, he would've done much worse, and he would've needed a compound interest rate around 9.25% to get the same kind of return in a savings account. This card's value stems mostly from its rarity, as only 57 copies (out of the original 60) exist, and this particular one is in the best condition.

Big-Return Barbie
Toys are a mostly fad-driven product, but some brands and characters have stood the test of time - and it has paid off for those who have trusted in the product. Profiting from a toy isn't much fun, particularly for children: you have to keep the toy in brand-new condition (no touching!) for about 50 years. The original Barbie goes for around $8,000, and was released in 1959 for $3. If you had the foresight (or discipline) to keep one of these Barbies in its original box, you'd be looking at an ROI of 266,666% over 50 years. To match this in a traditional investment, you'd need to have a 17.1% compounding interest.

Stadium-Sized Investment
When Dave from Kansas saw a news story about someone selling the Nintendo game "Stadium Events" for $13,000, he checked in his basement, found a sealed copy of the game with the $29.99 price tag still on it, and sold it for $41,300 on eBay. Had he taken that $30 and put it in any investment in 1987 (the year of the game's release), he would've needed a roughly 37% interest rate per year to reach the same amount. For this game, Dave got an ROI of 137,666% over 23 years, when the S&P 500 would've netted him around 300%.

For the most part, collectibles aren't going to appreciate faster than the stock market - or even a high-interest savings account. However, in some rare and lucky instances, collectibles can have ROIs that put other investment and savings vehicle to shame. (For more on getting into this type of investment, see Contemplating Collectible Investments.)

Related Articles
  1. Term

    Understanding Total Returns

    Total return measures the rate of return earned from an investment over a period of time.
  2. Technical Indicators

    Use Market Volume Data to Determine a Bottom

    Market bottoms often carve out classic volume patterns that let observant traders make fast and accurate calls.
  3. Personal Finance

    The World's Most Luxurious Vacation Retreats

    White sand beaches, nature preserves, amazing hot springs...if you're looking for heaven on earth, these spots qualify.
  4. Savings

    How Volatile Exchange Rates Affect Your Vacation

    Those ever-changing fluctuations can make a difference in anything from your hotel room to an ATM transaction.
  5. Stock Analysis

    Should You Follow Millionaires into This Sector?

    Millionaire investors—and those who follow them—should take another look at the current economic situation before making any more investment decisions.
  6. Personal Finance

    6 Tips for Investing in Antiques

    Historically, antiques are highly appreciating assets, but be prepared for a long-term investment.
  7. Professionals

    The Rich Get Richer: Global Wealth is Rising

    Global wealth is rising and expected to continue. Advisors should know that the wealthy value fee transparency, performance.
  8. Investing News

    How 'Honesty' Could Pay off for Jessica Alba

    Is it possible that Jessica Alba is one of the savviest businesswomen on the planet?
  9. Personal Finance

    JetSuite Simplifies Private Jet Rental

    Chartering your own plane just got a bit more affordable.
  10. Professionals

    5 Unique Assets to Invest Your Retirement Money In

    Investing for retirement doesn't always mean 401(k)s and IRAs. Here are five unique assets to invest your retirement money in.
  1. Gallerist

    The owner or operator of an art gallery. Gallerists buy and sell ...
  2. Chandelier Bid

    A bid that is announced by an auctioneer during an auction that ...
  3. Lyon & Turnbull

    An auction house established in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1826. ...
  4. Phillips

    A New York-based auction house specializing in the sale of art ...
  5. Original Print

    A work of art that is created using a master image carved into ...
  6. Proof

    An impression of a print made before an edition to check the ...
  1. Why are fee-based accounts preferred by many high net worth individuals (HNWI)?

    High net worth individuals (HNWIs) often prefer fee-based investment accounts for reasons that include reduced conflicts ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are money market accounts for short-term investments a good idea?

    Money market accounts are a good idea for short-term investments. Some of the desired traits in short-term investments are ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Why do bond coupon rates vary so greatly?

    There are two major reasons coupon rates vary: changes in market interest rates and the creditworthiness of the issuer. Newly ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the best ETN for trading mid-cap stocks?

    Exchange-traded notes (ETN) are different from exchange-traded funds (ETF) in that their values are not backed by actual ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Is it better practice to use a stop order or a limit order?

    Both stop orders and limit orders have their advantages and disadvantages; traders need to decide between the two based on ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What risk factors should investors consider before purchasing a callable bond?

    A number of risk components should be considered in regard to any bond investment since bonds, like any investment, do carry ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!