Collectibles: What to Save, What to Skip

If your "retirement fund" is in the form of a bunch of G.I. Joe comic that you are certain will be worth a fortune someday, we're sorry to say you are likely in for a letdown.

Yo, Dough? Um, try, “Oh no!”

Almost everyone has at least a few "collectibles" stashed away in the hope that they will eventually be worth a lot of money. But many people waste time collecting the wrong stuff (Happy Meal figurines), while items with true collectible value go unnoticed. Here are a few tips on what may – and may not – be worth big bucks years from now.

Collectibles to Skip

Mass-produced trendy novelties. This includes Beanie Babies and novelty cards such as Pokémon. While some have made money on such toys, over the long run they are rarely a solid investment. "Beanie Babies had exceptional marketing done by the maker and as a result, they saturated the market,' says Michelle Isserman, an antiques and collectibles appraiser based in St. Louis and New York. "They became so common that they lost their 'rarity' and thus their value."

Limited editions. "As a general rule I avoid so-called limited edition collectibles," says Bernie Shine of the Shine Gallery in Los Angeles. "These are items that are produced specifically for the collectors market. While they sometimes increase in value over time, more often they do not. Purchasers normally take great measures to care for and preserve such items, and the number of any such items produced is usually the same as the survival rate. The supply changes little, yet the demand often declines."

Common baseball cards (even most autographed ones). As with the other mass-produced items, these cards are too plentiful to be truly collectible. Even a player's signature doesn't boost the value much if there are many other identical cards around. “So called limited edition autographs, where people do signings for baseball card manufacturers, are going to be virtually worthless," says Joe Maddalena, president of Profiles in History, a dealer of guaranteed-authentic historical and entertainment autographs and other collectibles.