The Most Valuable Collectibles You Can Own

Collecting unique artifacts and treasures has been a passion of humans for centuries. While hobbyists derive enjoyment from building their collections, many high-end collectibles also attract investors and entrepreneurs drawn to their potential for appreciation and financial returns. This comprehensive guide will explore some of the most valuable collectible assets across various categories and provide tips on how to maintain and optimize their market value over time as a collector.

Art – Paintings, Sculptures and Prints


Famous paintings by renowned artists are among the blue chip collectible assets that have demonstrated an ability to continually reach new high water marks at auction over decades. Works by Old Masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer and legendary 19th/20th century artists including Picasso, Monet, Warhol and Basquiat have commanded prices from the tens of millions up to even over $450 million in the case of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. Even paintings that are not masterpiece level can still be quite valuable from established artists.


Like paintings, sculptures from famous artists both historical and modern grace the collections of top museums and discerning private collectors. Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Henry Moore and Alberto Giacometti are just some of the sculptors whose works are highly sought after and can sell for millions depending on the size, materials, subject matter and rarity of the piece.


While less pricey than original paintings and sculptures, limited edition prints numbered and signed by the artist also command substantial prices from collectors and investors. Prints allow more participants to own art from blue-chip artists, although lower print numbers in the series are the most covetable. Prints from Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Japanese woodblock masters like Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai remain icons with devotees worldwide.

How to Maintain Value

  • Carefully research the artist’s catalog of works to identify legitimacy and rarity
  • Verify authenticity to avoid costly forgeries – get expert opinions
  • For fragile pieces, properly frame, mount or display using archival materials
  • Control lighting, humidity and temperature to prevent degradation
  • Minimize handling to avoid damaging condition
  • Store securely in fireproof safes or offsite facilities to protect against theft, fire, flooding and disasters
  • Insure fully against damage and document with extensive photographs
  • Keep certificates of authenticity and provenance paperwork establishing history and ownership chronology

Antiques – Furniture, Clocks, Silver, China


Antique furniture in good condition from renowned craftsmen and sought-after periods like Chippendale, Queen Anne and Art Deco can be tremendously valuable. Credenzas, chairs, desks, tables, cabinets and other case pieces from the 17th-20th centuries are collected by connoisseurs and interior designers. Unique or historical properties with celebrity associations increase appeal.


Clocks with ornate craftsmanship, complicated movements, or from esteemed makers like Cartier command huge auction prices from horological collectors. Clocks with exotic materials, automata elements, and astronomical functions are especially prized. Table, mantel and wall clocks from the 16th-19th centuries perform best when aesthetically and mechanically sound.


Sterling silver objects several hundred years old from renowned smiths are coveted by antique silver collectors, as are sets of cutlery, tea services and serving pieces monogrammed or passed down through prominent families. American, English and European silver from Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical and other periods see high demand at antique shows and auctions.


Porcelain dishware and tea sets from luxury makers like Meissen, Limoges, Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and Royal Copenhagen hold significant value, as do one-of-a-kind vases, urns and centerpieces. Age, condition, rarity, decorative styles, and artist marks impact pricing.

How to Maintain Value

  • Repair any structural damage properly without altering original aspects
  • Avoid harsh cleaning chemicals that can damage fragile materials
  • Dust and clean using appropriate techniques for the material and age
  • Maintain functioning moving parts like clock mechanisms
  • Keep pieces from direct sunlight which can cause fading
  • Control humidity which can warp wood and damage metals over time
  • Store safely away from potential leaks, pests, and accidents
  • Document with photographs, receipts and certificates of authenticity

Coins – Gold, Silver, Rare Coins

Gold Coins

Gold coins like the pre-1933 United States Double Eagle $20 coin and Krugerrand 1 oz gold coin containing actual gold have intrinsic bullion value in addition to numismatic value. Historic gold coin issues in good condition from ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Middle Ages sources also attract collector interest.

Silver Coins

High purity silver coins including the American Silver Eagle 1 oz coin, Morgan silver dollars minted from 1878-1921, and older silver coinage with silver content over 90% are popular for both precious metal value and historical significance. Key date rarities and special proof editions command substantial premiums.

Rare Coins

Aside from bullion value in precious metals, rare coin issues with very low mintages like the 1804 Silver Dollar, 1913 Liberty Head Nickel and 1909-S VDB Lincoln Wheat Cent can be tremendously valuable due to scarcity and demand from collectors seeking to complete collections. Unique errors and unusual die varieties also attract numismatists.

How to Maintain Value

  • Never clean coins as this damages the original patinated surfaces valued by collectors
  • Handle coins carefully by edges only to prevent contact marks and fingerprints
  • Store in protective capsules, folders or albums to avoid contact and environmental damage
  • Control temperature and humidity to prevent corrosion
  • Document coins with high resolution photographs capturing both obverse and reverse sides
  • Have valuable coins graded and certified by respected services like PCGS or NGC to confirm condition
  • Keep securely away from potential theft and utilize safety deposit boxes for the highest value pieces

Stamps & Postal History

Extremely rare stamps with unique stories like the British Guiana 1¢ Magenta and the Inverted Jenny stamp from 1918 command prices in the millions for individual stamps. High quality stamp collections assembled by savvy philatelists over decades also attract interest from museums and fellow collectors when offered for sale. Rare usages on cover like first flight mail can also be very collectible.

How to Maintain Value

  • Handle stamps carefully using stamp tongs to examine them; never touch directly with fingers
  • Keep stamps stored in albums or stock pages designed for protecting stamps
  • Use stamp mounts to affix stamps in albums without damaging them
  • Organize and catalogue stamps in logical ways by country, time period, condition, etc.
  • Research historical significance, condition rarity for individual rare stamps
  • Have valuable stamps expertized by respected stamp authentication entities to confirm legitimacy
  • Document collections thoroughly with detailed records, certificates, photographs
  • Protect stamps from direct light, humidity changes and atmospheric contaminants
  • Store high value collections in security vaults to safeguard against loss

Sports Memorabilia – Cards, Jerseys & Equipment


Rookie cards, autographs and rare inserts of iconic sports figures like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali sell for staggering sums at auction. High grade mint condition drives the highest prices from collectors and investors. Even baseball cards from the 1980s and 90s have seen resurgent interest and increasing values.

Jerseys & Equipment

Game worn or autographed jerseys, helmets, bats and other equipment used in memorable moments by sports legends also attract collector demand and headline memorabilia auctions. Jerseys worn by Michael Jordan and LeBron James or a bat used by Babe Ruth to hit 60 home runs in a season resonate with fans.

How to Maintain Value

  • Verify authenticity to prevent purchasing counterfeit items
  • Carefully handle memorabilia to avoid fraying, smudging or damage
  • Frame jerseys properly using archival materials away from direct light
  • Avoid cleaning equipment and uniforms to maintain original patina
  • Keep cards in protective sleeves, toploaders and albums to prevent wear
  • Control temperature and humidity for optimal preservation
  • Insure rare items for full value and document thoroughly in records and photographs
  • Keep high security around memorabilia storage to deter theft
  • Research player significance, career records and past sale prices to ascertain historical value

Gemstones – Diamonds, Emeralds, Rubies

Precious gemstones, especially in large high clarity sizes with little treatment, remain coveted possessions going back centuries. The most in-demand gem varieties include:


Diamonds remain the premier gemstone for jewelry and collectors. Key factors like carat, cut, clarity and color determine value. Named diamonds with unique stories like the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian also attract interest along with famous diamonds sold at auction associated with Hollywood or royalty.


Deep green emeralds are especially valued in Columbian and Brazilian examples. Transparency and richness of color drive prices along with size of the stone. Inclusions are very common so higher clarity increases worth for collectors.


Prized for their rich red to pinkish-red hues, fine rubies from Burmese and Thai sources with few eye-visible inclusions fetch enormous per carat prices from jewelry purveyors, investors and gem enthusiasts.

How to Maintain Value

  • Have important gemstones certified by respected labs like GIA that assess carat weight, cut, clarity to facilitate accurate appraisals
  • Take care to avoid chips, fractures or other damage from accidental bumps or improper handling
  • Follow proper cleaning methods for each gemstone type to avoid causing deterioration or clarity issues from abrasion
  • For very valuable stones, consider security vault storage when not being worn or displayed to protect against theft or loss
  • Insure at full appraised value – maintain documentation of any certifications and appraisals
  • Re-evaluate value every few years as markets fluctuate – new certifications may be warranted

Watches – Rolex, Patek Philippe, Vintage Models

Many Swiss watch brands are highly collected including:

Rolex – Submariner, Daytona, GMT Master and other steel sport models from the 1950s onwards command enormous secondary market prices and headline watches sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

Patek Philippe – Complicated dress watches like perpetual calendar chronographs and grand complications are coveted by collectors. Models from the mid 20th century are most desirable.

Audemars Piguet – Models like the vintage Royal Oak designed by Gérald Genta are icons of luxury sports watches with soaring resale values.

Vintage watches – Historically significant models from brands like Vacheron Constantin, A. Lange & Söhne and IWC also attract demand from collectors of vintage timepieces. Models with exotic dial complications and movements in good condition perform best.

How to Maintain Value

  • Service watch every 5 years or as needed to keep the movement functioning properly
  • Purchase from reputable dealers and authenticate before buying to avoid costly fakes
  • Keep original boxes, papers, hang tags to prove provenance
  • Use protective watch cases for storage and travel to prevent damage
  • Avoid over-polishing during service to prevent erasing original hallmarks
  • Control humidity in storage spaces to prevent corrosion
  • For gold watches, periodically polish bracelets and cases very delicately to maintain original luster
  • Keep detailed records of watch specs, background, service history

Vintage Automobiles – Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes, American Classics

Automobile collecting has grown massively as marques like Ferrari and Mercedes have become global status brands. Classic cars from the 1950s-1970s have also surged in popularity as nostalgia for mid-century styles has increased.

Ferrari – Pedigree vintage production and race cars from Enzo Ferrari’s storied Italian stable are fixtures at auctions like Pebble Beach. Models from the 1950s-60s like the 250 GTO can bring over $50 million at sale.

Porsche – Early lightweight Porsche 356 and 911 models from the 1950-70s with racing heritage and fresh restorations bring huge auction prices and headline events like Monterey Car Week.

Mercedes – Mid 20th century Mercedes models spanning prized road cars like the 300 SL Gullwing to legendary race cars such as the W196 Silver Arrows have rapidly ascended as blue-chip collectibles.

American – Muscle cars like vintage 1960s Ford Mustangs, Shelby Cobras and Chevrolet Corvettes in concours condition attract die-hard enthusiasts and command premium pricing.

How to Maintain Value

  • Perform meticulous restoration/refurbishment properly based on original specs
  • Keep detailed maintenance logs to document work done over the years
  • Allow only vintage car specialists to handle repairs mechanical, electrical and cosmetic
  • Store in climate controlled spaces away from weather extremes and humidity
  • Restrict mileage after restoration to minimize wear – use primarily for shows
  • Keep exterior surfaces protected with professional detailing multiple times a year
  • Utilize specially insured collector car transporters for vehicle relocation

Rare Books – First Editions, Manuscripts, Signed Copies

First edition and limited print run hardcover books signed by the author, especially modern classics and luxury folio editions, attract bibliophile interest. Rare printed manuscripts and handwritten materials like letters and diaries relating to historically important figures also have strong collector appeal.

How to Maintain Value

  • Handle gently to avoid structural damage and detached pages
  • Never apply pressure to book spines which can break
  • Do not write in or highlight rare editions – keep in original state
  • Avoid direct sunlight which can damage covers and pages
  • Control humidity which can warp covers and cause mold
  • Repair only by elite book restoration specialists – no at home fixes
  • Store in archival boxes on shelves safe from pests, accidents or weather events
  • Never clean or polish rare books – appreciate the natural aging patina
  • Insure and document with photographs to facilitate recovery if lost/damaged

Fine Wine – First Growth Bordeaux, Cult California Cabernets

Rare wines from eminent domains in Bordeaux like Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Latour with perfect provenance command astronomical prices at auction.Category killers from Napa like Screaming Eagle have also attracted global investor attention.

How to Maintain Value

  • Store unopened bottles properly on their sides in temperature/humidity controlled wine cellar spaces
  • Avoid direct light and vibration which can compromise quality over time
  • Inspect bottles and fill levels periodically; top off natural ullage and replace corks if needed
  • Research weather and transport conditions for each bottle’s journey from the chateau to provide buyers confidence
  • Save all original wooden cases and paperwork
  • Insure valuable bottles – catalog with extensive bottle-level notes including images
  • Handle delicately when transporting bottles to avoid shakes or jostles
  • Allow to breathe and settle before tasting older vintages after transport
  • Utilize professional wine storage and shipping providers for valuable collections

Final Thoughts

The collectibles covered in this guide represent only a sample of the countless items prized by collectors worldwide for their rarity, historical significance, and potential for appreciation. Passionate enthusiasts find deep fulfillment building noteworthy collections in these categories over time. But for investors fixated strictly on rapidly profiting by trading these items, caution is warranted, as considerable risks exist when prices escalate beyond intrinsic values. This content is for informational and entertainment purposes only and not professional financial advice. As with any investment, exercising due diligence is imperative before entering the market for rare collectibles.


  • Sarah Teague

    Sarah Teague brings 5 years of professional writing experience to her role as content writer for Walletminded. In this position, Sarah creates compelling articles, blog posts, and other digital content that engage readers and promote the Walletminded brand. Before joining Walletminded, Sarah honed her writing skills as a freelance writer and ghostwriter. Her work included crafting blog posts and web content for financial services, technology, and healthcare clients. Sarah holds a bachelor's degree in English from Emory University, where she also served as editor of the campus literary journal. She continues to volunteer her time as a writing mentor for youth in her community. When she's not meticulously crafting content, you can find Sarah attempting new baking recipes and enjoying hikes with her dog. She also loves curling up with a good memoir.

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