So as nearly as I can tell, 'collectables" are things that are going to be valuable antiques some time in the future. This might seem silly, but think about it for a moment. How is it any different then pondering, researching, and going to extreme lengths to figure out which little start-up company is going to me the next IBM or Intel? There is -of course- one big difference. Collectables are just a heck of a lot more fun. The stock market has done well during certain periods, and not so well during other periods. Can you say the same thing about Star Wars Action Figures? PEZ dispensers? Charlie's Angles lunch-boxes with the thermos intact? I think not.
There is another element to 'collectables' and it has to do with sentimentality. In this case it means -or I take it to mean- things of our childhoods, and the older we are, the older are the things from our childhood, and the more poignant we might feel if we were to happen across -as an example that happened to me recently, (when I was old), a Polaris Submarine lunch-box from (?) 1961 that I had when I was in 1st grade.
It is also 'sentimentality' that psychologists and such-like use to explain some of what goes on in the pumpkins of some of us when we collect 'collectables.' These are the mild cases. There are other words they use when describing compulsive collectors. I sort it all out in my article The Physiology of Collecting. (And yep -I am no less qualified then anyone with a PhD to explain it all 'cause they don't understand it either. I just do it quicker and with smaller words.)
All in all, we come back to FUN as justification for collecting collectables. Cheaper then antiques too. Your contemporaries might not have had a Polaris Submarine, but they will remember the stuff from their own and probably find your collection compelling. Your kids & grand-kids might not understand it, but if your collection remains intact long enough for your great-grand-to inherit it, it will be 'antique' and maybe valuable. Trick it to keep it intact. Here are some thoughts as to how to do so:
Storing and Displaying Collectables:
My problem is coming up with advice on how to store and or display things as small as PEZ or a large as lunch boxes. Disneyana and Mickey Mouse painted plates in a old dresser? A curio cabinet would be in order. How about a display case for your collection of American Flyer Pedal Cars? Can't be done. So here is what I suggest for the REALLY dedicated collector. Check out Architectural Casework and turn a room into your own Home Museum. Turn the whole room into one big display case. Otherwise, have a look at My Products page and see what fits the bill.
Having run out of advice on storing & protecting collectables in pretty short order, I am reduced to offering advice on...
Finally, I am pleased to be able to offer Daniel Arnet's thoughts on Why We Collect. Good read!
This is a slight departure from my usual suggestions, but I think a very worthwhile one. An old friend from China is starting up a gift exporting business with some wonderful ideas and products. Check out VitaGift. It's pretty new, but I am looking forward to watching her grow her business!
The Heritage Bookshop and Bindery is a wonderful site all about books, and books is what I collect. Probably a good thing I don't live in LA where these folks have their shop. I'd be broke and destitute an living on the street -BUT, I'd be pushing a grocery-cart full of beautiful first-edition books.
For the sentimental sort, Cherish Collectables has some lovely stuff. Hand painted even!
Time Passages is all about nostalgic memorabilia, pop culture, historic items, and "Shoe Box Toys." A fun site that doesn't take itself too seriously.
This old boy is some-kinda dedicated to collecting Beer Cans. Great Site!
Museum Spot is a database for -and this may surprise you- MUSEUMS, but it's organized by category. So if you collect -f'rinstance photographs, Museum Spot will tell you where to find a photography museum.
CollectOS sez 'Whatever you collect, they have Online Service for you. Appears to be true. A nice, well organized, and interesting site.