How to Earn Money by Collecting

How to Earn Money by Collecting

Get rich and preserve history...

As some of you may have noticed we’ve become slightly obsessed with collections over the past few months.  It’s not just the nostalgia or aesthetic elements we love about people’s collections, nor is it their power of preservation.  The right collection can earn you a lot of money (or if left behind, can make for a great inheritance).  With that in mind, here are the most expensive collections in the world and tips on how you can start your own.


Vintage Jewellery

One of the most expensive jewellery collections ever sold was that of Elizabeth Taylor.  Sold at a New York auction in 2011 the entire collection sold for a staggering $137,200,000 (approximately £93.5 million).

Vintage jewellery - pearls, brooches and earrings

Tips for starting your own vintage jewellery collection…
  1. Vintage costume jewellery holds its value so train your eye for these sorts of pieces.  Find your favourite era because each has a slightly different design element that is bound to capture your fascination.  
  2. Buy it because you love it.  The more beautiful your collection, the more inspired you’ll be to add to it!
  3. Don’t shop in obvious places – try vintage flea markets, charity shops and car boot sales.
  4. Learn how to spot fakes – familiarise yourself with stamps, materials, signs of wear and weight.  
  5. Store and protect your collection – you can buy individual pouches for your jewellery in order to keep it out of harm’s way.  Remember to insure the collection as it grows!

Antique Tea Cups

Tiffany & Co. designed a sterling silver coffee and tea service which sold for a whopping $54,000 (approximately £36,700) in 2013.  That’s one expensive cuppa!Antique tea cup and saucer   

Tips for starting your own tea cup collection…
  1. Research popular manufacturers and get to know their stamps and signatures.
  2. Look into vintage markets and fairs where you can pick up tea cups and tea cup sets.  Don’t forget to haggle!
  3. Check for signs of wear and tear.  Serious stains?  A crack?  Be aware of any damage and how it may affect value.
  4. Keep an eye out for ‘made in China’ stamps.  This might mean it’s a modern remake!
  5. Know how to take care of your cups, especially if you plan to use them.  They should never be washed in the dishwasher, come into contact with harsh soaps or be soaked.  


Sir Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager, is well known amongst wine connoisseurs for his collection of over 5,000 bottles of wine.  Valued at roughly £3 million, the collection sold at auction in Hong Kong for just over £2.6 million in 2014.

Wine bottles in a rack

Tips for starting your own wine collection…
  1. Collecting wine isn’t just for the super-rich or wine snobs.  Your wine collection can be built up slowly over a number of years as your knowledge grows.
  2. Look into wines that will age nicely if you’re planning to store them over a long period of time.  Some wines are not created to be aged so do your research and understand which wines will withstand the test of time.
  3. Improper storage can ruin a wine so do your homework and look at the best conditions for your bottles.  
  4. Once you’ve set your bottles away for ageing, don’t touch them again until they’re ready to be sold. 
  5. Know when to sell your bottles.  Wine will fetch the best price when sold between one and three years before the recommended serving time.


The most valuable art collection in the world is said to belong to Ezra and David Nahmad.  The brothers’ collection is valued at $3 billion (that’s approximately £204.5 million!).

Vibrant abstract oil painting

Tips for starting your own art collection…
  1. Again, this isn’t just a hobby for the super wealthy.  Art is subjective and there’s tonnes of it available, so don’t be put off by the elite collectors of the world.
  2. Discover your preferred style of painting and perhaps start off by purchasing limited edition prints.  It’s a cheaper alternative and is a great way of owning pieces of work by well-known artists. 
  3. Do some online research and understand your budget.  It might not be sensible to go all out and spend thousands on a painting or sculpture when you don’t know the artist.
  4. As a general rule, the bigger the work, the more expensive.  Before you start investing in whopping great canvases, map out your living space and decide what will fit where.
  5. Talk to the art community – there are experts out there (and other collectors with the same intentions as you) who would be more than willing to impart advice.  Networking is a great way to get savvy advice if you’re unsure yourself!

Antique Books

One of the most expensive books ever sold at auction was a first edition Bay Psalm Book.  The edition was printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1640 and there are only 11 surviving copies in the world.  It sold for an incredible $14,165,000 in 2013 (approximately £9.6 million). A stack of old books

Tips for starting your own book collection…
  1. Start off by buying books that you love - your favourite genre, author, era and so on.  There’s no need to get carried away with first/limited editions right away!
  2. Get to know rare books – speak to book dealers, do your research thoroughly and learn to understand book ‘conditions’ and terminology.
  3. Condition is gospel in the book collecting world.  If something is old and rare but in dire condition, the value will be affected severely.  Old, rare and in perfect condition however? Cha-ching!
  4. There are tonnes of sources that can help you work out the ‘fair market value’ of books, whether you carry out a search online or speak to a book specialist.
  5. Build up a relationship with a rare book dealer.  They can guide you through the reams of editions, authors, genres and value as they know books like the back of their hands.

So there we have it, folks.  Instead of investing in property or shares for future generations, how about starting a collection or two?  Hopefully they'll age as beautifully as you will and your successors will have something fascinating to remember you by!

If you’ve got a quirky collection you’d like to share with the world, get in touch by leaving a comment below. 

Discover more collector articles on Safestore’s blog where you’ll find a range of topics; from world record attempts to quirky collection facts and more.  Or, if you require storage for a collection of your own we have a range of self storage options in over 100 locations – find your nearest store for a quote today.

Get a Self Storage Quote

Find a store by entering a postcode, city or town below.
Find a store & Get a quote

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
 Security code
There are no comments yet
Complete your quote

You’re almost done!

Complete your quote at