Sell Your Collection the Right Way

When it’s time to sell your collection, careful planning lightens the load.

| October 2014

  • Building a collection, as any collector knows, is the fun part. Disposing of it is another thing altogether.
    Photo by Fotolia/Dmytro Smaglov

Why do you collect? The first question to ask is this: “Why do I collect what I collect?” Perhaps your collection is family-related. Perhaps you enjoy the hunt or the travel associated with collecting. Perhaps you like to barter; perhaps you see your collection as an investment. Whether your collection is big or small, the motivation behind your hobby has great bearing on how you dispose of those items.

The next question to ask is this: “Why do I want to get rid of my collection?” Many people dispose of a collection when they begin to see it as clutter or when they downsize. Those who’ve built a collection as an investment may, at some point, choose to convert collectibles into cash. Some simply lose interest in their collection; others become interested in a new category.

Too often, from my perspective, the collector becomes ill or dies and family members are left to contend with a collection. If family members know your feelings, their job becomes much easier.

It is very important that your family or heirs know about your collection, where it is housed, why you have it and what you want done with it. To a person unfamiliar with collecting in general or with the items you have, the prospect of dealing with a large collection can be overwhelming. If you take nothing else away from this article, understand that one of your responsibilities as a collector is to help your family understand your thoughts on your collection — both the pleasures it brought to you, and the way in which you would dispose of it if you were able.

How do I dispose of a collection?

Collectors should be prepared to dispose of a collection themselves, or leave detailed instructions outlining their wishes. The more work you do toward disposal, the more reward you will recognize. The easiest option, of course, is to do nothing. That option is easy for the collector but creates much work and worry for family members. And you will have almost no control over what happens to your collection.

Alternatively, you could give the collection to interested friends or relatives or donate it to a club or museum. Seek legal counsel to ensure that your intentions are clear to all involved. This can prevent subsequent disputes, although it is almost inevitable that someone will be displeased by your decision.


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