Life & Style

You are what you collect

It's about finding and discovering. This awakens people's instinct to hunt and gather. But what is worthwhile? We went in search of the latest trends and findings for collectors.

  • Text
    Jack Weil
  • Head Image
    Louis Vuitton

The "Grand Watermelon" is a thousand US dollar note from 1890, which was last auctioned for 3.29 million dollars. That's a return of around 25 per cent per year. Not bad either: the poster for the 1927 silent film "Metropolis", in the international version, realised 1.2 million dollars at auction. Only four copies are known to exist, one of which is owned by Leonardo DiCaprio. Stan the T-Rex - The world's most expensive fossil is one of the most complete T-Rex skeletons and was sold at Christie's in 2020 for 31.8 million dollars. The sale of dinosaur skeletons is controversial, as private collectors can often offer more than public institutions.

unsplash.com / John Butterworth
unsplash.com / John Butterworth
There are many examples like these. And there are more and more. The world of collectors is as diverse as the objects they covet. Andreas Urs Sommer, Professor of Philosophy with a focus on cultural philosophy at the Albert Ludwig University in Freiburg, analysed it like this in a highly regarded essay in 2023:

"Prejudices consider collectors to be simple-minded creatures. How they compete with their peers, snatch each other's favourite pieces and are bound to each other in a heartfelt love-hate relationship. Those with pre-snobs consider collectors to be one-dimensional beings - beings with a frighteningly simple economy of desire, only concerned with acquiring and having, possibly due to early childhood traumatisation."

However, Sommer goes on to explicitly point out that the topic needs to be considered in a far more complex and reflective way. So what drives people not only to collect, but also to pay astronomical sums for their passion? And what is really worth it? What are the new insider tips?

Psychological aspects of collecting

The psychology of collecting has attracted the attention of researchers trying to understand why people feel a strong attraction to collecting. One of the theories is that collecting objects is linked to an innate human tendency to seek and secure resources. It fulfils the need for control, order and security. Collecting also offers a way of expressing identity and self-esteem. The objects that are collected can represent personal memories, interests or passions. Collecting can also serve as a creative expression as collectors construct their own stories and meanings around their collections.

The current trend of collecting is experiencing a renaissance these days, driven by digital networking, online platforms and an increasingly globalised world. A variety of collectibles are gaining popularity, from art and wines to vintage watches and sports memorabilia.

Vintage watches:

The era of oversized watches is coming to an end, while vintage watches from the 1960s are increasing in value. Experts advise discovering these elegant timepieces, as they are often undervalued and offer genuine vintage charm. Example: The "simple" Omega Seamasters and the even more affordable Genève models. According to watch expert Berry Harleman, models from the 1960s are elegant but probably still undervalued, making them worth discovering.

Sports cars: 

There are no two opinions about the value of the Porsche 911. Not even among collectors. The situation is a little different for other models. The Boxster and Cayman in particular are often overshadowed by the 911, and wrongly so. Experts are expecting a significant upturn here in 2024.


Sports memorabilia:

At a time when sport is taking centre stage in pop culture, sports memorabilia is becoming increasingly popular. Shirts that were actually worn by professional athletes in competition, known as matchworn shirts, and signed memorabilia from legendary sports icons are coveted collector's items. Until recently, you had to have personal connections or be very lucky to get such shirts, as they were given to you by the athlete in the arena. Thanks to online platforms, however, they can now be purchased by anyone. "Some shirts are full of mud and sweat," explains Gustavo Radesca, sports expert at Catawiki.

Olympic Games 2024:

With the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, interest in everything related to the Olympics is growing. Ancient Olympic coins and other items representing the Greek origins of the Games are gaining in popularity.

Quiet luxury in fashion and accessories:

The fashion sector is moving away from eye-catching brand logos in favour of "quiet luxury". Investments in high-quality, durable materials such as silk and cashmere are taking centre stage. Bags without eye-catching logos and classic writing instruments from Montblanc are examples of this subtle luxury trend.


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