I’m often asked this by collectors and wanna-be collectors alike. It might seem like a bit of a basic question, I mean, most people know what interests them, whether its AFL, cricket, League, cars, military or flowers, but there is just so much out there, and whether the mind of the collector is cluttered or orderly, it can be hard working out where to start.

Rule number one which will save your finances and sanity is this:

You cannot collect everything!

Believe me, many people before you – both princes and paupers – have tried and failed, it’s just not possible, so give that up now.


Next, decide if you want to specialise, or at least think about what you want to concentrate on the most, and what might just pique your interest from time to time. For example I collect footy and a bit of cricket, but also love some of the ’70s trade series that I grew up with, like Kung Fu and Planet of the Apes. I also find it hard to resist some of the series from the late 1800s and early 1900s, the artwork in that era on series like the American Tobacco Company “Beauties” and early ships, racehorses and other series is wonderful. Setting boundaries is very useful for the collector.


Think about how your collection might look. Will cards be your focus? Or do you like posters, stickers, or non-paper paraphernalia like mugs, plaques and framed items like boots or jerseys? Cards will be easier to catalogue and store, and also easier to sell if you decide to move them on as the prices are more stable, and they are easier to package and post.


Your budget should also be considered – it’s worthwhile setting parameters for spending and what you pay will be often influenced by the quality and rarity of items. If you decide to specialise on 1970s and ’80s footy cards for example, they are plentiful and affordable. If you decide to collect turn of last century buttons and pins however, you’ll be searching longer and paying more.


Many collectors consider how their items will appreciate in value, or buy to hand down to their children or grandchildren.  While the thought of your investment growing and then being passed on when you go may have appeal, it’s not a great strategy.

Firstly, many of the sportspeople or items you love now will be forgotten in future eras, we’ve already seen the value of some stars of the past plummet in value, and what you pay now is never guaranteed to increase.

Secondly, your ancestors probably won’t appreciate your collection quite the way you do, and if they inherit it in that time of their life when they are more focussed on establishing themselves – like buying a house, a car or travelling – your collection will be wrapped up and sold, possibly for less than its true worth.

In a nutshell – don’t do it.


Probably the last consideration is to work out how you will find and purchase items for your collection. Online marketplaces such as eBay, Facebook and Gumtree are popular, but many people lack trust in these systems or can’t be bothered jumping through all the digital hoops.

If you like face to face trading, there are markets and fairs you can attend, such as those held quarterly by the Australian Cartophilic Society.

There are also several auction houses within Australia and plenty overseas who offer collectables of all types. Watch out though – your bids will carry a 20% premium if you are the winner, so don’t forget to calculate that in when bidding.

Happy collecting – hope you found this helpful, feel free to share your thoughts or what you like collecting below.

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