Collectibles as Investments

Cable television shows like “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers” have reinvigorated interest in the collectible market.

“Pawn Stars” gives a glimpse into the world-famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas The store was opened in 1989 by Richard “Old Man” Harrison and his son Rick. Old Man died in 2018, but the show, which premiered in 2009, continues with the younger Harrison, his son Corey and Corey’s childhood friend Chumlee. The program shows how customers bring in unique and sometimes quirky collectibles to sell or to pawn. The prices that Harrison and company pay for some of these items are often surprising.

“American Pickers” originally followed Mike Wolfe and his friend Frank Fritz as they traveled around the country looking for collectibles they could resell at a profit. During the show, Wolfe and Fritz often called Danielle Colby, who runs the office at Wolfe’s Antique Archeology in LeClaire, Iowa. Since the start of the show, Wolfe has also opened a second location in Nashville, Tennessee.

Fritz has sold his picks at his store, Frank Fritz Finds, in Savannah, Illinois. Fritz left the show in 2021 and reportedly suffered a stroke in 2022. Wolfe and Fritz would dig through old warehouses, attics, basements, sheds and who knows where else, in search of that special item — a pick — that a collector might pay a lot of money for.

What is a collectible?

Essentially a collectible — what people sell on “Pawn Stars” or what Wolfe and Fritz pick — is anything worth more today than what it was worth originally. Collectibles have no intrinsic value, unlike stocks, bonds or real estate. Fine art, antiques, stamps, books, coins, trading cards, comic books and antiquities can all be considered collectibles.

Collectibles in demand today are items such as old video game consoles, concert posters, art-deco clocks, old metal lunch boxes (think Roy Rogers or Star Wars), vinyl records, baseball cards, comic books, first-edition old books, advertising signs and equestrian paintings.

Where can you find collectibles to purchase?​

You could certainly visit the Harrisons’ store in Las Vegas or get in touch with Wolfe, Fritz or Colby. Who knows? you might even run into Harrison, his son or his friend Chumlee, if they’re not busy filming another “Pawn Stars” episode, as you shop in their store. But buyer beware! A lot of fakes and scams are out there, especially when it comes to sports memorabilia.


The profit made in selling collectibles held for over one year is taxed at the maximum long-term capital gains rate. The profit made in selling collectibles held for less than one year is taxed as ordinary income.

Go for it!​

If you’re one of those folks who enjoys visiting antique stores, surfing eBay listings or shopping at yard sales, making money from collectibles may be just for you. Watch “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers” if you haven’t seen these shows. Check out the next garage sale you drive by. Visit an estate auction. See what’s available on eBay. These are all ways you can become more informed and feel more comfortable buying and selling collectibles.