Collections-of anything-provide more than a hobby; they can actually be a lucrative investment for the future. Value is in the eye of the beholder, and avid collectors will pay top price to secure that one missing piece to complete the series.

"If we only knew…." Those are words spoken by many a remorseful adult who sold a baseball card now worth thousands. From toy farm tractors, Barbie dolls, Beanie Babies, and Star Wars figures to thimbles, letter openers, coins, cookbooks, and record albums-all are priceless to someone. Collecting is a way of passing on something more valuable than money. "Collecting presents a way for parents to transfer wealth, as well as culture," explained one collector. From Disney pins to works of art, families can pass on a family legacy.

A friend told me her gourmet chef sister has purchased various food and wine magazine subscriptions for her children since birth. Hopefully, to pique their interest in fine dining and food preparation and display, but also to provide them a history and cultural tour of tastes and trends during their lifetime. It may take a few years for the gifts to be appreciated, and if not, the entire collections may be a valuable eBay item. Storing and preserving the collection as it grows is the challenge.

I’ve smiled at my son, whose collections progressed from Matchbox cars as a preschooler, to baseball cards in grade school, to record albums as a teen and young adult. Second-hand book and record stores are a destination for him in every new city he travels to. The popularity of search engines and eBay encourages collectors’ habits by making it easier to buy, sell, and trade.

I’ve thought about taping pieces of paper on each of my collectibles-not because of their high monetary value, but to let children and grandchildren know that they’re of value, if only sentimental. I’ve walked into many homes and offices and admired unique displays. Intriguing conversation always ensues, regardless of the items collected.

The Arts Alive! office proudly collects and displays the annual Peoria Art Guild Fine Art Fair posters, as well as special event posters. Pleasing to the eye and generating fond memories of each year’s event, the posters also stimulate enthusiasm for the next year. The signed posters are even more valuable to us.

The treasure is in whatever catches your eye-begin your collection today. AA!