"If you are a passionate collector, you can never be one to treat your collection as an investment. Because you will find it impossible to assign a price to your collection or part with it for money," said Rajan Jayakar, solicitor and renowned collector. But he admitted that with age and time, the investor in some matures, and that instinct balances passion with prudence. Mr Jayakar was speaking at a workshop hosted by the Moneylife Foundation on Friday.
Mr Jayakar, who is a huge collector of such regular items like stamps, coins and books, also has some special notable collections of vintage cars, Victorian furniture and Shammi Kapoor memorabilia.
He spoke about how to turn a hobby into investment and gave tips on how to start, how to source items, to assign correct prices while buying and selling items, and how to preserve collectibles. "The big four collectibles are paintings, sculptures, stamps and coins. But there are so many other options and the quirkier ones are often invaluable," said Mr Jayakar.
His advice to every collector is, 'Follow your passion', because that eventually may lead to great investments. "Collectors collect because they want to collect. It is the pleasure derived in accumulating these things that gives the collector a high, not the market value of what they hold," he said. So, he said, every parent and teacher should encourage the child collector.
There are certain things that a collector must do: study his collectible, read up about the field and aim for completion for his collection. He said, "Everything is collectible, but not everything is saleable, because if there is no easy and accessible market for the collectible, it cannot be sold."
He said a collector must be careful about preserving his collection, and insist on getting the items authenticated by the authorities concerned. Mr Jayakar also spoke on the hindrances that Indian collectors face with the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972. "The problem is that markets for collections are all abroad. And if you are forbidden to take anything out of the country, you cannot sell," he said.
He talked at length about philately, and gave a brief history on many stamps, including the most valuable stamps in the world. He said, "People have the misconception that everything becomes valuable with age. But this is not the case. There are many modern or later-day items which are more prized than ancient ones, because it is the rarity and the history of that item that makes it so special."
On the idea of investment, Mr Jayakar said, "Well, for an investor, the return brings happiness, but for a passionate collector, who builds up his collection brick by brick, happiness is the return."