Buy Americana: U.S. Stocks versus Collectibles

  • July 29, 2009 21:15

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A Honus Wagner baseball card reportedly sold for $2.8 million in 2007
Inverted Jenny postage stamps, featuring an upside down plane, represent an error in American philately. A block of four such stamps sold in 2005 for $2.7 million,

The Wall Street Journal published a new study by Birinyi Associates on Tuesday comparing U.S. stocks with other assets over the long haul. The results touted selected collectibles as the biggest winners.

Here's how eight asset types ranked in the study:

1. Sports memorabilia, ie., a rare Honus Wagner baseball card has appreciated 9,900% since 1985. (Honus Wagner, known as "The Flying Dutchman" for his great speed and Germanic heritage, played mostly for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1897 to 1917.)

2. Popular postage, ie., the "Inverted Jenny" U.S. postage stamp is up 500% in the last several years.

Since 1970...

3. Emerging market shares are up 16%

4. Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has gained 10% on an annual, compounded basis.

5. New York City Taxi Medallions cruised by at 8%

6. Farmland increased by 6.5%

7. U.S. homes made a measly 5.8%

8. Diamonds scraped by at 3%

(Note: Select collectibles, such as sports memorabilia and unusual stamps, made big gains. The WSJ excerpt did not cite every type of collectible on the market. The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card happens to be a pricey one in this category. The initial purchase price was less than a penny and in 2007 one of the 57 known examples reportedly brought $2.8 million at auction.)

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