A ginger Barbie doll; a Christmas card featuring Santa in a purple suit and an antique feather-stuffed golf ball. What do these three curios have in common? They are all rare household items from yesteryear which today can command a small fortune on the global collectibles market.
The popularity of "alternative investments" such as antiques, fine art, wine, coins and stamps is a well known trend, and one that has increased in today's economically volatile times. With some collections ? for example, gold Krugerands ? it is easy to see how it appeals to nervous investors in troubled times.
As a general rule, investors are much more interested in putting their money in fixed assets such as precious metals or property. What?s more, this investment philosophy of trusting tangible, fixed assets to perform better than securities or cash is being extended to all kinds of collectible objects.
Toby Walne, the well-known personal finance journalist, has been studying the trend for years. A self-confessed hoarder, he has just written a book on the investment credibility of all kinds of modern day collectibles, from Meccano to children's comics and sporting paraphernalia. Entitled 101 Extraordinary Investments: Curious, unusual and bizarre ways to make money, the title says it all.
"There are no barriers to what makes an alternative investment ? only your imagination," says Mr Walne. "You can actually have quite a lot of fun making money by collecting everyday objects. It might not make you rich overnight, but if you choose well, items should hold their value, and could increase substantially. Unlike conventional stock market investing, even if the value collapses you're still going to be left with something that gives you pleasure."
Many of the items featured in his fascinating book were worth next to nothing 20 years ago, but now fetch several hundred, or even several thousand pounds. For investors who don't want to buy in at the peak of such trends, what are the unloved objects of today that could potentially soar in value in the future?
"To make the most of alternative investments, you shouldn't just do it to make money. You have got to have an interest to drive you on, and you can have great fun meeting like-minded saddos," he jokes.