At UK Auctioneers, we get to witness all sorts of lots, from the obscenely valuable, to the downright bizarre. And yet, it’s abundantly clear that there’s a market out there for them all. This has led us to think more about our bidders and more specifically, the collectors amongst them.

For hundreds of years people have created collections. Thanks to the expansion of the internet and advancements of travel and postage, collecting in the 21st century has developed drastically. People have more access to purchasing items that they wouldn’t usually come across and acquisitions originally founded by investment, intrigue or nostalgia have grown to develop collectors rather than one off purchasers.

According to the guys at MD Magazine collections are ultimately sparked by the desire to seek pleasure, however there are many different motivators and psychological reinforces that can impact on the pleasure centre of the human brain, known as the nucleus accumbens. Interestingly, they also highlight that the anticipation of the reward is more stimulating to this area of the brain than actually having it; perhaps further explaining how and why an initial purchase can evolve into a vast collection.

Our Categories

Ultimately there are many different reasons behind why people collect certain items. For a bit of fun, we’ve categorized some of the common traits of collectors into five different ‘Collector Types’ to help you self-identify with which category you best fit into and therefore which lots and upcoming auctions may be best for you.

The Nostalgic Collector

The Nostalgic collector often collects things from either their past, or perhaps the past of a loved one. A specific time period or era seems to filter through their collections and the origin of their purchases are very important to them. They like an item to have somewhat of a past life and a story to tell; whether that story is specific to their past experiences, or to the experiences of previous owners.

Primary focus – Owning memories of the past

Examples of collections

  • Popular toys from previous generations such as beanie babies, model trains or china dolls
  • Antique furniture
  • War Memorabilia

Our relevant sales

Lot of interest – LOT 519 – £100 – £160
Lot of interest – LOT 838 – £200 – £300

The Idolising Collector

The idolising collector is usually a fan of a specific Music, TV, Film or Sport star who feels closer to their idol by purchasing personal effects, or items linked to their success.

The most common and obvious type of lot for an idolising collector is an autograph from their idol, however they can often rationalise that the more personal the object, the more valuable it is to them. This particular thought process is most likely what has led to the following famous hammer prices; Marilyn Monroe’s x-ray & medical file ($70,600), Michael Jackson’s soiled underwear ($1,000,000) and Niall Horan’s half eaten toast ($100,000).

Primary focus – Feeling closer to an idol

Examples of collections

  • Autographs
  • Signed Memorabilia (baseballs, guitars, etc) or memorabilia seen in famous events
  • Clothes worn by a celebrity

Our relevant sales

Lot of interest – LOT 59 – £1,700 – £1,800
Lot of interest – LOT 5227 – £1,000 – £1,500

The Social Collector

At the core of a social collector is the search for positive affirmation from their peers. They often search for a rare piece that they can acquire at a modest price as this combination often results in high admiration from others, which in turn supports that they’ve made a good purchase.

This is the most common overlapping categorisation out of the five we have here, as humans as a social species are constantly seeking validation from others. It is possible to distinguish with other categorisations however, as the social element is not necessarily their primary focus.

Primary focus – Admiration / praise from others

Examples of collections

  • Vintage clothing
  • Jewellery
  • Art

Our relevant sales

Lot of interest – LOT 416 – £150 – £200
Lot of interest – LOT 40 – No Estimate

The Investment Collector

Investment collectors purchase lots to sell on at a later date for profit. To achieve the biggest reward, an investment collector requires specialist knowledge on their collections. Unfortunately, items favoured by investment collectors often have high maintenance, storage or insurance costs and don’t always pay off as intended. People in this category may therefore lose interest when they don’t receive positive reinforcement, resulting in them dipping in and out of purchasing new items.

Two important factors in considering a new purchase for an investment collector is 1) the quantity of available product, as most purchases need to be rare or in limited supply for success, and 2) whether or not the item falls under eligibility for capital gains tax.

Primary focus – Financial gain

Examples of collections

  • Fine Art
  • Fine Wine
  • Cars
  • Gold

Our relevant sales

Lot of interest – LOT 269£2,000 – £3,000
Lot of interest – LOT 181£10,000 – £15,000

The Intellectual Collector / ‘Hobbyists’

These are often (but not always) specific category collectors who fixate on obscure or unique collection subjects. They are constantly searching to find out more about their collection to broaden their knowledge and often become specialists in their specific field of interest.

The specific nature of an intellectual collector, may cause them to seek out (or simply stumble across) likeminded individuals, allowing them to share their knowledge and experiences, which resulting in further positive reinforcement through social means.

Primary focus – Gaining new knowledge in a specific area

Examples of collections

  • Post Boxes (see our previous Chrystals live sale where one box achieved a hammer price of £5600)
  • Ephemera
  • Clocks
  • Weapons

Our relevant sales


Lot of interest – LOT 1023 – £1,200 – £1,500
Lot of interest – LOT 304 – £60 – £100

Summary of upcoming sales

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