All collectors have two basic things in common irrespective of their speciality, namely an interest in their subject and a love of collecting. The urge to collect generally precedes the selection of the items to be acquired, so what are the basic rules for starting a collection.

Most collections are started by accident rather than deliberately. Usually a latent collector inherits one or two items and decides to build on this nucleus. Many a collection started from humble beginnings from the toys and presents we were given as children. This is particularly true in the fields of coins, stamps, comic books, doll and train collecting. The collection exists almost before the collector knows, or acknowledges it.

Irrespective of how a collection starts, the most important thing is to combine the urge to collect with your personal taste. Think about the practical aspects before committing yourself to a subject, namely the space, time and money available. If you live in a small flat or house, there is little point, even if you are wealthy, in collecting large Tudor oak furniture. Similarly if you have limited finances, rare and expensive jade ornaments are not for you.

So where does one start?

What space do you have available for your collection?

How much time can you devote to your collection?

How much money do you want to spend on your collection?

If you are starting from nothing you will want very quickly to form a nucleus of four or five items that can legitimately be described as a collection. After that you will want to add to it regularly, and how regularly will depend on how much the pieces cost in relation to your resources. If the items in your chosen subject cost around £50 each then you will need an initial input of around £250 and a minimum of around £100 per year to keep the collection growing and developing.

It sounds basic, but all too often what should be a pleasure turns into a nightmare because a collector has chosen an area that is too expensive. Buy less frequently in order to devote your budget to purchasing the best quality you can. If this simply just does not suit your personality, then try to choose a subject in which the best items are inexpensive enough to allow you to buy relatively frequently within your resources.

Whether you are a novice or a specialist, the following guidelines can help you when hunting for your antique or collectable.
  1. Do not buy for investment
  2. Do not follow a trend or a fashion but follow your instinct
  3. Have a theme do not buy on impulse
  4. Research the subject, time spent is never wastedv
  5. Buy well made items
  6. Buy items that are in good condition
  7. Spend the maximum you can afford on good quality items
  8. Buy only what you really like
If you cannot remember all these rules, or if you are unsure, always apply rule 8 and only buy what you really like.