Archive for August, 2009

This and That: The $10 life and more…

August 6, 2009

  1. While it is never easy to adapt to hard times especially when it is forced down on us, grasshoppers cannot hope that their spendthrift ways can last forever. The Globe & Mail featured a lament to the good old days and a painful adjustment to the new reality.
  2. Money Manager Jeremy Grantham reckons that stocks are now fairly valued. In his latest newsletter, he also says that the world is fast running out of non-renewable resources.
  3. Bank of Montreal is running ads in major newspapers asking former mortgage holders to contact them regarding possible refund of fees. Michael James explains the details and suggests customers contact the bank to see if they are eligible.
  4. Ellen Roseman recently wrote about a small business owner who says he lost tens of thousands of dollars to currency conversion charges because his bank refused to give him a foreign currency account.
  5. Larry MacDonald hopes that readers will find some money saving pointers in his experience in shopping for a new car.
  6. Four Pillars takes a stab at valuing real estate.
  7. Securities lending is a prevalent practice among ETF vendors. In this post, Preet listed the risks involved in securities lending.
  8. It hasn’t been much of a summer here in Ottawa but Squawk Fox has six cheap ways to stay cool without air conditioning.
  9. Million Dollar Journey weighs the pros and cons of taking over a car lease.
  10. Canadian Financial Stuff counts his blessings despite being laid off from Nortel after a long tenure.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Investing in Stamps, Coins, Comic Books, Baseball Cards and more…

August 4, 2009


I find the topic of exotic investments endlessly fascinating — I think the investment merits of some of these are embellished simply to justify a pricey hobby to the significant other. In an earlier post (See Exotic Invesments), I wrote about investment opportunities in diamonds, fine violins, wine, fine art and soccer players. Here are some columns that appeared recently on investing in stamps, coins, comic books, baseball cards, postcards, movie posters and fine whiskeys:

Stamps give stocks a licking

The best index for investment-grade stamps is the GB30 Rarities Index, tracking 30 of the rarest Great Britain stamps, Mr. Anandappa says. This index has averaged 9.9% per annum (compounded) for over 50 years and in that time, it has never fallen in value.

The nebulous nature of numismatics

Do coins outperform stocks? Dealers can trot out statistics showing how an investment in coins has consistently outperformed stock markets, but stamp shop owners can tweak the numbers to show the same thing, as can those who sell art. The fact is, an investment in pocket lint would have outperformed stocks over the past year, so determining the relative advantage of anything over equities is tricky.

Holy Investment Opportunity, Batman

The comic book collector market is still thriving and profitable, and has done especially well since stock markets plunged last fall, says David Tosh, a comic book and comic art collectibles specialist at Dallas, Texas-based Heritage Auction Galleries (

“It’s pretty evident that people are looking for alternate ways to invest their money these days, and rare comics books, especially those that have been certified, encapsulated and graded, have turned out to be very good investments,” Mr. Tosh says.

How to play the trading card field

The most expensive card sold at auction was the American Tobacco Company’s 1910 T206 baseball card depicting Honus Wagner, who may have been the best baseball player ever. According to Wikipedia, a California collector paid US$40.2-million for it in 2007, but the figure seems inflated, since the card had been bought for US$2.35-million just six months earlier.

Postcards best left to collectors

“If you know what you’re doing, investing in postcards is probably not a bad idea,” says Michael Rice, owner of Fenian Antiques, a Saanichton, B.C.-based collectibles dealer who has 15,000 postcards in his collection.

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, I’d be hesitant.”

Movie posters yield blockbuster returns

“I got out of investment banking a couple of years ago and started investing in posters,” he says. “The prices keep going up for the really rare things, and I’d rather put my money in something tangible than in stocks.”

$16,000 a bottle / an acquired taste, a smooth return

Investing in whisky has grown in popularity in recent years. The whisky market “is going well,” said Michel Kappen, who launched the World Whisky Index, or WWI, two years ago in the Netherlands. “We are creating an exchange where people can see the market value of rare whiskies that you can’t buy any more in the shops or that are difficult to find,” he said.

The WWI has nearly 5,000 bottles listed and prices for some have jumped more than 30 per cent year over year. The most expensive bottle currently on the exchange is a 50-year old Springbank whisky distilled in 1919. It was recently listed at $83,000 (Canadian).

Are there any beer collectors (oops, I meant investors) out there?