Invest in Tomorrow's Nostalgia Today!
December 2002

by James Colburn

I once had a Marvel comic book that featured the first appearance of Spiderman. I'd purchased it as a youngster and even then knew that it was special and would, one day, be valuable so I kept it in a plastic bag and made sure that it wouldn't get bent or folded. Many years later I found out that that issue it that condition was worth over $10,000.

It's a damn shame that my mother threw it away with all my other comics while cleaning out my bedroom closet. Then again, if it wasn't for all cleaning mothers doing similar things all those old comics would only be worth 25 cents a piece by now.

It's time, once again, to think about the future. Your future and how you're going to pay for it. One way would be to carefully put money into an IRA or a 401K over years and years and watch the market turn your small contributions into a large nest egg, only to see that same nest egg decrease in value by 90 percent during the next market crash... Which, as luck would have it, will happen just before you want to retire. So the trick looks to be "go with what you know" and start buying photographic things now that will be worth more later on.

Digital photography is the rage and it can only get more and more popular as time goes on so I suggest investing in "nostalgia futures" now. In 25 years or so there's going to be a huge interest in analog photography. It'll be "retro" and therefore cool. Teens and college kids will get interested and 30-40 year olds will be able to spend some serious bucks satisfying their curiosity about all that "old stuff."

Your first thought might be to snap up all the Leicas that you can but since Leicas are overpriced as it is that'd cost lots of money now, money that you might not have. So think low to mid price. A few cases of disposable cameras might be a good idea but they're bulky and would take up all the room in your basement refrigerator. So the trick is going to be to find a decent, small camera that will not take up too much space.

How about a Canon Sure-Shot? An Olympus Stylus? A Nikon Lite-Touch? All good cameras capable of producing some excellent quality images and all (depending on model) available for around $100. So start buying. Buy them in bulk if you can. Go in with a few good friends in a camera buying syndicate. Wrap them in plastic, keep them in a nice dry place and wait. Pick up a few stainless steel tanks and some 35mm reels while you're at it and 20 or 30 copies of one of those books that explain how you can make your own photographic developers and fixers. If you have lots of space getting a hold of half a dozen small, cheap enlargers might be a good idea. And buying a case or three of Tri-X and any-battery-that-the-camera-needs-that-isn't a "AA" would be smart .

Think about how much you're going to be able to charge for this stuff in 2033! All it'll take will be two weeks on Ebay or a few classified ads and you'll be set for the rest of your life. You'll be able to get $1000 or so for each camera and you'll be able to swap one of those enlargers for a vacation home in Florida when the time comes.

© James Colburn
Contributing Writer

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