Webster's Dictionary defines investment as using your money in a way that you hope will increase its value.

Have you ever considered buying sports memorabilia as an investement?

Most of us collect what we are passionate about. Like baseball memorabilia. I have a collection of Roberto Clemente items, including a copy of his very first professional contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers. I have been collecting Clemente items since I was a kid. Some of the things I have are probably worth much more than I paid for them. Let me say this, I collect Roberto Clemente memorabilia because he was and is my all time baseball hero. I wouldn't part with any of it. But still, it is worth something.

I have a good friend that collects baseball cards. He knows all the hot players to buy and what most cards are worth. He buys and sells baseball cards as a way to make money. He knows that when he buys a certain card that chances are in a few years that card will be worth more than he paid for it. He also knows that when he buys a card of a rookie that the card may or may not be worth more in years to come, depending on how that player's career works out. He told me that he is going to sell his collection to help pay for his little girl's college education when she is old enough.

I have talked to a few people I know that collect baseball memorabilia as an investment and they all have one thing in common. They all have a collection. Not just a bunch of un-related items. What I mean by that is this. One guy I know collects baseballs. Just baseballs, nothing else. He has autographed baseballs, Major League foul balls, Minor League baseballs, old baseballs, etc. (he also has a few of my Legends Hand Painted Baseballs.)

Another collects only Philadelphia Phillies memorabilia. All kinds of stuff, but all Phillies related.

My car insurance agent collects items from old stadiums that aren't around anymore. I love to go to pay my insurance because as you enter his office he has two seats from Pittsburgh's Forbes Field.

How do you know what memorabilia to buy? Common sense is a good place to start. It's a matter of supply and demand. An item that's rare, or better yet, one of a kind, is going to be worth more in the long run than a mass produced item. If a thousand other people have the same piece of memorabilia that you do, the value won't be as great as it would if you have the only one there is.

And again, memorabilia does not have to be something that a Major Leaguer used or signed. In my Roberto Clemente collection I have a cereal box with Roberto on it. He never touched this box, but his picture on it will make it valuable in years to come.

Once you have a collection underway, take steps to protect your investment. If you ever want to sell your collection, the condition it's in will help determine what it's worth.

If you are collecting baseballs, for example, make sure you store them in a protective case. This will keep your baseballs clean, free of dust and dirt and protect them from the sun which otherwise can fade a baseball.

Insuring your collection against theft and fire only costs a few extra dollars a year. Talk to your insurance agent about it.

If you are planning to start a collection as an investment, plan to keep your collection for a time. Buying today and selling next week won't bring much of a profit.

Baseball memorabilia and collectibles can make awesome gifts, too. My Dad was always a Willie Mays fan, so usually Christmas and Father's Day included some Willie Mays collectible. My Roberto Clemente collection grows because someone always gives me a Christmas gift related to Roberto. A jersey, a photo, a book or something. The next time you're stuck for something to buy that Mike Schmidt fan, you might consider a baseball collectible.

If you're starting a collection, begin by thinking about what you will collect. This shouldn't be a difficult decision. Your all time favorite player or team. Maybe you will only collect baseballs, like my friend. I know another person who only collects bobble heads. Whatever it is that interests you, go have fun doing it.

Remember that there is a difference between collecting as a hobby and collecting as an investment. If you are doing it as an investment, be ready to sell when the time is right.

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