Collectibles Clean up

The collection craze has spawned an industry chain.

Xu Jia is on the staff of, the nation’s biggest online company for coin and stamp collections. She is impressed by the Chinese people’s passion for collecting. “As people are getting richer, many like to spend on collectibles,” Xu told us. “Though our clients come from different social strata, they are keen for two reasons.”

Some clients see collectibles simply as an investment. They stress the potential for appreciation. Therefore, they prefer older items that are in demand on the market, such as paintings and calligraphy, stamps and coins. Generally speaking, they do not focus on specific collectibles, so are flexible in either buying or selling. If they cannot afford expensive quality goods, they pin their hopes on separating the wheat from the chaff – judging goods by their own artistic criteria, so as to purchase valuable objects at affordable prices. For instance, some people invest in artworks by the students of masters, because they are cheaper. Such an investment perception is prevalent among middle-aged people who have reached a certain level of economic power, or the elderly who wish to pass down collections to later generations.

People flock to Beijing Stamp Company in January to buy horse-themed stamps, as the Year of the Horse approaches. 

Other collectors are motivated by interest and passion. They include young people who have just ventured into this field, and collectors of less popular items. Targeting a specific category, they usually spend a lot of time studying and researching collectibles and possess an in-depth understanding about their niche. They choose carefully before purchasing. Once they decide to buy, they seldom sell.

According to Xu, many customers come regularly to her company to buy collectibles. Each employee deals with business valued at tens of thousand yuan per month. More customers come for consultation. People from all walks of life enjoy getting together to indulge in their common hobby.

Xu’s company regularly organizes training and lectures. Some clients also gather occasionally to communicate and exchange ideas. These activities create cycles of purchase, dissemination, communication, and counter-purchase. In the meantime, an industry chain for collection businesses, including collections appraisal and e-commerce, has been formed.

Bullish Market

On October 21, 2013, the Nanjing Cultural and Art Assets Exchange Square opened its online center for coin and stamp trading. The center first listed six types of coins including colored gold coins themed on the novel Journey to the West, and colored silver coins themed on China’s table-tennis team or with images of dragons and snakes. One special stamp with the painting Ode to the Goddess of the Luo River was listed at the same time.

The initial batch of listed collections has the following features. First, six out of the seven items are commemorative coins. Second, multicolor coins are in the majority. Third, the themes are diverse, including Chinese zodiac animals, classical masterworks, and sports, to name a few. Fourth, prices can meet different demands according to collectors’ budgets. A stamp can cost tens of yuan, silver coins a few hundred yuan. Prices of colored gold coins range from thousands to ten thousands of yuan. Lastly, average prices are lower than market prices.

These coins and stamps have seen reasonable levels of distribution, having been circulating for years. Each boasts a distinctive feature and investment value. The colored gold coin themed on the “Havoc in Heaven” story, from Journey to the West, won the honor of the most popular precious-metal commemorative coin of China in 2002. It was minted in Switzerland, and combines the art forms of classical literature and Beijing Opera. The colorful silver coin themed on China’s table-tennis team contains design flaws. Therefore, the coin is expected to keep increasing in value, but its current price is still affordable to a wide range of collectors. Silver coins with images of the dragon and snake are moderately priced. The zodiac animals theme is especially popular in China. A stamp with the painting Ode to the Goddess of the Luo River was once selected as the best printed stamp and a top special stamp, while its price is attractive to most people.

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