So… The Royal Baby was born yesterday, just in case you hadn’t heard…
Oh. You’ve heard that already?
Right now, and likely for the next few weeks, the media in the western world will be entrirely focused on that child. Great Britain has been on quite a run lately, starting with the Royal Wedding a couple years ago, the London Olympics last summer, the last Bond movie was actually pretty darn good, Andy Murray taking Wimbledon and now this.
We are collectors here at Heritage and, knowing how these things work, I immediately wondered what the Heritage archives would reveal in terms of “Royal Baby” collectibles – not Royal family, mind you, which goes a different direction. Just “Royal Baby.” You can see for yourself, if you’re of a mind to click, that’s the results are minimal (only four of the six that come up are actually associated with the British royal family), and the top result is a 1982 South African gold Royal Baby medallion. Two of these were sold in 2003 for $3768.55 apiece. Then you have a Prince Edward signed photo and a very cool original photo of Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth. Nothing from Prince Charles’ birth and nothing from Prince Harry’s birth, and nothing from any previous Royal births.
Maybe this just says that Heritage does not see precious Royal Baby collectibles from ages past as other places might, or maybe it means that “precious Royal Baby collectibles” don’t really exist.
All over the world today people will rush out to get a copy of The Guardian or The Times of London, or The Telegraph, or New York Times or their local rag, with a headline about the birth. The most popular of which will sell for vastly inflated amounts on eBay in the next few days. The furor will die down in due time and the prices on these papers will be roughly equal to their newstand price. A copy of one of the millions of newspapers proclaiming the news is not a collectible. It is just one of a million.
Now, get me a newspaper with the royal baby’s footprint on it, and an autogrpah from Prince William and Kate Middleton… Well… Then you may just have something collectible. As the PR guy here, I’d also sure like to hear the story of how you got it…
The same principal is going to apply to any of what I am sure will be numerous special commemoratives issued to celebrate the young princeling’s birth. There will be silver spoons, plates, posters, special embossed photos with a royal stamp, coins, comic books, notebooks, onesies, socks and anything else you could possibly market.
They will be bought by the millions and stashed away by people that love the items and love the prince, and we all at Heritage heartily encourage people to by things they love. In this case, though, it’s got to be for love, not for the thought that they have just made an investment in an historical event that will ensure their future – or at least net them a nice vacation in their Golden Years.
This will not be the case. The only things that will be worth anything would be commemorative coins made of precious metal – the melt value of that gold or silver will always count for something.
“I wouldn’t put my retirement money into this type of thing as an investment quality collectible,” said Marsha Dixey, an expert Generalist here at Heritage. “Collectibles for Princess Diana, who was the most loved Royal in the last two centuries, didn’t really find a level of value until her death. Even that has peeked and died (no pun intended). Collecting Royal Baby memorabilia with an eye on future profit would be speculative at best.”
Note the South African medallion that tops the Heritage list. Here is the catalog description from 10 years ago: ”This massive gold medal was struck by the South African Historical Mint in 1982 to commemorate the birth of Prince William Arthur Philip Louis, son to the Prince and Princess of Wales. The medallion measures 75 mm in diameter and contains one troy pound of fine gold. Only 10 pieces were struck. Royal arms of England/Sleeping baby. Gem Proof and truly spectacular.”
One troy pound of gold (12 ounces). Only 10 struck. It dates to a country who’s government has changed immensely since its issue. Suffice it to say that it would likely bring a good bit more than the $3,768.55 it brought a decade ago.
Rarity is what makes the collectible. Not quantity. Even if you’re nuts about the kid, think twice before you invest more than a trifle in the once-and-future-king.