Most of us have collections of some sort. Maybe you collect dolls, stamps, coins, rocks, or movies. Some people collect bigger things like cars and antiques. Whatever our collector’s item of choice is, most of us come to a point in our lives when we ask ourselves, “Now what do I do with it?” Maybe you’re thinking of downsizing to a smaller home, or you’re no longer physically able to maintain the collection. Maybe financial circumstances are forcing you to get rid of it. Maybe you’re planning for your death and trying to handle disposal now, rather than letting your heirs deal with it. Maybe you’ve inherited a collection you don’t want. Or, maybe you’ve just lost interest in your collection or you want to free up space for something new. Whatever the reason, you find yourself wondering how best to get rid of the collection. It can be hard to part with something you’ve worked hard to build, but here are some ideas for getting rid of your treasures without tossing them in the landfill.
Sell it: The most obvious solution is to sell your collection, either yourself on the Internet, at a yard sale or flea market, or through some sort of consignment arrangement. You can also try to sell directly to another collector or to someone who deals in your type of collection. You may not get top dollar this way, unless you can find a buyer who shares your passion.
Donate it: Many organizations will take collections if they have a use for them. For example, a hospital children’s ward may take a stuffed animal, game, or book collection. A school or library may take a collection of books or music. A collection of local memorabilia would be appreciated by a Town Hall or Chamber of Commerce. If what you have is useful or needed by others, there is probably an organization that would be happy to have it.
Give it to family: You can always pass your collection on to a family member who would like to have it. Just don’t put any strings on the collection that will make your family member resent you and your collection later. Once you give it away, let it be theirs to do with as they choose.
See if a museum wants it: I had an uncle that collected WWII memorabilia. When he died, the history museum was thrilled to get his collection and I got a great tax deduction. If the stuff you collect is rare, historically, commercially, or artistically significant, or documents a particular time period, there is probably a museum that would happy to accept it.
Auction it: If your collection is valuable, you may be able to drum up interest in an auction at a house like Sotheby’s or Christie’s. These houses tend to deal only in high value or very rare items. However, there are many local auction houses that will auction almost anything. An auction may bring in more money than a private sale, particularly if others in your area share your passion. Just remember that the auction house will keep a portion of any proceeds so take that into account when deciding the best way to sell.
Trade it: If you’re looking to start a new collection, you may be able to work out a trade with someone else. If you can find someone who wants your old albums in exchange for their teddy bears, for example, you can try to work out a trade or negotiate a price taking your trade into account. You’re most likely to find people open to this sort of arrangement at collector’s shows or memorabilia exhibitions.
Whatever route you take, I advise keeping at least one or two items from your collection unless you are absolutely sure that you no longer want them. Keeping a couple of great pieces to remind yourself of the collection you loved can go a long way toward easing any regret or sorrow you might feel at getting rid of your collection. Also remember that, as long as you didn’t just dump your stuff in the landfill, others are now enjoying the things you lovingly collected.