What does the phrase “royal memorabilia” conjure up?
Souvenir tea towels? Union Jack trays? Prince Charles masks?
In other words, “tat”.
Yet while some may scoff, high-end collectibles from the current royal family do exist, and auction results from the past couple of decades reveal that it is possible to make some handsome returns from the sector.
- Princess Diana’s autograph is up 17.8% pa since 2000, according to the PFC40 Autograph Index
- Queen Elizabeth II’s Land Rover beat its estimate by 58% in November
- A slice of cake from Kate and William's wedding auctioned for a record £1,917 ($3,085) in May 2012
Royal popularity is soaring
There has never been a better time to invest in the sector.
Seen as something of a laughing stock in the late 1980s and early 1990s thanks to numerous scandals and divorces, the royal family has enjoyed a huge resurgence in the public’s affection in the past decade.
A 2010 poll in that most republican of Commonwealth countries, Australia, revealed that just 44% of inhabitants believed a republic should be created, 8% down on 2008 and the lowest mark since 1994.
And the past two years have only cemented this affection still further, following the global coverage of William and Kate’s wedding in 2011, the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, witnessed by 3.5bn around the world, and the recent announcement of a new heir to the throne.
Indeed the Jubilee helped the royal family’s approval ratings no end, with a July 2012 poll finding that 80% of Britons had a favourable opinion of the current Queen, up from 74% in January.
And what does this mean for the royal collectibles market?
This growing interest in the royals is bringing new buyers to the sector – increasing competitiveness and thereby prices.
The birth of William and Kate’s baby next summer can only increase interest in the royals, providing yet a further boost to the royal collectibles market.
Many astute investors, seeing that the popularity of the present incarnation of the royal family looks set to endure, and seeking some diversity in their portfolios, are realising the potential of this area to continue to rise in value over the long term , and are buying now.
And what if your passion lies many centuries earlier?
Historic artefacts connected with the great names of British monarchy continue to perform superbly, such is the great demand for these rare pieces of history.
- A document autographed by Richard III auctioned in June for £109,250 ($168,900), 628.3% above estimate. It had last changed hands in May 1960 for $850 - a 10.7% pa increase.
- A wanted poster for Charles II made £40,000 ($64,830) in March.
- Oliver Cromwell's official abolition of the British monarchy in 1649 sold for £13,750 ($22,000) in July, beating its £5,000 high estimate by 175%.
These are names that have stood the test of time. If we were going to forget them we would have done it by now.
It’s why artefacts connected with the greatest names of British monarchy make such sound long-term investments. Their strictly limited numbers, allied with considerable demand from collectors, ensures strong prices are continually achieved. And an influx of investors, realising the potential of these tangible assets, is also helping push prices higher.
Paul Fraser is the founder of Paul Fraser Collectibles, a UK-based company that specializes in high-end collectibles. It provides a free daily news service on the collectibles sector, read by collectors in more than 200 countries. To get in touch call +44 (0)117 933 9500 or email email@example.com