INVESTING IN FOSSILS & ARTIFACTS
- copyright Paleo Direct, Inc.
In the field of rare collectibles, fossils and artifacts certainly qualify with an ever-increasing demand and international appeal that transcends all countries, languages and cultures. This cannot be said for many other collectibles such as American pop culture items with respect to a Japanese or German collector. With fossil collecting finally coming into the mainstream market, evidenced by the surge in major international natural history auctions, it's likely to rank amongst the most promising investments in collectibles with regards to the rarest and finest examples. Not only are deposits becoming rapidly exhausted, other factors have come into play helping make the acquisition of fresh discoveries from the ground as extinct as the fossils themselves. This will only accelerate the rising value of the best specimens, not the common, commercial qualities or types. Technological changes in machinery used in dredging and quarry operations now destroy fossils that were once found by more primitive manual labor. Many states and entire countries are passing legislation each year banning the collecting and export of formerly important market sources. And finally, sites are being permanently destroyed by the ever-increasing expansion of people. The building of new highways and other infrastructure, along with new commercial and residential development continues to destroy and cover former prime collecting sites and areas.
What this translates to is is that as more and more people each year gain an appreciation of owning rare natural history specimens, the source for these specimens is rapidly becoming depleted at an exponential rate. The demand continues to outpace the source at an alarming rate.
From vintage automobiles to antique weathervanes, the rare collectible market offers a haven for investing if done wisely and if placed in only the finest and rarest specimens but no venue of this field has more promise than that of collecting rare fossils. In comparison to all other rare collectible markets, it is one of the MOST UNDERVALUED markets. For example, while 1960's-era American muscle-cars routinely fetch prices in the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, these prices are for cars that were produced by the thousands off the assembly line and only several decades ago! This irrational run-up of collectible prices can be seen in many different fields except rare fossils. Only recently put on the map with the advent of the Jurassic Park movies, the appreciation in price and interest of RARE fossils has only just begun. It's a shame in one respect, since by the time many collectors will catch on to what is happening, the best opportunities to acquire new material will be gone and likely, a very finite population of truly fine grade and authentic fossils will simply change hands from one collection to the other at insane prices. The rapid emergence of the fossil / artifact market in the last decade is also a warning sign that supplies are becoming more and more strained.
Despite what some scientists or 'anti-private ownership' individuals may tell you to discourage the fossil trade, the highest quality and rarest fossils DO APPRECIATE and their value goes up each and every year. This is simple logic. They are not making fossils any more. Minerals, gems, natural precious metal specimens and meteorites are still forming in the Earth or dropping from the sky as you read this yet, we see outrageous prices for this material rising every year. Unlike these collectibles where the supply keeps growing, there are no more fossils! There is a very finite number on the planet. Some more rare than others but once a deposit "plays out" and is fully collected, or in some cases, is closed to the public for legal collecting, the amount of available fossil specimens to acquire suddenly ceases to grow. This transpires while collector demand for only the finest quality specimens drives onward, forcing values and prices higher as time goes on. In some instances, there certain kinds of fossils that outnumber collectors wanting them and you will always have an overabundance of the common quality, but generally speaking, most fossils are rare when it comes to the top grades which is why we advise "BUY THE BEST" or at least, the best you can afford.
Stick with the best quality you can afford and you cannot go wrong. There is a universal demand for high quality fossils and collectors exist all over the world for the best specimens. The increasing public awareness and appreciation of our prehistoric past means that the collector market continues to INCREASE while the supplies of quality fossils continue to DECREASE.
To recap, not ALL fossils are good investments - only the truly highest quality and rarest specimens of genres of broad public interest. This rules out many types and certainly ALL of the commercial quality fossils. Remember, if you ever go to resell a fossil or your entire collection, it will only be desirable to a buyer if it is better material than what everyone else is currently selling! The fastest and most promising appreciation in value will be for the unadulterated, authentic fossil specimens of the absolute finest quality and rarest types ONLY. Invest in the BEST from a highly competent and extremely knowledgeable professional dealer who is well versed in fossil preparation, restoration and repair. This knowledge is needed to expertly weed out the ever-increasing fakes that plague the fossil market like it does ALL rare collectible markets. Get a guarantee in writing regarding the authenticity of the specimen and make sure the guarantee is forever and unconditional. Nothing's worse than bequeathing your collection to a museum or family member only for them to find out you have the best collection in the world of the worst fossils!!!