A collectable or collectible is typically a manufactured item designed for people to collect. In this respect, they are distinguishable from other subjects of collections, which may also include natural objects (e.g., butterflies) and objects manufactured for purposes other than collecting (e.g., stamps). Some objects designed for other purposes, such as toys, become so popular among collectors that they are later marketed specifically to that audience. The high price for certain older Star Wars action figures is a good example of this phenomenon since the figures were originally intended to be purchased as toys rather than collectibles. It is a noun or adjective depending how it is used in a sentence.
A collector's item, in contrast is made without the intention of special interest but due to rarity or uniqueness, production fault, human error, or other events, becomes sought after due to its rarity in these circumstances. Such circumstances may result in an item from a collectible series becoming valuable and sold for substantial amounts of money. In the 1960s, it became fashionable for some comic book companies, such as Marvel Comics or DC Comics to boost sales of their comic books by printing "Collectors' Item" on the covers. In fact, Marvel Comics even issued a 1960s comic book series which was titled Marvel Collectors' Item Classics.
Although "collectable" is the spelling listed first for the adjective by the Oxford English Dictionary and is standard spelling in British English, the dictionary observes that the "-ible" form is also valid, and has come to be common spelling in the United States.
The earliest collectables were included as incentives with other products, such as cigarette cards in packs of cigarettes. Popular items developed a secondary market and sometimes became the subject of "collectable crazes". Eventually many collectable items came to be sold separately, instead of being used as marketing tools to increase the appeal of other products.
To encourage collecting, manufacturers often create an entire series of a given collectable, with each item differentiated in some fashion. Examples include sports cards depicting individual players, or different designs of Beanie Babies. Enthusiasts will often try to assemble a complete set of the available variations.
Early versions of a product, manufactured in smaller quantities before its popularity as a collectable developed, sometimes command exorbitant premiums on the secondary market. Dolls and other toys made during an adult collector's childhood can command such premiums. Unless extremely rare or made as a one-of-a-kind OOAK, in a mature market, collectables rarely prove to be a spectacular investment.
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