11/28/2012 03:08 pm ET Updated Jan 26, 2013

10 Suggestions for Collectors

AFP/Getty Images

From the beginnings of civilization we have all been hunters and gathers, and in today's world, we simply "hunt" and "gather" many different items. We all want to collect something -- or already do. Look around your house, if you have two or more of something that is similar, changes are you are a collector.

For the last 25 years, I have been traveling this county to see peoples "obsessions." Nothing beats the adrenaline rush of walking into a collection and seeing what someone has amassed. But no matter how big or small the collection, I am always asked my opinion on collecting.

The first rule of thumb is to find something to collect that makes you happy. Once you start, you will enter a new universe, filled with history, literature, clubs, collecting shows, experts and obsessions. You will make new friends, learn about things you never knew existed and find yourself persistently chasing items.

Are there guidelines? I think so. Below are my 10 top suggestions to all collectors:

1. Condition is key. Items are always worth more and easier to sell if the condition is good.

2. If an item comes with original packing, keep it, even if you display it. Collectibles are always worth more with their boxes.

3. Display your collection. What is the point of collecting if you cannot enjoy it?

4. Beware of sunlight, humidity, moisture and heat. Each category of collecting reacts differently to certain elements. It is important to know what may affect the condition of your pieces.

5. Keep an inventory. It is important to know what you have, where it is stored and what you paid for it.

6. If the collection warrants it, get insurance. If you have spent your hard-earned money collecting, then you should have insurance in case of a disaster.

7. Learn the fair market value of your collectibles. You can do this by going online and seeing what comparable items are selling for. Not what they are asking for. This will help you understand the value.

8. Knowledge is power. Talk to other collectors, join clubs, go to shows, read and subscribe to auctions. You will be amazed by how collectors like to share their information.

9. Try to stay away from buying "limited editions," unless the run is under $300. I have found that the market is usually at half the value for large runs of limited editions.

10. Have fun! Collecting is a hobby that should put a smile on your face!