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Put down the wine and cognac, now is the time for whisky and beers

Wine and cognac have long been the preserves of wealthy collectors, who fill their ample cellars with the best bottles, ready to break out when the time is right – or to save as an investment.

An investment hangover awaits those who bought wine too eagerly - image: Sotheby's

An investment hangover awaits those who bought wine too eagerly – image: Sotheby’s

These collectible drinks hold a special place in the world of collectibles investment. They hold their own kind of insurance against any potential losses, with the owner able to pop open a bottle and drown his sorrows should profit go down the pan.

Not much of a consolation, but far more enjoyable than losing thousands on stocks and shares.

But the market for Bordeaux – once the big-hitter of wine auctions everywhere – has been ailing since 2011, when a bubble pushed prices unsustainably high and they were sharply corrected soon after.

There are only so many sorrows you can drown before you have to throw in the towel, and with just 1.5% growth in the second quarter of 2013, many wine collections are being sold off.

But there is hope for the collectible beverages market: whisky and beer.

Those oh-so-manly and uncouth drinks have been taking off lately, with collectors forking out top sums to own the very finest the world has to offer.


A cellar full of whisky proves more potent than wine when it comes to investing – image: Spink

Whisky in particular has proved its potential as an investment, and those aficionados that would have drank a bottle down without a second though now think twice before doing so.

While Bordeaux languishes, the whisky world has seen two world records in the past year, both for a cask and a single bottle, with Scotch the decided favourite. Meanwhile, the top 100 bottles have seen an 18.75% increase in value in the past year, making them a better investment that the S&P500.

This is a young market, and its being spurred by foreign collectors, with figures showing that Russia is actually the biggest importer of Scotch whisky. This rise is supported by the newly-wealthy middle classes in growing economies emulating the traditions of the rich around the world.

Now, the beer market isn’t as well established as whisky, but there is an increasing global interest in “artisan” ales and the like and some of those bottle are fast becoming collectible.

See some of the top-selling collectible beers in the world.

One of the world most valuable beers comes inside a taxidermied squirrel: we're not sure about this one - image:  Brewdog

One of the world most valuable beers comes inside a taxidermied squirrel: we’re not sure about this one – image: Brewdog

These aren’t for investment, as beer will spoil in little over a year, making the contents almost worthless. Rather, beer collectors will cherish a few precious bottles, while gathering breweriana.

You may not have come across the word breweriana, but collecting artefacts from brewers – such as beer taps, kegs and advertising – is a long established market that regularly sees sales held across the world.

What’s more, breweriana leaves the collector free to enjoy their drink, while appreciating the history of their favourite pastime.

A $29,000 beer can that sold at auction last year - image: Morphy Auctions

A $29,000 beer can that sold at auction last year – image: Morphy Auctions

Check out this guy’s collection of beer cans and breweriana – it’ll soon get you drunk on collecting.

by Joe


The world’s most valuable signature

Day in day out we sell some of the world’s rarest autographs.

From James Dean to Henry VIII, if you can imagine it we’ve either got it or can get it.

However, there’s one I can guarantee that we’ll never have in stock.

I’ll give you a clue.

It belongs to the greatest writer in history.

The Chandos portrait of Shakespeare has led some to speculate that the bard may have been Jewish

The Chandos portrait of Shakespeare has led some to speculate that the bard may have been Jewish

There are only six known copies of William Shakespeare’s autograph in existence – all of which feature on legal documents and are housed under lock and key in some of the world’s most prestigious institutions.

If one was to ever sell, it’s estimated that it would go for around $5m.

That figure would increase significantly if it was attached to a manuscript copy of one of his plays, not a single copy of which has ever surfaced.

Shakespeare's will - one of the few manuscripts to feature his signature

Shakespeare’s will – one of the few manuscripts to feature his signature

The extraordinary value placed on his signature is far above that for any other person, a phenomenon that can be explained both by his extraordinary contribution to literature and the air of mystery that surrounds him.

Despite his fame and status, we still known very little about Shakespeare.

The fact that very few records or relics are known to have survived means that there is no market for memorabilia pertaining to him, despite enormous demand.

As a result copies of his folios, printed after his death, regularly break six figures – with one selling for $6.1m in 2001.

A piece of bloodstained fabric

A piece of bloodstained fabric recently sold for $16,000 at a US auction.

I know what you’re thinking. What could possibly compel someone to pay that amount of money for something that unpleasant?

Well what if I told you that that piece of fabric was torn from the very sofa that Adolf Hitler was sitting on when he shot himself.

Suddenly it becomes much more interesting, doesn’t it?


The fragment of sofa from Hitler’s bunker in Berlin

The grisly memento was taken by a US officer who was among the first to enter the bunker below the Reich Chancellery in Berlin before it was filled in by the Russians. Apparently, it is now the site of a Chinese restaurant.

Most of us are aware of how the dictator spent his final days below ground as the city’s children were conscripted to hold off the inevitable advance of the Red Army, of the frenzied attempts to delay the inevitable up until the final moment.

The events were memorably dramatised in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s extraordinary film Downfall, which was based on the memoirs of Traudl Junge – Hitler’s secretary in the closing months of the war.

It is items like this, despite their obvious unpalatability, that take the past out of the history books and place it squarely within your hands.

From the shirt Franz Ferdinand was wearing when he was assassinated in 1914, held in the collection of the Austrian Military Museum, to a cloth dipped in the blood of the executed Louis XVI, there is an immediacy and revulsion that ensures these relics retain their power long after the event.

That Hitler died in the bunker is beyond doubt. His dental remains were identified, but as the auction house put it: “no blood relics of Hitler’s have ever been offered publicly – a DNA test would conclusively put to rest rumors of body doubles, flight to Argentina, and other theories of an escape from Berlin”.

Inevitably, there is a deeper moral issue that comes into play with the sale of memorabilia pertaining to the Nazis and Hitler in particular.

It is, however, the case that the majority of buyers of Nazi memorabilia are the Jewish community. Memories are short, but items that bring to life the darkest moment of European history offer a warning to future generations as the spectre of the second world war diminishes.


PS4? Xbox One? I’ll take the NES any day.

It’s official. The Sony PS4 is winning the much-publicised sales war against Microsoft’s Xbox One, at least in the UK.PS4, Playstation, Sony, console, video games

The games console has sold over 2.1m copies since November 29, with Microsoft keeping rather quiet, stating only that there have been “over 3 billion zombies killed in ‘Dead Rising 3’”.

But here at Paul Fraser Collectibles, we tend to shy away from technological advancements, preferring to bury our heads in the fascinating items from the past. As the world clamours to own one of these consoles, we’re only now looking at the earliest computers.

It’s not that we’re completely behind the times, but rather that collectibles are our business, and early computers and technology are becoming just that – collectible.

Now we all know that Apple-1s and the very first computers to be released can fetch a pretty penny, but we’re talking video games here. Take a look at some of the button-bashing classics that will cost you more than just a few gold coins:

Tengen Tetris

Tengen, Tetris, Nintendo, Game, Video, Computer

One of the best known computer games in the world, Tetris is nothing short of iconic for the generation that grew up playing it. Even if you’ve never had a go, you can probably hum the hypnotic theme song or describe the falling blocks.

But did you know that, before being released by Nintendo, the game was actually developed by Russian company Tengen and was billed as “The Soviet Mind Game”?

However, once released, Nintendo argued that it had the distribution rights to the game, and ordered all of the existing copies to be destroyed. Today, just three copies are known to exist, with one example appearing on eBay valued at $40,000.

Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy, video game, rare, playstation, english, version, copy,

One of the first games to be released exclusively for the PS4 is Final Fantasy XV, much to the delight of the series’ dedicated fanbase, yet an English copy of the second game in the long running series will still cost you far more.

The game was originally released in Japan on Nintendo NES in 1988, and plans were in motion for an English version of the game to be released in 1991. However, the game was scrapped due to Nintendo deciding to put its efforts into the English version of Final Fantasy IV, which had already been released on SNES by the time they got round to it.

Since then, only one pre-production sample cartridge has surfaced, valued at $50,000.

Stadium Events

Stadium Events, Bandai, Nintendo, Family Fun, Fitness, video game, rare, for sale, memorabilia

Stadium Events was released in 1988 for use with the Family Fun Fitness Mat, an early precursor to the dance mats of the late 90s. A run of the mill athletics game, it hardly sounds like the kind that collectors would pay thousands for today.

However, due to Nintendo buying the rights to the Family Fun Fitness Mat and rebranding it the PowerPad, before destroying all copies of any game that could be used with it, Stadium Events is incredibly rare.

Apparently, only 2,000 copies were produced (remember, video games weren’t quite as popular back then) and only around 200 were sold.

In 2010, a sealed copy of the game reportedly sold for $41,300 – the record for any video game sold at auction. Another example is said to have gone for as much as $800,200, though I – and many other sources –  find that hard to believe.

English: An NES console with controller attached.

I’ll remain at home with my NES until this all blows over

Looking at those collectibles, it’s obvious that Nintendo is the collector’s choice, yet the gaming giant seems to have dropped out of the current sales race: the PS4 and Xbox One have both outsold the Wii U’s lifetime total in the UK in just a few weeks (the Wii U was released more than a year ago).

by Joe

World Cup 2014: England football memorabilia revived

Last night (October 15), England secured their place in the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.

Rooney playing for England in 2006

Rooney playing for England in 2006

The team needed three points following Ukraine’s 8-0 trouncing of San Marino, and Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard prevailed to lead the side to a 2-0 victory over Poland.

As the side prepare for the famed beaches of Ipanema and Copacobana, fans are once again reminded of England’s greatest hour – the 1966 World Cup.

As the 2014 cup draws ever closer, values for England football memorabilia from the legendary tournament will soar. Almost serving as a talisman, a lucky charm for Rio, items relating to that fabled 1966 final are sure to attract top prices.

A smart buyer would buy now and reap the rewards in 2014, as collectors search for scarce items that remind them of what the team once was…and could be again.

Paul Fraser Collectibles is offering you the chance to do just that, with a selection of items autographed by the 1966 World Cup-winning team.

England, 1966, World Cup, signed, football, memorabilia

A great piece of nostalgia, and a potentially worthy investment


Diane Arbus’ photography is more in demand than ever…

A rare artist’s print of Diane Arbus’ sensational, 1966 photograph Identical Twins Cathleen and Colleen sold for $602,500 in New York on Tuesday (April 2).


Acquired directly from Arbus, who tended to concentrate her creative energies on the more freakish, deviant and surreal aspects of American life, the silver gelatine print brought a 173.9% increase on its $220,000 estimate, justifiably leading Phillips’ latest photography auction.

The price represents a new auction record for Arbus’ work.

In 1967 Arbus acknowledged: “In some societies twins are taboo, an aberration.”

“I thought how ordinary is a charming pair of twins.”

Arbus presents her twins in a manner which is at once endearing and unsettling. While the pair’s likeness is emphasized by their identical hairstyles and party dresses, a number of discrete and crucial differences (gaze, smile, stance) reveal two very distinct personalities.

Arbus biographer Patricia Bosworth identified the photographer’s ability to depict the “freakishness in normalcy and the normalcy in freakishness”. Identical Twins Cathleen and Colleen epitomises such bifocal proclivities; remaining among her most recognised and celebrated snapshots.

An online auction of 41 lesser known Diane Arbus prints is currently underway at Christie’s (March 29 – April 12), while here at Paul Fraser Collectibles, we too have a number of art and photography treasures in stock.

Ian Fleming signed photograph – Adrian’s favourite PFC Auctions lot!

The Einstein letters are fabulous, I really like the Neil Armstrong autograph with the photographic provenance (not sure I’ve ever seen similar before), but my favourite lot would have to be the Ian Fleming signed photo.Ian Fleming signed photograph, Autograph, Photo, Signature, Bond, James Bond, memorabilia, auction, value
It was only when we researched the item that we realised just how rare it is. As few as five of these are known to exist – that makes it a world rarity in my eyes, especially with all the publicity surrounding James Bond this year. Fleming also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, so what’s not to love!
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