How to Fail Miserably at Vintage Concert Poster Collecting

Many collectors believe vintage concert posters represent the most exciting collectible opportunity in the marketplace today. Here are four ways to guarantee you'll fail in this collecting industry.

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On February 14, 2018, I traveled to Los Angeles, California, to hear the advice of world-famous billionaire investor and businessman, Charlie Munger.

Munger, 94, is Warren Buffett's business partner and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. He is widely credited for vastly contributing to Buffett's success and his decades of wisdom have been published in a highly regarded book, "Poor Charlie's Almanack." I highly recommend all readers of this blog buy it. 

One of Munger's principal pieces of advice that he repeats, again and again, is "to invert, always invert." By that, Munger believes that if you want something in life, the best way to get it is to list what you DON'T want and avoid that list.

For example, if you want to find a great spouse or life partner, what are the five character traits you must avoid? If you want a great job, what are the five things you don't want in a boss, work environment and prospects for advancement?

In this spirit, I'm giving you four common and easy to make mistakes, that if practiced rigorously, will guarantee failure and disappointment in your vintage concert poster collecting activities.

1) Don't research.

There is an old saying in collectibles, "buy the book before you buy the collectible." Ignore this saying. We have provided a standard list of reference books that EVERY concert poster collector should have. Ignore this list. Also, this marketplace is rapidly growing and changing month by month, as documented in this blog. Turn a blind eye to new opportunities, stay inflexible in your thinking, and keep your mind firmly rooted in the past.

2) Don't plan.

Not planning is very common and very easy to pull off. Vintage concert posters are cool. REALLY cool! So go ahead and start collecting without any goal or plan. You are guaranteed to quickly amass a very cool pile of "stuff". You won't have a collection that "hangs together," you won't be able to explain the significance of your collection to your friends, family, and associates, and you won't experience any pride of ownership.

With no pride of ownership, and no real goals attained or pursued, you will quickly lose interest and be on to "the next thing" before you know it. For beginning collectors, we provide a list of possible collecting suggestions that could provide a road map of how and where to stop. Ignore this advice.

3) If a deal looks too good to be true, buy it!

Here's an oldie but a goodie. A collector gains a little bit of knowledge, just enough to hurt themselves. Suddenly an opportunity appears that looks too good to pass up. Surely, the little bit of beginning knowledge you have attained puts you head and shoulders over everybody else that has been collecting for years, right?

Maybe you are the first person to discover that there really is such a thing as a "free lunch." Maybe you should disregard the fact that the most successful collectors ALWAYS "pay up" for the rarest and finest quality. Maybe you will be the very first collector that rises to the top by picking off supposed bargains that only YOU were lucky enough to locate. Maybe!

4) Don't look for a dealer you can trust. 

You are masterfully doing steps 1, 2, and 3 listed above. YOU GOT THIS! You don't need help figuring out what opportunities to pursue. You don't need help figuring out what price to pay. You don't need guarantees in writing. You don't need consistent grading standards that have been clearly outlined. You don't need unbiased third-party opinions about authenticity or grade. You don't need disclosures about the hidden, professional restorations that are near impossible for anyone but an expert to detect. You don't need professional advice and guidance, because you have everything already figured out!

I promise you, if you follow the four tips listed above you'll be sure to have a terrible time in an otherwise exciting collectibles market.

If you enjoyed this post, you might wish to read an article about the advice we recently received from Warren Buffett himself. You can read that here.