Hobbies for the mature

Harry Pope reflects on how a hobby can be both profitable and fun

As I have got older, I have wondered what new hobby to undertake that wasn’t too strenuous, not too time consuming, not too expensive. When you achieve an age over sixty, your mind still says it wants to be active, but your body slows down, telling you to pace yourself, and be sensible.

As we live by the seaside, taking pleasure in walking along the seafront, stopping for morning coffee with a little drop of medicinal brandy, any hobby would have to fit into our lifestyle. The answer, become an amateur dealer in collectables.

My late father used to collect first editions of comics, from the early 1950s through to the late 1970s, protecting them in clear plastic envelopes, and had first editions of Eagle, Bunty, Girl, Hotspur, along with Twinkle, early TV Times, etc., because he also collected interesting newspapers. About four years ago I had a change of circumstances, and decided to sell them all, but as I already had an e-bay account realised that there was a world market out there just waiting for my collectables.

I had about sixty comics in total, so sold them over a period of three months, filtering in slowly. If you have a lot of one item, don’t flood the market, which is only common sense. They came to a considerable sum, which gave me the taste for more dealing, so the next step was my local auction house. I soon realised that I would have to spread my interest wider, as comic and paper ephemera collecting/dealing is a limited area. Over the last three years I have only purchased at most half a dozen lots of comics, however, there are lots of other interesting items to collect and sell. The antique shows assist of course, giving some price guides, but there’s nothing like attending your first auction. It’s nonsense about not scratching your nose. If you want to bid, you have to be looking at the auctioneer, and sometimes that is not easy. Before now I have shouted ‘Paul’ (no idea if that’s his name, but it always works) just to get his attention. But do your homework first. Always go and look on the viewing day, o
r before the sale starts, because you might want a particular item, see that it is in good condition, but when the hammer has gone down, it might be missing from the box because someone light-fingered has taken a shine to it, or someone else might have damaged it without you knowing. So when you go to pay, ensure that all is as you thought it was going to be.

After you have got all those boxes and hundreds of items home, with your partner saying ‘what the …. did you buy those for?’ because in the warmth of your living room/kitchen they don’t seem quite so valuable as they did in the saleroom, you have to decide whether to keep or sell. With me, it is always the latter, hence e-bay.

E-bay is such a wide topic that I can’t possibly cover it all here for the newcomer, so will save for another article. But be assured, it is not that difficult, once you start and get the hang of it.

And as for retail outlets, there is an antique centre close to where I live, so I rent an area at the back so I can display and sell lots of different pieces. They are mainly collectables – antiques are by definition items that are more than 100 years old – and the owner takes the rise out of my cheaper items.

But as I say to him ‘I would rather have a high turnover selling lots of cheaper items than a few expensive pieces that hang around for ages’.

There’s another article waiting to be written about selling unwanted household items at boot sales and antique centres.