If you had known, the set of pans would not be the only thing you would have taken from that savings bank that later went bankrupt. Possessed of a forward-thinking spirit, you would have wronged any bland object that adorned the tables of the branch: an ashtray with the name of the dying entity, an ugly paperweight with its logo or a simple corporate pen.
Thirteen years after the financial crisis broke out that caused so many hardships, the pans will be a shame (they will have lost the Teflon bath), but the ashtray, the paperweight and the pen could see their value significantly increased.
It is happening in the United States : the remains of the 2008 ruin have entered the collectibles market with unusual force. People are raving about a keychain from Lehman Brothers , the US financial giant that crashed that September. In late January, The New York Times described the “bustling souvenir market of Lehman Brothers, Enron and other victims of the system.”
On eBay, they asked for a pack of Lehman post-its for 412 euros; 64 euros for an evacuation kit from the dismal investment bank.
There is even a website called Wall Street Treasures(Treasures of Wall Street), dedicated to the sale of this type of article, in which they ask 1,234 euros for a framed poster that celebrates the award to Enron – the energy company that dragged Arthur Andersen into its fall – as the “company more innovative ”and 123 euros for a Lehman paperweight. At first, it sounds like American madness, but, well thought out, these are items that in 50 years could be worth much more.
Collectibles experts find this ghoulish fury consistent. “People treasure the most varied objects,” says Josep María Camps, director of the Desembalaje fair , an antiques and vintage furnishings fair that is held in several Spanish cities throughout the year. “It has a certain logic for what it implies of rarity. They are articles of companies that have disappeared and refer to a historical period that will be studied in textbooks. It is normal”.
Alicia Blanco-González, professor at the Faculty of Legal and Social Sciences at the Rey Juan Carlos University , dedicated her doctoral thesis to analyzing the behavior of collectors. “This trend does not attract my attention,” he says. “One of the factors that most influence when collecting is that you feel identified with the good that you collect.
In this case, perhaps you are highlighting that you have lived through that time and you link it with your own identity. There is a parallel with the memoriabilia of objects of famous people who have passed away: it has that morbid component of having something of someone who is no longer there. Just like movies and series were made of the crisis, you have objects from that historical period that you lived, from companies that disappeared, and therefore they are unique ”.
We tend to think that the collector is a fan of what he collects; thus, the hoarder of records usually stands out as a music lover, and that of works of art, as a lover of painting. But are there really fans of the Great Recession ; devotees of the crisis that in Spain raised the unemployment rate from 8% (2007) to 27% (2013)? Can such a tragic historical period be admired?
“The collector is curious, interested in collecting all the details of a story”, says Josep María Camps. “We see it in fans of memorabilia from the Spanish Civil War : they collect objects from both sides, without a problem. Collecting does not understand politics, but concrete facts ”.
Alicia Blanco-González believes that it is not important that it is “a negative period”, but that what prevails is that “they are unique objects. There are also people who collect objects from the Soviet Union . They understand it as historical periods ”.
Although some of these wish items might hang in museums (such as a Lehman Brothers stock certificate, which sells for € 408), most are boring merchandise (Lehman beach towel, used, € 370; raincoat, 310 euros; Enron wallet and clip box, 185 euros; Enron cap, 123 euros; Nasdaq keychain: 20 euros), some of which it is possible to assume that they were once distributed free to customers. It is surprising that there are people who loosen up the dough for nondescript chain production items.
“The collector is sometimes like that hunter who looks for something more eagerly, the scarcer and more difficult it is to find,” explains Alicia Blanco-González.
“A collection gains value the fewer units there are. In this case, being limited to a specific historical moment, the offer is limited and that makes the products more desirable. The search process in those secondary markets is what amuses the collector. If then they are going to make it profitable or not is something else ”.
At the moment, the phenomenon is not reflected in Spain . For the price at which they are sold, the similar objects that can be found on second-hand collectors and sales sites seem to be put there by someone who just wants to get rid of them. A set of ten key chains from defunct banks and savings banks is available at Todo Colección for 30 euros.
Two “Banesto souvenir” ashtrays, for 10 euros, and a Caja Madrid T-shirt, for 8, are sold at Wallapop . In this same portal, the seller of a Caja Madrid key ring (12 euros) has indeed had the nose to describe it as “unique piece, ideal for collectors”. Ten years ago they were offered for symbolic prices: in 2011 a Construcciones y Contratas pin was purchased at TodoColección for 0.99 euros.
Recession in a big way: chronicle of the 10 years of crisis that changed the world. “There are countries where collecting is more developed,” says the expert. “Spain is a slightly more secondary market. It is difficult to predict if it will be played here (at the moment there is not much revaluation), but surely there are people who collect Caja Madrid shirts just as there are those who collect old Real Madrid shirts or merchandising of political parties ”.
A separate issue is to elucidate if those obsessed by the ball are so for simple enjoyment or the hope of getting a slice in the future. “If you ask a collector, he does not usually confess that he buys for investment purposes. But there are many who do ”, says the teacher. “
The collectibles market is supply and demand. If searching is easy, it doesn’t generate a striking appreciation. At the moment, there are so many products that it does not generate an attractive market. The key lies in having unique objects and waiting to see the evolution ”.