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(ARA) – From Star Wars stamps to Pez dispensers, collectors all over the world scour everything from auctions to antique festivals searching for pieces equal to the “holy grail’ in their collectible categories. What drives them? For some, it’s the thrill of the hunt. For others, it’s having the most prized possession in the palm of their hands. For all, however, it’s the camaraderie amongst like collectors looking for that same big find.

For the avid collector or amateur, the world’s most devout — fanatics of Fiesta Dinnerware — share their secrets to building a collection that will make your collecting comrades green with envy.

Determine your goals
There are two goals in collecting: buying what you love and buying what will resell at a higher price. First, determine if you love to collect this item or if you plan to buy, sell or even trade. Then collect accordingly, says Wendy English of Arizona. English is literally “driven” by her love of Fiesta. Vanity plates on both her vehicles are: FIESTA1 and LVDISHES.  

Pick your passion
People start collections for as many reasons as there are items to collect — nostalgia, as a means of investment and carrying on a tradition. For Harvey Linn of North Carolina, it’s personal. He ate off of a Fiesta plate (always Cobalt blue) at his grandmother’s house in the mid 1960s. With her passing in 1986, he found that same, now vintage, plate and became a collector of his grandmother’s beloved dinnerware.

Do your homework
If you don’t know much about the category you’re collecting, you might be duped when purchasing a coveted item. Know the value of certain items, how rare they are compared to others and what conditions are acceptable for resale, especially if you plan to sell or trade.

Make friends
What better way to find the latest and greatest information about your collectables than from your peers? Join a club dedicated to your desires. You’ll find everything you want to know about the category and you’ll make friends that share your passion.

Display the prize
Don’t make the mistake of storing items in a cardboard box in the garage. Maintain them by keeping them out where you and others can enjoy them. And what better way to keep inventory of what you have and need? However, be sure to keep fragile and extremely rare items behind glass or in cases to keep them from being broken or soiled.

Display by theme, style or time period
To create an eye-catching display, look for commonalities like color or time period. English collects only vintage pieces and displays them by the place setting in her kitchen. “I have a set in every color, except Sapphire,” she says. While shelving or cabinets are ideal, some collectors designate entire rooms to their collections. “It really depends on the size of your items, and overall collection,” adds English.

Don’t settle
Settling for a specific piece that is less than perfect is a big mistake. For instance, don’t purchase the sugar bowl sans lid — it will surely disappoint. Most collectors buy an item thinking they’ll find the missing lid or accessory, which is rarely the case. Purchase only intact, well-maintained pieces for the best return on investment.

Look for “numbered” items or limited editions
Linn collects for quality, not quantity. “I used to pick up odds and ends,” he says. “Now, I only buy numbered or special edition items.”

Shop “secondary” markets
Linn looks to the Internet, online shopping sites and even blogs for hard-to-find pieces. “I look for items made in a year ending in five or zero,” he says. This year, Fiesta collectors are buzzing about the first of three anniversary collections. Considered an American icon, the brand turns 75 in 2011. “When there is a limited color collection with special back-stamp, it makes the collecting community very happy,” he says. Today, the 75th anniversary mixing bowls are available at retail stores, but next year the item retires and says Linn, “will trickle into secondary markets and become the newest must-have.”

Courtesy of ARAcontent