personal finance

Five alternative investments that you can enjoy


The ideal alternative investment is something you can enjoy and then sell at a profit when the time is right. So much the better if it is low maintenance and portable, which probably rules out race horses and vintage cars.

Whether you buy from a reputable dealer or bid at auction may depend on your knowledge of the market and attitude to risk. The following suggestions should be treated as starting points for further research. And you’ll need some luck as well!

1. Whisky

Some single malt Scottish whiskies have quadrupled in value in the last seven years. Brands like Macallan, Glenmorangie and Highland Park have been star performers. A 50-year-old Macallan, worth £4,000 in 2008, would probably cost about £20,000 now.

A whisky’s age is measure by time in the cask and, unlike wine, it doesn’t change in the bottle.

Several websites like whiskyhighland keep a check on the market and at least you can always drink the stuff if prices plunge.

Read our tips for buying at auction.

2. Picasso ceramics

His paintings sell for millions but his pottery can be picked up for thousands.

Picasso made his designs at a factory in France which reproduced them in batches of around 500. Examples from these limited editions regularly come up for auction and have proved increasingly popular with collectors. 

This year a plate with a bullfight design sold for £6,446, double its estimate, while a jug went for £15,310 – five times more than expected.

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3. Ski posters

Vintage travel posters can brighten up the home without breaking the bank – many fine examples can be bought at auction for between £1,000 and £5,000.

Ski posters tend to be among the most prized, especially if they are by revered artists such as Roger Broders. Prices, though, can be unpredictable. This year his design for St Pierre de Chartreuse sold at Christie’s for £19,500 compared with £32,500 for the same design at the same auction house three years ago.

Sales at Onslows often feature less expensive designs.

Thinking about selling some of your items at auction? Read our guide.

4. First edition books

At the very least, a first edition of a favourite book will have sentimental value. For classic 20th century novels, much of the financial value lies in the dust jacket, ideally in fine condition and not price clipped. If the book is signed by the author so much the better.

A signed and inscribed first edition of Tolkein’s ‘The Hobbit’ in fantastic condition recently sold for £137,000, an unsigned edition in fair condition might fetch £50,000, while a copy without a dust jacket would be lucky to fetch £5,000.

Do you have some treasures in your wardrobe? Read our tips for selling vintage clothes.

5. Watches

Choose the right watch and you could have a practical everyday item which will increase in value. The Swiss are the undisputed leaders, with a rare model by Patek Philippe made from stainless steel selling for £9 million in 2017.

For something more affordable, auctioneers like Fellows in Birmingham hold regular sales of older style mechanical watches by makers such as Rolex, Omega and Breitling – many in the £500 to £5000 range. Buying at auction probably won’t have the same guarantees as buying from new.

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