Collectors may sometimes be viewed as eccentric hoarders, but they’re having the last laugh. Knight Frank’s Luxury Investment Index reveals that passion-driven investments have significantly outperformed more traditional assets, such as the FTSE 100 or even London, New York and Paris property.

With the exception of furniture, all enthusiasm-led purchases have done well. Henry Wyndham, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, explains that ‘2012 was a year of tumbling records, capped by Edvard Munch’s The Scream, which we sold for nearly $120 million [£79 million], a world record for any work of art sold at auction’. ‘There has never been so much interest in art and culture,’ agrees Jussi Pylkkänen, chairman of Christie’s Europe, Middle East, Russia and India. ‘We are seeing demand at every level.’ Even with furniture, the best things make ‘huge money’, says COUNTRY LIFE’s saleroom correspondent Huon Mallalieu. ‘People are realising that, lower down, there are many bargains -partly because old, or “brown”, furniture has been talked down so relentlessly. The middle range can be of mixed quality, however, and that is where people really ought to look. As ever, quality is all.’

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Stamps have more than trebled in value. One particularly sought-after example, Sweden’s tre skilling banco, which was wrongly printed on an amber background rather than the customary blue in 1855, sold in 2010 for £1.7 million. ‘Stamps are quietly building a following among wealthy investors, many of whom are not actually collectors,’ reports Andrew Shirley of Knight Frank.

Rare coins have also risen significantly. In January, the Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, minted in 1794, broke all records when it sold at auction for $10 million (about £6.61 million). That said, warns Mr Shirley, the increase quoted is based on the value of the most collectable English coins: ‘Don’t hold out much hope for granny’s old shillings.’

A Ferrari 250 GTO can be an excellent investment which also brings joy to an owner

The ultimate in collecting indulgence-classic cars- produced what Dietrich Hatlapa, founder of Historic Automobile Group International, calls ‘a turbo-charged performance’, even though ‘only the most desirable marques and models will have done this well’. Last June, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO made history when it sold for $35 million (£23.2 million), having been bought for $3.5 million (£2.3 million) 16 years earlier. The only asset to have performed better is gold. Although Liam Bailey of Knight Frank advises that ‘values can fall quickly’, let’s face it, surely an old Aston Martin beats a pile of shiny ingots any time?

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