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As the popularity of TV shows such as "Antiques Roadshow" proves, collecting antiques — or what's hoped are antiques — is hardly the rarified pursuit of only the elite or erudite. With luck, that end table inherited from a great-aunt just may turn out to be worth a little something, after all.

Some casual collectors, however, eventually morph into serious investors, turning their appreciation of older objects into an investment strategy. But given wild price fluctuations, a lack of regular income, high fees and the illiquidity of this type of physical asset, antiques investing is a long-term proposition more akin to investing in real estate. Park your money in antiques only if you're prepared to sit on it — the funds, not the furniture — for a good long while.

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