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As the popularity of TV shows such as "American Pickers" or "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.

Image source: Paris Match Archive | Getty Images