Wednesday

Wednesday 19/03/2003Assuming you have any, where do you put your money these days? With the traditional investment vehicles scattered around the place like so many burned-out tanks -- see www.

Wednesday 19/03/2003
Assuming you have any, where do you put your money these days? With the traditional investment vehicles scattered around the place like so many burned-out tanks -- see www.badpension.com for a creative take on this -- and no economy safe from the jitters, it's not easy to call. Gold? Gasmasks? No. Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian are the keys to a profitable future.

Let me explain. Today, Apple has laid to rest the original iMac, the sweetie-like computer that turned the company around five years ago and regained Apple its reputation as the hippest bit-shifter on the block. They were OK computers, but brilliant examples of must-have marketing. Fab form, and all those colours to choose from. For a while in the late 90s, you couldn't visit any remotely creative premises without tripping over one of the translucent gumdrops. They were obviously -- and will always be -- very collectable.

Nothing Apple did subsequently could capture the initial shock of the computer's introduction. But it did try, and among the experiments were a couple of essays in multicoloured translucent mouldings, the Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian iMacs. To be honest, they look like psychedelic dogs' breakfasts -- the multihued case is pretty cool, but it's only the top half: the whole effect is a bit like a coloured shirt with a white collar. However, Apple only made a few of them.

In the world of antique wireless collection, there is a close parallel. In the early 1930s a British company called Ekco commissioned a famous architect, Wells Coates, to design a striking case for a new radio. The result was called the AD65, and you'd recognise it at once -- perfectly round with a semicircular dial around the outside of the case. There were two main models -- walnut-patterned Bakelite or black with chrome fittings -- and they became instant icons. In top condition, they can fetch up to £2,000 these days (original price: eleven pounds and sixpence). The company also made a small number of brightly coloured cases. Find one of these in Granny's loft and you could be looking at £20,000 at auction.

I'd keep an eye on eBay, if I were you.