A bit of water allegedly sipped by Elvis Presley sold recently on eBay for $455, showing some people will collect anything by someone sufficiently famous. This brings to mind talent scouts for some major league teams who sometimes sign options contracts with high school, middle school, potentially even elementary school students with talent. So why would there not be a niche for speculative memorabilia dealers?
They would look for people showing signs of that something that leads to fame, and buy cheaply junk, trusting some of it can be sold years down the line. This would extend not just to athletes, but writers, actors, politicians, corporate overlords, and so on.
Any one futures-memorabilia buy bets against the odds, but throw a wide enough net and it hits something. One dealer focusing interest in one person would attract further bids to that person and to close associates. Thus could we not see the rise of a class of people who have not done anything, but earn a healthy salary in the expectation they may be the next big thing?
In the logical conclusion, all society is employed in producing stuff that might be collectible. The one thing I'm not happy with about this thought is I can't write it up and get it published in Galaxy Science Fiction magazine in about 1953: when Notary Publics (the aristocracy of this society; they're essential for proving authenticity of items) rule the world!
Trivia: The newspaper United States Gazette counted 3,007 acts of piracy in the West Indes, Gulf of Mexico, and central American waters from the close of the War of 1812 through 1823. Source: Under the Black Flag: Exploits of the Most Notorious Pirates, Don C Seitz.
Currently Reading: The Green Millennium, Fritz Leiber.