In this blog I want to help with Evaluating Your Collectible! I will also go over things to watch out for and questions to ask along the way. There are many different aspects that make up a collectible. The below topics can help better understand your collection. Well, let’s get started!
The first thing you notice about a collectible is the condition. Condition refers to the appearance of the collectible. This can include scratches, dings, discoloring, blemishes, warping, creasing, and other cosmetic imperfections. It can also include if it is in working order or has been refurbished and restored. The condition will directly impact its price. Based on condition, there can be a drastic swing in the pricing and value of a collectible. The better the condition the more desirable the collectible is. The emergence of grading in the past few years shows just how important condition is to collectibles and collectors alike.
Supply and Demand
Supply is how readily available the collectible is to purchase. A few questions to determine this are the following. Can you log onto eBay and purchase it immediately or will it sit in your saved searches for months? Was it mass produced or does it have a limited quantity? Is it out of print? Are people selling it or is it stored in personal collections? When you start asking those questions it is extremely easy to determine the patterns and its availability. The more a collectible is available makes it easier to meet demand.
Demand is how desirable and wanted a collectible is. If a collectible is in high demand, there will be more buyers. You can determine the demand by researching how often it sells. If there is a lot of excitement over an item, people constantly posting pictures on their Show & Tell or saying they want to buy the collectible in the Forums, there is a good chance it is in high demand.
Now, the real fun comes when you mix supply and demand together. When the demand is high there are a lot of buyers. So if the supply is low there will be a lot of competition for that collectible. This will gradually increase the price as buyers outbid each other. If the demand is low and the supply is high, the sellers will try to undercut each other, in turn lowering the price. If both demand and supply are the same, the price will plateau. This is a very basic breakdown of supply and demand, but important in collectibles as demand is constantly changing. Take note of the supply and demand of your collectible when making buying and selling decisions.
Nostalgic and Historic Value
When looking at a collectible, you should try to determine if it has nostalgic or historic value. Every item has a story and that usually determines what a person collects. After all, there should be a reason to collecting, right?
This is how people connect with an item on an emotional level. It can be anything from a toy you played with as a child, a trading card your parents bought for you or a fond memory of a video game you stayed up late playing with friends. Everyone’s experiences are different. Something that is nostalgic for you might not be for someone else. You will usually see when adults hit their 30s, they want to collect things they had as a kid. Many people collect a hobby where there is some nostalgic attachment. They might branch out a bit but the root of the hobby will be nostalgia driven. Try to keep in mind when evaluating your collectibles if the reason people collect something is based on their childhood nostalgia.
This one is a bit different than based on the history of the item and not the induvial collector’s emotions. This can be an item from a historical event, a sports athlete, autographs, paintings, first prints, documents and even currency. A lot of people love the idea of collecting history and feeling like they own a piece of it. Looking at an item and knowing that it has some significance brings the item to life and gives it a story.
However, there can be crossover between the two categories. Most of the time a pop culture phenomenon collectible can be considered a historic event, that people grew up with. In that case a collectible could have both values.
Speculation vs Organic Interest
Something that you should be thinking about is why a collectible has the value it does. Sometimes people want it because they love the item, this is organic interest. Other times people buy collectibles in the hopes that the value over time will go up, this is speculation. Both are valid reasons, but make sure you know which one is driving the demand. There will be no cut and dry answer for this, so you will need to use you best judgement. Try to be critical of the reasoning people are giving for collecting an item on Forums and determine why people want it. Try to recognize if the discussion revolves around the love of the collectible or if it’s about monetary value. It is important to know if the item is being speculated on or has actual organic interest.
If the collectible is standalone then this one is easy. However, some collectibles such as toys, video games and media can come with many components. There could be small pieces, instructions, inserts or even pack-ins like trading cards or stickers. It is important to know how “complete” your item is. The term “complete” differs from person to person. Some collectors do not care about these small pack-ins and as long as you have the box and collectible. Others want everything the original package came with. A lot of the little pack-ins can be extremely rare and valuable as they were usually tossed long ago.
Now You Know!
There you have it, my list of things to keep in mind when you are evaluating your collectibles. The more you pay attention to these things the easier it will be to identify in the future. Eventually it will just come naturally. Let me know in the comments section if this has helped you or if I have missed anything!