D&D Barn Finds and Tales from the Collecting Trail
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Post Posted: Sat Oct 30, 2004 3:56 am 
 

Post your best about the ones that didn't get away. From yard sales, old bookstores, early rec.games.frp marketplace, etc. Tell your tales of amazing deals and finds.

I shared this story with Paul recently and it gave me the idea for this thread

I was just thinking about your trips across the country to old gamestores and used bookstores. I was a band manager in the summers of 96 - 98 and traveled from coast to coast. I too scavenged quite a bit during those summers, and one story stands out. I was in Normal, Illinois a mid-size collage town in the center of the state. We had some free time, so it was business as usual for me, find the gamestore or used bookstore. I came across the gamestore first and to my disappointment all the old items were in plastic and marked up accordingly. No big deal I just took a look around talked to the owner and left. Upon leaving I caught up with a few of the other people on the tour just "two blocks away" at a small used bookstore. Just out of curiosity I asked the clerk if she had any old D&D stuff. Holy Cow! It was a whole shelf about four feet wide and loaded with multiples of first edition AD&D rulebooks and modules, 2nd print woody 3 OCEs plus many rare titles I'd never heard of at the time. All the hardbacks and box sets were $5 and modules $1 or $2. Needless to say I cleared them out and still have almost all of it. The coolest thing in the lot was (and I had no idea what it was until the Acaeum) the 1976 in-house TSR character sheets only missing a few of the sheets. Funny enough I remember she just threw it in for free  :D   those where the days......

In opposition to those blissful days I recently went to our local used bookstore and found some decent 1st edition AD&D modules and a few old comics. They were nothing rare and in good condition at best. The clerk typed each title in her google search engine and priced them accordingly to the best of her ability. I couldn't believe my eyes especially when she was digging around the Acaeum. I just laughed under my breath and declined what she was asking.

Mike :D

  


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Post Posted: Sat Oct 30, 2004 2:54 pm 
 

Before the eBay explosion, I snagged a lot (a lot!) of stuff from one of the cons here in Colorado.  The guy had massive collections and was mostly a wargamer, so he didn't know what he had to sell.  He wanted to make room for Squad Leader stuff and he asked me how much of the stuff I wanted before he opened - I said, as much as I can carry.  He gave me an empty box.  I filled it, cherry-picking mercilessly.  Nothing epic, but lots of WGR1, Vecna, pastels, H series, that kind of thing.  He weighed the box in his hands, said it felt like about 50 lbs., so he charged me $50.

It took me 4 years to get rid of everything - some were private trades, but the best I can estimate is that I made about $9,000 off that box.  I didn't have to buy anything else for the first 2 years I was in business.  My rep grew after that and he still forces me to move boxes of wargames around when I see him ... a service I'm happy to oblige with.
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Post Posted: Sun Oct 31, 2004 1:13 am 
 

I've told this story before online a few times, don't know if it was here or not but it's been a long time ago..so...
   In 1994 I started buying, selling and trading online on the AOL forums (free listings, god bless them).  In 1995 I was heavy into non-tsr stuff and looking for items to resell or trade for rare D&D, middle earth, harn, etc.   I was checking every gaming or used bookstore within 50 miles for any used D&D stuff and thought I had pretty much hit them all.  One day my brother calls and says he has something for me.  He loves to paint miniatures, and he's in this hobby store buying paints and brushes, when he happens to ask the guy if he has any old RPG stuff (since he knows I'm looking for it). Although there is nothing on the shelves except for trains, models, typical hobby store stuff, he decided to take a shot.  The guy says he bought the store from another guy, who used to sell that kind of D&D stuff, but it's been sitting in a closet for the past 4-5 years or so.  The catch is that the closet is behind some shelves in the store and hasn't been opened for the 4-5 years the shelves have been sitting there.  The owner just wasn't interested enough to either move the shelves or get someone else to do it to check inside, but he tells my brother that if I want to come look I'm welcome to it.
   I'm instantly hooked.  I go down to the store and find that the shelves are heavy metal and pretty much bolted down in front of this closet.   However, he has one box he says that is representative of what was in the closet, it obviously wasn't put inside when the shelves were put up.  Inside is a copy of H1 still in the shrink, with a bunch of other SW goodies from the 1988-1992 era, include a From the Ashes box, City of Greyhawk, etc, all SW mint.  Ok, now I'm really hooked.  With the owner's permission, I manage to crawl THROUGH the shelves after removing the contents of the lower shelf (the shelves are spaced, you can see the closet on the other side), and manage to get the door open and turn on the light inside. Among the rat poop and dust (yuch) I found a bunch of forgotten goodies from the 88-92 years when the old store stocked D&D stuff.  There was a case of SW City of Greyhawk and From the Ashes (about ten copies each), tons of World of Greyhawk SW like Greyhawk Ruins, Vale of the Mage, Fate of Istus, Vecna Lives, Battlesystem boxed sets, boxes and boxes of Star Frontiers minis still SW, but the best find of all was a box with 5 copies of H1 still in the shrink and looking brand new except for dust  (all of which I sold almost immediately, oh well....).  I bought almost everything for several hundred dollars, a bargain since he only charged me cover price plus gave me a huge discount.  I immediately sold everything I could to get out of debt (poor graduate student at the time), and traded the rest for rare Runequest or whatever I was collecting at the time. Over the next year I made 2-3 more trips back and focused on more of the non-D&D stuff, but after that I had pretty much cleaned the place out of the rare items leaving only the common stuff...which the guy eventually put up on the shelves after he finally moved the metal shelf one day and cleaned out the closet.  That's the best "lost find" I've ever had, I still can't believe a guy just put up a shelf in front of a closet full of product, but it was my gain, but it just goes to show along with other posts here that it never hurts to ask!!!

Mike B.

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 31, 2004 1:20 am 
 

invincibleoverlord wrote:In opposition to those blissful days I recently went to our local used bookstore and found some decent 1st edition AD&D modules and a few old comics. They were nothing rare and in good condition at best. The clerk typed each title in her google search engine and priced them accordingly to the best of her ability. I couldn't believe my eyes especially when she was digging around the Acaeum. I just laughed under my breath and declined what she was asking.

Mike :D


I've actually walked out of a used bookstore that tried to price a stack of items I'd picked out by getting on the internet and going to ebay.  I just left the stack of items (which I was willing to pay $100 or more for, since everything else in the store was priced at cover or half-cover and that's what I had figured the cost) and walked right out.  If you're not smart enough to price your own stuff and need ebay to do the work for you, my advice is to put it up on Ebay yourself and sell it there (which I pretty much told the surprised owner as I stomped out) or get out of the selling used item business.  Sheesh.

Mike B.

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 31, 2004 11:56 am 
 

I was never a real D&D collector until one time in about 1997 I was shopping in a mall and there was a mini antique sale on.  One of the venders had a small pile of 1st ed modules including a pastel version of D3; now when I played in the 80's I had never seen this version, mine was color.  I bought it for $10.00 or so just to see what it was like and he gave me his card to a little store.  I went home and read it and started to miss my old game so I went to his store to by some more stuff.

Interestingly enough it turns out this guy worked at a game store in his youth and had purchased virtually one of every RPG item from his boss at cost.  Years later he opened up this little antique store and put these items up for sale; he had everything and they were barely touched many still in the shrinkwrap.  I purchased about $500.00 worth of my favorite modules I had always wanted to own but could not afford when I was young.  As the year wore on I went back month after month buying about $50.00 worth of stuff each time, all items were at there original cover price and then he gave me bigger discounts each time I returned, funny thing was I was the only one buying this stuff; I was mining him so to speak.

One day he told me about this online site called Ebay and how he would sell it online if only he had a computer.  I ran home to look for this unusual site, to my surpise some of it had actual real collector value.  I got to thinking, maybe I should buy him out before anybody else discovered this cache of items.  It was close to christmas so I waited till about the end of November and then I struck.  I waltz in, he seamed a little down and I told him I had come into some money and wanted everything he had left, that sure brightened up his day I tell you.  We spent most of the day adding up and boxing this amazing collection and then at the end it came to about $3500.00 his retail for about 500 or so items.  I hummed and hawed telling him that was a lot of cash and since I was buying everything perhaps a 50% discount was in order.  Immediatly he said no.  After bickering for a while finally he agreed and off I went.

In the end I ended up with a complete 1st ed collection all mint, mostly complete basic colection and about half complete set of 2nd ed with many many items still in shrink (IE gazetters, H series, etc etc), complete Cthulhu collection of all printings all in shrink, All the Early Warhammer stuff MINT, Huge collection of Middle Earth and Rolemaster, hundreds of magazines, Judges Guild Etc.

Since I have sold many of the items I didn't care about (middle earth for example) and fleshed out the missing items.  I know am only about 20 items from a complete set of everything ever published for D&D (YEs most of the rares) and have started to collect different printings as well.

Thats my biggest story, have have some other stories I will share in the future.

Thanks!!


Games can get you through times of no money but money can not get you through times of no games!!

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 31, 2004 3:11 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
I've actually walked out of a used bookstore that tried to price a stack of items I'd picked out by getting on the internet and going to ebay. I just left the stack of items (which I was willing to pay $100 or more for, since everything else in the store was priced at cover or half-cover and that's what I had figured the cost) and walked right out. If you're not smart enough to price your own stuff and need ebay to do the work for you, my advice is to put it up on Ebay yourself and sell it there (which I pretty much told the surprised owner as I stomped out) or get out of the selling used item business. Sheesh.

Mike B.


Thats ridiculous how could anyone use eBay as a cost basis. It's not a price guide. Some people I'm telling you……..Nice walk out on that one Mike.

  

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Post Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 8:47 pm 
 

invincibleoverlord wrote:Badmike wrote:
I've actually walked out of a used bookstore that tried to price a stack of items I'd picked out by getting on the internet and going to ebay. I just left the stack of items (which I was willing to pay $100 or more for, since everything else in the store was priced at cover or half-cover and that's what I had figured the cost) and walked right out. If you're not smart enough to price your own stuff and need ebay to do the work for you, my advice is to put it up on Ebay yourself and sell it there (which I pretty much told the surprised owner as I stomped out) or get out of the selling used item business. Sheesh.

Mike B.


Thats ridiculous how could anyone use eBay as a cost basis. It's not a price guide. Some people I'm telling you……..Nice walk out on that one Mike.


    I actually had a better walk out.  At the Crime and Space bookstore in Austin (actually a really cool hole in the wall type bookstore), I found an Arkham House book I had really wanted for awhile at a very reasonable price.  When I remarked to the guy behind the counter that I had been looking for that one for awhile and that was an excellent price, he kind of did a double take, scratched his chin, stared at the book over his glasses, then announced that the book had the wrong price, he was going to have to mark it up, oh, $20.  I guess he figued since I had been looking for it so long I wouldn't mind a little extortion at the cash register. Needless to say, he didn't make the sale, I walked out an unhappy buyer with a few choice words for him, and didn't go back for a few years. It wasn't until I a few years later that I talked to a guy at a convention who was working a table for Crime and Space that the guy I had dealt with had been fired soon after that incident....probably pocketing the extra money he was marking up on books!!!  Funny thing is I eventually got the book on Ebay about a $100 cheaper than it was at the store, so it ended up working out ok for me.  
    As for pricing using Ebay, I know two other bookstores that actually do this.  I honestly wouldn't have anything against this (it's probably the best barometer in regards to what collectible items cost when it comes to stuff like RPGs that there isn't a standardized price guide), but at least put the price on the book instead of waiting until the unsuspecting customer gets to the counter to start hunting and pecking on the computer.  Why buy from them if they are only going to compare prices on Ebay, I'll just go to Ebay myself and cut out the middle man.

Mike B.

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Post Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 9:50 pm 
 

Here's kind of a funny one. Not the rarest of items, but at the time more valuable than its weight in gp's. I was on the last tour I managed in 98. We where in LA on Melrose Ave. The last place you'd expect to find any RPG's among the Punk Rock record shops and fetish boutiques. At the time I was heavily involved in the Forgotten Realms and trying to fill in gaps from my collection. I was only missing a couple of items to date a N5 under Illefarn, FR2 Moonshae, and a FR3 Empire of the Sands. I was walking along and I noticed the Forgotten Realm's Hardback in the window display of a used record shop. I was puzzled so I entered and questioned the cute, pierced, and tattooed girl behind the counter about to book. What a Geek! To my surprise she was quite adoring to me and said there where a few more items behind to counter someone had used as trade in. Apperantly they took in all kinds of "trinkets" as trade. All the FR items I needed were in there plus a few more FR's and AD&D modules! I got it all including the hardback in the window for $10 bucks! I did try and convince the clerk to come to the show, however she had "prior arrangements" you know boyfriend Sid Vicious and all. No big I was a happy little nerd that day.

  


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Post Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 10:26 pm 
 

invincibleoverlord wrote:but at the time more valuable than its weight in gp's.

This got me thinking, "How many rarities out there are literally worth their weight in gold?".  (Hardcover books are clearly out).

Gold is currently trading at $428.20/troy oz.  My very inaccurate scale has a Tsojconth at approximately 75 grams, or about 2.25 troy oz.  This works out to $963.45, which is believable.  Go figure.

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