Valuations ^^
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Post Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 5:12 pm 
 

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, it seems to be a fait accompli that The Acaeum is moving in the direction of an online price guide.  There are pitfalls to this, and one only need to look at both the trading card market and the comic book market to note that.  However, since The Acaeum is headed in this direction, it's incumbent as members of it to present all available options to those who are part of the valuation board.



I can see where not grading the book but listing the defects has benefits.  It does allow the buyer to determine whether he wants it or not, and there's nothing wrong with that.  But in the case of the valuation board, since they have in fact established a price guide of sorts, our hands are tied.  I just don't believe the valuation board is using the right system to grade books, because there are just too many variables that aren't taken into account with a comic book-based grading system.



  

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Post Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:34 pm 
 

Actually, Harami, she finds more stuff than I do. She has bought her share of dogs, like a beat up D1-2 for $10, but she has more than made up for it.


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:39 am 
 

A few things to keep in mind:



- While descriptions are beneficial and are the best way to judge an item you are bidding on, it isn't much help in establishing a price guide for others to judge value. For myself, in all my auctions, I grade the item in question and give a detailed description of all flaws.



- The question of "missing" components is one of the most  tricky issues. To grade it as "Poor" is one possibility, however, the sale prices of such items simply do not bear this out. This means that if you had a VERY FINE box set worth $100, but it was missing reference sheets the value would plummet to $10.00 (on the scale that traveller is using).  If I offered you the missing sheets to complete your set it would increase the value by $90.00. Thus, in a way, a set of reference sheets could then be worth $90.00? (in this situation)



- Different names in grading is just a question of semantics. Whether you assign Near Mint as 100% or Very Fine as 100% matters much less than what the definitions of these grades are.



- I do agree that all grading must be kept in a certain context. My own proposed scale is not intended as simple hard and fast rules . . . just a more detailed guideline for ascertaining grades.



- I've enjoyed reading everyone's input so far and there have been many viable suggestions and astute observations (especially when they are not laced with sarcasm)  :wink:


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 8:03 am 
 

beyondthebreach wrote:
- I've enjoyed reading everyone's input so far and there have been many viable suggestions and astute observations (especially when they are not laced with sarcasm) :wink:




I agree with that.  It seems to me there is some lack of respect and trust between members in regards to the valuations.  We should all be trying to help each other out to get this thing right, because we are all really share the same love and the same goal  :D .  I think that the accusations and the defensiveness about the valuations are very counterproductive.


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:28 pm 
 

beyondthebreach wrote:The question of "missing" components is one of the most tricky issues. To grade it as "Poor" is one possibility, however, the sale prices of such items simply do not bear this out. This means that if you had a VERY FINE box set worth $100, but it was missing reference sheets the value would plummet to $10.00 (on the scale that traveller is using). If I offered you the missing sheets to complete your set it would increase the value by $90.00. Thus, in a way, a set of reference sheets could then be worth $90.00? (in this situation)


I agree that missing parts is one of the trickiest issues, but here's the thing. The ONLY reason that you're not seeing the sale prices reflect their true valuation is that up until now, no one has attempted to actually attempted to set a specific price for a specific grade. They've used the prices that The Acaeum gave as guidelines, but there was no real rhyme or reason behind the price structure. Since there seemed to be a lot of confusion in that respect, the prices that The Acaeum posts on its pages were more often than not ignored by those who are not members of The Acaeum, or not aware of the existence of the site.



In regards to grading items missing parts as Poor, it's necessary to keep in mind that the item is not complete unless all the components are present. Regardless of the sales figures from ebay, which tend to be inflated due to unethical sellers and buyers, if it's missing parts, how can you even grade something as "Very Good"? Perhaps the only solution to the dilemma is to grade each individual component and divide the percentages I noted for each grade (using my system here) by the number of components. That way, if you are in fact missing a component, it hurts, but it doesn't hurt nearly as much as dropping the whole to 10% of Very Fine.



Now as I noted earlier, the grading system mentions the presence of dustjackets. However, very few RPG materials have them. The only ones I can think of that have dustjackets are 2d Edition RuneQuest and The Traveller Book. Since there are very few games with dustjackets, why not translate the dustjacket grading into map and box grading, noting that the absence of the box or map will affect the final grade.



Let's use an OCE as an example of how this might work. An OCE consists of five things:



  • Men & Magic
  • Monsters & Treasures
  • Underworld and Wilderness Adventures
  • Reference Sheets
  • Box

Let's say that the box is pretty trashed, no better than Good. The reference sheets are missing, and the three books grade at Very Good for two of them, and Near Fine for the third. Adding the percentages together and dividing by the number of items, we get...



35%+0%*+50%+50%+65%=40%



Since 40% falls between Good and Very Good, this OCE could in fact be graded as Good+ or something like that. So if an OCE at the high end is approximately $125, 40% of that is $50. That's a lot more fair than automatically reducing the value to 10%, don't you think?



If someone does in fact offer Reference Sheets, then the grade will improve because the item is in fact complete. Let's say we've got a Very Fine set of Reference Sheets mixed in with some miscellaneous auction and we add them to the set we've already graded. Very Fine is full price. Adding the percentages...



35%+100%+50%+50%+65%=60%



The total grade of the item jumped from Good+ to Near Fine-. The value then would be $75, or a $25 gain compared to the same set without the reference sheets. And that is certainly less dramatic an increase than what you illustrated in your example.



*Missing items, being missing, have no value whatsoever.



  


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:31 pm 
 

Traveller, you make a lot of sense (and have been more helpful than I would have believed possible). I have one more question for you (well, for all of you I suppose). I am currently gathering pictures of my stuff but find it VERY difficult to get my digital camera to get a good, close shot. One that would show ALL of the small imperfections and allow the buyer to judge for themselves if they wanted it or not. Is it better to SCAN the covers (if not to thick), change them to jpg (great info on doing that from Traveller) and utilize those? My scanner seems to show more of the small imperfections than my camera does, but only gets one page. Is it worth it to try and take a picture of the spine to show the staples and any warping that may be present? Do any of you ever take pictures of the INSIDES of books?

Specifically, my Referees Screen has two, three sectioned pieces, with info on both sides, plus all the paper reference sheets and modules included. How can you get good views of all that? Especially when the screen is laminated and gives me a big white blob from the flash but doesn't come out too well without a flash? Some of the pictures I have seen  on ebay have the sheets (books, etc) fanned out like a hand of cards, but that doesn't show all the parts of the books. Is it simply a matter of knowing your seller and if not, taking the item (albiet with a less then perfect view) on faith?


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:46 pm 
 

Cav, here's a couple of thoughts:



1. Scanning covers usually works great. You're right, the imperfections really pop out, but I've found that to actually be a positive. Many buyers have commented that they appreciated the chance to judge the cover for themselves, nicks and all, rather than have me write a highly subjective two-paragraph description.



2. Could you beg/borrow/steal a camera that has a better telephoto feature?



3. For #3, I'm assuming two things: first, you're planning on multiple photos per item; second, you're leaning toward eBay as a venue.



If both of the above are true, keep in mind that eBay LOVES to make extra money from sellers posting multiple photos. This can eat into your profits, especially for lower-end items. There are ways around this, though: image-hosting services or embedding photos into a description can both "trick" eBay into thinking you're only listing one photo.

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:51 pm 
 

Scan them. My scanner is amazingly anal, it picks up imperfections that you can't even see normally.

Trav, your formula makes sense, except for one thing. Take your boxed set sans ref sheets. What would YOU pay for it? 40% of full price? I don't think anyone would, especially since the rest of the set is in poor condition. There is only one grade for a multiple-component item that is missing parts. INCOMPLETE. You really can't put a $$ value on it. Long ago I bought a whitey for $8, because the ref sheets were missing. That is all it was worth to me, because I knew getting the ref sheets would be a huge task. It took me almost 2 years to get sheets for it. I won't do that again.

Now for things like brownies, it might be worthwhile to bid on an incomplete item if the components are better than one you currently own. Let's do the math.

I buy a 3rd print brownie, NM books/sheets, box Fair. I pay $650.

Another brownie comes up. Books are fair, sheets missing, box is VF. What would I bid on this? If I throw $260 at it (40%), I end up with a VF box/NM books brownie (say $750), and a Fair set with no ref sheets. I could hope to get $200 for the Fair set (I personally wouldn't pay that much), so I profit say $20 after shipping, fees, blah blah blah, if I am lucky, plus I upgrade my set. Some collectors do this, I have in the past, but I think very few actively seek to upgrade their collections unless they can do so at a cheap price.

I think any way you look at it, incomplete is just that, not Fine+, not Fair. Incomplete.


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:05 pm 
 

Xaxaxe, thanks for your input.

1) I am leaning towards the scanner exactly because it shows everything. I have read enough here from TRUE collectors (unlike me) to not want to be accused of over stating the condition of an item plus the fact that I am so new at this (my ebay rating thing hasn't even reached 10 yet) that I am relying on Travellers help in teaching me the proper way to grade my stuff.

2) No go on a different camera.

3) Not at all sure about ebay being my choice to sell. I certainly want to get as much as I can for what I have without screwing anyone (or being screwed) which is why I joined this forum of obvious professionals to gather information. But if I find someone here who wants what I have and will give it a good home, I certainly wouldn't balk at selling privately.

On a personal note: I just moved here from Reno a year and a half ago. Grew up in Incline and did the SR431 commute for ten years. Saint Mary's in the Mountains (VC) was built (the brickwork anyway) by my great-great grandpa. Nice to talk to someone from my hometown (but glad I am not commuting this year!)


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 4:43 pm 
 

(re. "estimated value" trends 2001-5 on previous page)



Deadlord36 wrote:Where did you come up with that, Harami?


Sorry... Forgot to reply to that, Frank!



Current Acaeum listing, the pages which were still in the Google cache when the site was refreshed w/o notice, plus the older stuff from Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine .



I'm still trying to fathom out the steep drops in the tourneys & 1st Dwarven, but some of the older estimated values are rather interesting too.

  

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 6:53 pm 
 

Deadlord36 wrote:I think any way you look at it, incomplete is just that, not Fine+, not Fair. Incomplete.


I hear you, and believe me, if I had my way, anything missing parts would grade Poor at best, because Poor is the only grade that allows for incompleteness.  Fair allows for a missing dustjacket, but everything else is there.  However those of the valuation board do have a point in that low grades are not trending at 10% of Very Fine as I note in that grading scale.  What they should do is find the average of every single item in a specific grade (recommended is Very Good as it falls in the middle of the grading scale), average those values, and determine values for the other six grades from that value.



However, there is a flaw in your thinking regarding woodgrain box sets, and this is another thing that will give people heart attacks.  Age should not play a factor in the grading of a book.



If we start to apply exceptions and caveats due to age, the entire grading system will be thrown off kilter.  If I were to go into an antique book store right now with my 1st print copy from 1846 of "Pictures of Travels in the South of France", do you believe the book dealer would make an allowance for me because the book is over 150 years old with the spine and bristol board both gone?  On the contrary.  He's going to grade it with the same standards as he grades any other book, and with the spine and bristol board gone, it's not going to grade high (reminds self to take that book to be rebound).



If the valuation board is to grade books, they need to do so without allowances for age or rarity of a specific book or set.  Otherwise, the values will be biased, and useless.



  


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 7:12 pm 
 

Traveller wrote:If the valuation board is to grade books, they need to do so without allowances for age or rarity of a specific book or set. Otherwise, the values will be biased, and useless.


*nods*. Which is why the prices need to be transferred into the correct grades, or some vague attempt at that, if the whole system is going to be overly grade-driven (eight bands with a heavy bulge in between VG & VF, inclusive, seems that way to me).

$2,200+ for a Mint 1st print woodgrain by the new scale would be interesting to see...



Any attempt to leave the numbers/prices "as they are" probably cannot work for quite a few older items in the longer run without grade fudging.



And for such items the scale might as well leave a blank in the NM/M price columns and leave the buyer to work those out for themselves.



(Is there a lack of older items in the higher grades on for that reason, especially on comic-book grading scales?

Aside, I'd say that stb-NM X1 doesn't actually make the written grade, either; confuses me if it does...).



Traveller wrote:If we start to apply exceptions and caveats due to age, the entire grading system will be thrown off kilter. If I were to go into an antique book store right now with my 1st print copy from 1846 of "Pictures of Travels in the South of France", do you believe the book dealer would make an allowance for me because the book is over 150 years old with the spine and bristol board both gone? On the contrary. He's going to grade it with the same standards as he grades any other book, and with the spine and bristol board gone, it's not going to grade high (reminds self to take that book to be rebound).


That would be the hope, although the temptation to play the "for the age" game is pretty strong...



(Throws up some interesting anomolies, too; for example, older paper (say, 17th century) ages better than new, yet leather bindings will have dried and likely cracked. Kinda like the problems we've got with grading boxed sets; excellent contents with poor containers).

  

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 8:01 pm 
 

An incorrect grading scale in my opinion, plus the tendency to "play the age game", plus the individual desires of the members of the valuation board all raise red flags in my mind. If grading is to happen, it needs to be impartial, and I think part of the problem that has some objecting is this: the members of the valuation board are not being impartial in their grading. Some of them are resellers themselves while others are collectors. All of them though have a vested interest to maintain the highest prices possible. For the resellers, to maximize their profit. For the collectors, to say "my book is valued at X" and to maximize their profit if they sell.



If you look at any pricing guide out there, whether it is coins, books, baseball cards, whatever, you find that the publishers of those magazines do not buy or sell whatever it is they are pricing in their price guides. They certainly do offer advertisements from people that do in fact buy or sell, but they don't do it themselves. It's this issue of possible price manipulation, more than the grading scale or even how to grade, that is going to cause the valuation board the most headaches. Because no matter what the valuation board does in that regard, there is always going to be someone out there who is not going to trust the values that they generate, because some of them are themselves involved in buying and selling.



It's this issue of possible price manipulation, more than the grading scale or even how to grade, that is going to cause the valuation board the most headaches. Because no matter what the valuation board does in that regard, there is always going to be someone out there who is not going to trust the values that they generate, because some of them are themselves involved in buying and selling.



I'm reminded of an incident from the Antiques Roadshow program that was reported on in the news. It seems that one of the antiques dealers on the program was secretly getting people to bring the items from his shop onto the show. He would look at them and determine the price range, hoping that someone would fork over the amount of money he quoted on the show.



What that gentleman did was to manipulate the prices of his items to maximize his profit. It bothers me that the same thing may happen here.



  


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 8:16 pm 
 

Traveller wrote:
harami2000 wrote:That would be the hope, although the temptation to play the "for the age" game is pretty strong...




An incorrect grading scale in my opinion, plus the tendency to "play the age game", plus the individual desires of the members of the valuation board all raise red flags in my mind. If grading is to happen, it needs to be impartial, and I think part of the problem that has some objecting is this: the members of the valuation board are not being impartial in their grading. Some of them are resellers themselves while others are collectors. All of them though have a vested interest to maintain the highest prices possible. For the resellers, to maximize their profit. For the collectors, to say "my book is valued at X" and to maximize their profit if they sell.



If you look at any pricing guide out there, whether it is coins, books, baseball cards, whatever, you find that the publishers of those magazines do not buy or sell whatever it is they are pricing in their price guides. They certainly do offer advertisements from people that do in fact buy or sell, but they don't do it themselves. It's this issue of possible price manipulation, more than the grading scale or even how to grade, that is going to cause the valuation board the most headaches. Because no matter what the valuation board does in that regard, there is always going to be someone out there who is not going to trust the values that they generate, because some of them are themselves involved in buying and selling.



I'm reminded of an incident from the Antiques Roadshow program that was reported on in the news. It seems that one of the antiques dealers on the program was secretly getting people to bring the items from his shop onto the show. He would look at them and determine the price range, hoping that someone would fork over the amount of money he quoted on the show.



What that gentleman did was to manipulate the prices of his items to maximize his profit. It bothers me that the same thing may happen here.




I agree 100%, but I think at this point the problems with the valuations may not be that sinister (its not like the infamous fuzzball is part of the valuation board). I do think it is an excellent point about playing the "age game" though. It is actually a trap that I find myself falling into as well. I find myself, instead of saying this book is X condition, I find myself saying that this book is in X condition for its age. I think part of the problem is just a simple "back of your mind" compensation that you make without realizing that you are doing it. In the end, I think by not playing the "age game", that if we get items to proper scale, that it really won't affect the total value of the listed item. To give an example, based on the grading system as it stands a 1st print woody that was listed as NM was purchased at a cost of $2,200.00. I don't think that same 1st print woody automaticaly looses value because we adjust the grading scale so that it fits more properly with the correct scale (i.e downgrading it to Fine for instance), because it still is the same 1st print woody that everyone saw and bid on to the final winning total of $2,200.00. The only thing adjusting the grading scale might do is increase the possible value of another different 1st print woody that is even better condition. Just my .02


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:08 pm 
 

Which is why when they do valuation, they should pick the median grade (in the case of the book grading system, Very Good), average out all examples in that grade, thend determine the other price points based on that.



Now, using harami's chart for Very Good, which as he notes, was pulled from Google's cache of this site, a 1st print Woodgrain is valued at $1000.  As that is the baseline, what are the values of all the other conditions?



Poor = $200

Fair = $400

Good = $700

Very Good = $1000

Near Fine = $1300

Fine = $1600

Very Fine = $2000



To me, there's no way to maintain the 1st print Woodgrain's value of $2200 without fudging the numbers.  That woodgrain isn't mint, which would be 100% of value, so what grade is it actually?  What is Near Mint?  In reality, it's the same thing as Fine in this scale, so in (my version of) reality, that NM Woodgrain is valued at only $1600 instead of the $2200 it used to be at.



Them's just the facts man.



  

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:13 pm 
 

traveller wrote:An incorrect grading scale in my opinion, plus the tendency to "play the age game", plus the individual desires of the members of the valuation board all raise red flags in my mind. If grading is to happen, it needs to be impartial, and I think part of the problem that has some objecting is this: the members of the valuation board are not being impartial in their grading. Some of them are resellers themselves while others are collectors. All of them though have a vested interest to maintain the highest prices possible. For the resellers, to maximize their profit. For the collectors, to say "my book is valued at X" and to maximize their profit if they sell.


Just a quick reply to this.

We've discussed this issue ad-nauseum, both on the forums here as well as on the site proper.  You could also make a convincing argument that the resellers/collectors in question want to keep values down, so they can obtain items at a reduced price for their own collections, or to sell at an inflated value later.

traveller wrote:If you look at any pricing guide out there, whether it is coins, books, baseball cards, whatever, you find that the publishers of those magazines do not buy or sell whatever it is they are pricing in their price guides.


First of all, I seriously doubt that claim.  They don't buy and sell publicly, perhaps, but these are all people who are heavily invested (psychologically, at the very least) in a hobby, and I guarantee they've got collections at home.

The difference between the comic/baseball card industry and our own is that those industries are large enough to actually employ people in the price guide business, and (theoretically, at least) require those individuals to not participate in buying/selling items themselves.  The RPG hobby isn't anywhere near that stage yet, and it's doubtful we could find anyone who would be willing to be an impartial collector/assigner of values.  Especially on a volunteer basis.

The best we can do, IMHO, is to have a fairly large number of people on the Valuation Board, all of whom have oversight on the process.  While you could claim that the entire Board is being collusive, and manipulating prices... let's have a little faith in humanity.  The few bad apples out there will be spotted and removed.  I honestly believe that we're developing the best system that we can, and minimizing the potential criticisms.  But as stated above, there's no way we can ensure a completely independent, impartial process.

traveller wrote:It's this issue of possible price manipulation, more than the grading scale or even how to grade, that is going to cause the valuation board the most headaches. Because no matter what the valuation board does in that regard, there is always going to be someone out there who is not going to trust the values that they generate, because some of them are themselves involved in buying and selling.


Well, once we have A) made the process as transparent as possible, and B) identified to everyone the potential pitfalls in this system, I'll direct you back to one of The Acaeum mantras: Use the values on this site as a guide only.  It is my opinion that offering values on items provides more useful information for collectors.  I realize that not everyone will agree with those values, in part or in whole.  Therefore, you're free to continue to post your opinions and criticisms, and we'll do our best to consider them for future improvements.

However, if the crux of your argument is "I think there's price manipulation going on here" (and when I say "your", I mean it as a collective "you", the reader), then I suggest you stop visiting.  There's obviously nothing that I, or anyone else, can say that will change your opinion.

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:16 pm 
 

Traveller wrote:Them's just the facts man.




Aside; spike-bidding is difficult to allow for, especially in "one off" auctions.

Taking only the final price, without noting how "strong" it is, may also be problematic when setting "marks"; especially high ones.



In the case above, the very last snipe (4 seconds before close) increased the price from $1,800 to $2,280; and the bid before that was only $1,280, although the $1,800 bid may have "covered" one or two other snipes in the last few seconds.

*

One of those bidders hasn't bid on anything for the last six months and the other seems to be an eclectic collector.

Yet, at the end of the day, it's only "final price" that counts, no?



There are certainly more people with $100 in their pockets, than $250, or $1,000.

(Although the way the OCEs are going, I'm not sure, some days ;))

  

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:19 pm 
 

Traveller wrote:To me, there's no way to maintain the 1st print Woodgrain's value of $2200 without fudging the numbers.


"Fudging the numbers" is why we have a Valuation Board in the first place.  If you simply used straight math, you'd have a much worse situation: obviously, the value "curve" on a B2 Keep on the Borderlands is going to be vastly different from that on a woodgrain set.  The Board applies the math, yes (and the formulas are certainly still "beta", a fact which I posted on last month and which most people are continuing to ignore), and then applies common sense and judgement to determine the final values.



Again, if it were as simple as applying a formula to a baseline average, we wouldn't need to go through everything we have been.  And your Mint B2 would be worth $15, and Mint woodgrain $1600.  Both of which are hopelessly erroneous.



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