PDFs vs originals and their impact on collecting...
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Post Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:32 pm 
 

I can see everyone's point on all aspects of PDFs.

I personally place no monetary value on them - I just don't want to ruin something I've paid a premium price for (I'm kinda rough on stuff), so I like to have a backup on hand.


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 11:43 pm 
 

The availability of PDF OB3s means that the holders of shrinkwrap OB3s do not need to open the shrink to see what all the fuss is about.  They can simply view the PDF to see the "objectionable" art, therefore the PDF prevents shrinkwrap OB3s from being opened.  Also PDFs can decrease the value of the rares as collectibles since they ruin the mystique of rarity.  If the only way to see what was in an OB3 was to own a physical copy then a lot of people would be really curious to see what the fuss was about, and that would potentially drive prices higher, if only by increasing the mystique of its forbidden nature.  Since anyone can freely view an OB3's contents then OB3s lose their mystique value, and hence their value as a collectible will be affected.  

In other words, the reason these items are worth so much is because they are very, very rare.  If you enable the masses to obtain cheaply any of these rares, even in a non-ideal format such as a PDF, then the originals will potentially decrease in value... especially for rares whose physicality wasn't too special besides being flimsy sheets of paper anyway (Tsojconth, Fazzlewood, Tamoachan, etc.).  The reason why woodgrain boxes retain their value even though the book contents can be had much cheaper in a white box, is precisely because that woodgrain box cannot be put in a satisfactory PDF format.  A PDF box just isn't the same... ditto for PotVQ's black folder.

  

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Post Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:16 am 
 

dathon wrote:
In other words, the reason these items are worth so much is because they are very, very rare. If you enable the masses to obtain cheaply any of these rares, even in a non-ideal format such as a PDF, then the originals will potentially decrease in value... especially for rares whose physicality wasn't too special besides being flimsy sheets of paper anyway (Tsojconth, Fazzlewood, Tamoachan, etc.). The reason why woodgrain boxes retain their value even though the book contents can be had much cheaper in a white box, is precisely because that woodgrain box cannot be put in a satisfactory PDF format. A PDF box just isn't the same... ditto for PotVQ's black folder.


    This makes sense, that's why Amazing Spiderman #1 is virtually worthess, as all the reprints that have been made have gotten the story to the masses so much no one really wants the original (Those damn Marvel Masterpiece editions!!!)  :)
    Obviously, this isn't always true.  Sometimes people will buy the original JUST for the collectible value, who cares about the actual content.  People weren't paying hundreds of dollars to READ Orange B3s, they were paying hundreds of dollars because the item was an instant collectible, the bulk of them pulped within days of being printed. People aren't paying premium prices to buy, say, RPGA1 (last two sales were $810 and $500, I think) and actually read or play it.  They are paying that much because it's a collectible due to low print runs.  
   Does anyone really believe the value or price of an Orange B3 has gone DOWN since the PDF was released?  I think it's pretty obvious the prices being paid now are blowing the pre-1998 prices out of the water.
   Your first statement is true....the reason these items are worth a lot is that they are very, very rare. Unfortunately you should have stopped there. True collectibles, whether they are Amazing Spiderman #1 or an Orange B3, will retain their value if reprinted in a non ideal format. Look at it this way, the Marvel Masterpiece Edition of Spiderman #1-#20 actually looks BETTER than the orignal due to the paper used and color process, and it hasn't affected the price of the original one bit.  The pdf of an Orange B3 isn't even that great quality, and I haven't seen any evidence yet it's hurt the prices.  I would be intrigued to see evidence that people are willing to spend less on a SW Orange B3 now than what they sold for 10 years ago merely because of the presence of the pdf.
    Reproductions very rarely hurt the value of true collectible items.  There is always that segment of the collectors that wants the original no matter what, and this is the sort of person who overpays for collectibles anyway. Let's face it, someone mildly curious of the "banned" artwork in an Orange B3 wasn't going to drop $1000 just to satisfy his curiousity.  However, collectors have always recognized it's value.  Ditto on stuff like Fazzlewood.....you mean to tell me a rabid collector isn't going to bid $2000 on a SW Fazzlewood because suddenly there's a pdf out there?   It wouldn't affect the final price at all. The person buying a New XMen #94 isn't buying it to read it, he's already read it numerous times in reprints, he wants it because he wants IT!, not the reprint.

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Post Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:25 am 
 

dathon wrote:The availability of PDF OB3s means that the holders of shrinkwrap OB3s do not need to open the shrink to see what all the fuss is about. They can simply view the PDF to see the "objectionable" art, therefore the PDF prevents shrinkwrap OB3s from being opened. Also PDFs can decrease the value of the rares as collectibles since they ruin the mystique of rarity. If the only way to see what was in an OB3 was to own a physical copy then a lot of people would be really curious to see what the fuss was about, and that would potentially drive prices higher, if only by increasing the mystique of its forbidden nature. Since anyone can freely view an OB3's contents then OB3s lose their mystique value, and hence their value as a collectible will be affected.

In other words, the reason these items are worth so much is because they are very, very rare. If you enable the masses to obtain cheaply any of these rares, even in a non-ideal format such as a PDF, then the originals will potentially decrease in value... especially for rares whose physicality wasn't too special besides being flimsy sheets of paper anyway (Tsojconth, Fazzlewood, Tamoachan, etc.). The reason why woodgrain boxes retain their value even though the book contents can be had much cheaper in a white box, is precisely because that woodgrain box cannot be put in a satisfactory PDF format. A PDF box just isn't the same... ditto for PotVQ's black folder.


FWIW, I agree with William 100%. I have said this before but to reiterate, if there is one person out there, just 1, that decides not to buy an item becuase it freely available on pdf, then the item in question has lost value. You can debate how little of difference that 1 person might make, but the fact is that the value of the item is less than it would be if that peson was out there bidding on that same item trying to buy it.. OB3 may not have decreased in price since it was freely available on pdf, but the problem is that we never know how much more it could have increased if it was not now freely available.  You cant just look at it from a  hardcore collectors persepctive.  You also have to look at it from the perspective of the not so hardcore collector with lots of cash to spend, that might have enough curiosity about a particualar item to take a shot at it.  If you eliminate the curiosity factor, you also eliminate these types of potential bidders.  The more potential bidders there are, the better the chance that some one who is not a quote/unquote hardcore collector, thus potentially raising the bid the next time around.


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Post Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:27 am 
 

Another interesting point....I was able to obtain a pdf of The Jade Hare many years before it was commercially available.  Someone I dealt with on the old frp.marketplace boards had scanned it into his computer, and would email it to anyone who was interested. I still have his copy, as a matter of fact.
  Isn't it really only a matter of time before someone finally scans in one of the real rares and starts distributing it?  Should be some interesting shockwaves in the RPG collecting world when, say, a tournament Ghost Tower or Dwarven Glory starts making the rounds via email.....

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Post Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:46 am 
 

bclarkie wrote:FWIW, I agree with William 100%. I have said this before but to reiterate, if there is one person out there, just 1, that decides not to buy an item becuase it freely available on pdf, then the item in question has lost value. You can debate how little of difference that 1 person might make, but the fact is that the value of the item is less than it would be if that peson was out there bidding on that same item trying to buy it.. OB3 may not have decreased in price since it was freely available on pdf, but the problem is that we never know how much more it could have increased if it was not now freely available.


    But you are now arguing speculative worth vs real worth. I can point to real numbers that show the prices of Orange B3s have not gone down; the other side can only  rely on "What Ifs?".  I mean, if Marvel comics had never reprinted Amazing Spiderman #1 in any form ever, it MIGHT be worth a million dollars, but we'll never know.  However, we can point to the fact that the comic book Amazing Spiderman #1 has risen in value every year for the last 30 or so years to show the many copies made doesn't seem to have hurt the original's value very much.  
 Besides, in opposition to your mythical make believe person that won't bid on an Orange B3 because he now has the pdf, I"M going to put forth a mythical make believe person who bids on an Orange B3 PRECISELY because the pdf was released.  You see, my hypothetical person either had never heard of an Orange B3 and it's place in D&D lore and history, or didn't really know much about it, until the pdf was released. Now, armed with this info, he's fired up to own the REAL copy and not some pdf.  Of course, we could get into a discussion about which of our hypothetical humans is more likely to exist, but then we get too existential and I start nodding out.  Both hypothetical guys are just that.  The facts are the REAL item is still rising in value as we speak.
   It's very, very unrealistic to expect items made out of paper in a world where copiers and scanners are freely available won't at some point become duplicated.  You have to factor this into the relative worth of the item BASED ON THIS FACT. Dathon did make one good point, this is why a woodgrain will ALWAYS retain value, it can't be duplicated.  The second an Orange B3 was printed, at some point down the line (it took what, 15 years only?) someone was going to make copies available commercially or otherwise.  I've spoken of this on other boards, as a gentle warning: due to the crappy printing values, I would NOT be surprised if in the next few years well made counterfeits of certain items begin to pop up.  The intelligent collector who collects for INVESTMENT purposes might well bear this in mind.  Woodgrains, hardcover rulebooks, other hard to duplicate rarities might be a better avenue for such a collector.  
  Besides, Bryan, I saw your hypothetical person who wanted to buy a copy of an Orange B3 until the pdf came out, but he got hit by an SVU on the way to the bank so he doesn't matter anymore...unfortunately my hypothetical person invested heavily in Enron, so he's screwed also  :twisted:

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Post Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:55 am 
 

Your point about what ifs is well taken in regards to the mythical person who might now want an original copy of OB3 because of the pdf. However, that being said, I have seen a lot more evidence of people in my experience that are now less likely to bid on/buy an item becuase they have the pdf, then the otehr way around. One only needs to visit www.dragonsfoot.org to see what I mean.  I have been browsing that forum for about a month now, and I can tell you thatI have seen at least 30 different people there to make reference to the fact that they would just assume have a pdf than a original.   Don't get me wrong that site is actually very cool, but it is without a doubt a gamers site. Most of the folks over there are much more interested in getting the material as cheply as possible and they could care less as to what format that it comes in.  I have yet to see someone who says that because of the pdf that they have, they are now on the lookout for the original.   Now if those 30 different people might have bought a used module out of your store instead of going to rpgnow, that to me is hurting the value of the original items. :)  Just my $.02.


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Post Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 1:26 am 
 

There's a reason why Rolex, Coach, Polo, etc. go after those who make the cheap knockoffs; some of the people who buy them would have bought the original if they had no other choice.  In addition, the knockoffs devalue the brand mystique if people can buy good knockoff Rolexes for $50 rather than the real thing for $5,000.  

As bclarkie alluded to, just because the price of OB3s has gone up since 1998 does not mean it would have gone up even further if there were no PDFs available.  The mystique of the rares is diminished when there are PDFs, hence they will fetch less money.  

For example, if I had known a PDF were available for ST1 I would not have bought one for $1,200.  I have photocopies of couple of the ultra rares, therefore I will never spend the money they go for now since they lack the mystique of my never having seen them.  I doubt I am alone in this regard.

  

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Post Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 1:51 am 
 

bclarkie wrote:Your point about what ifs is well taken in regards to the mythical person who might now want an original copy of OB3 because of the pdf. However, that being said, I have seen a lot more evidence of people in my experience that are now less likely to bid on/buy an item becuase they have the pdf, then the otehr way around. One only needs to visit www.dragonsfoot.org to see what I mean. I have been browsing that forum for about a month now, and I can tell you thatI have seen at least 30 different people there to make reference to the fact that they would just assume have a pdf than a original.  Don't get me wrong that site is actually very cool, but it is without a doubt a gamers site. Most of the folks over there are much more interested in getting the material as cheply as possible and they could care less as to what format that it comes in. I have yet to see someone who says that because of the pdf that they have, they are now on the lookout for the original.  Now if those 30 different people might have bought a used module out of your store instead of going to rpgnow, that to me is hurting the value of the original items. :) Just my $.02.


Good points. But think about it, none of those guys who want a orange b3 as cheaply as possible were ever going to bid on one anyway.  Their curiousity would have taken a backseat to their cheapness. Look at Dathon, he said he spent $1200 just to take a look at a ST1. Dathon is a true collector though. Would one of those cheapos ever bid $100, much less $1200, to check out an ST1?  Not likely.  Collectors that always have to have just that certain item are always out there...don't confuse them with the cheapskate dabbler who will think he's busting his entire nut bidding $101 for a RPGA1.  You have to remember we here on the Acaeum are the cream of the crop collector wise, you can't compare us to any of the casual lookie loos elsewhere.  :D
  I remember back in the day there was a very lively underground of photocopied modules.  I actually remember attending gaming conventions into the 80's where people SOLD photocopied 1st edition modules.  I  always thought that was dumb though since IMO they were easy to come by, who would want a crappy copy over the real thing.  The dumbest thing I ever saw was a guy that photocopied his entire Dragon mag each month so he could bringthe articles to games without damaging the mags. It must have cost him like 5 bucks to copy the mag every month. These are the same mags that now 20 years later sell for a whopping 5-6 bucks each brand new 8O  Oh well, who could know.

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Post Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 2:19 am 
 

dathon wrote:For example, if I had known a PDF were available for ST1 I would not have bought one for $1,200. I have photocopies of couple of the ultra rares, therefore I will never spend the money they go for now since they lack the mystique of my never having seen them. I doubt I am alone in this regard.


i see where youa re going with that point, but in the same vein, i had a photocopy of PotVQ, cos i wanted to see what it was like. when i read it, i just had to have one, so i bought one, at whatever the price was (cant remember).....ok it was quite in the vein of your ST1, but STILL, a lot of money.

in the end, an item only has worth IF someone is willing to buy it. you can SAY it has true collector value, but if nobody is willing to shell out cash for it, it doesnt matter diddly what its value is.

if i was sat on a fortune, i would buy every ultra rare there is, cos i want them. if the PDF is available for them, who cares. you cant substitute the real thing.most ppl who want a PDF, its because they cant afford the item, or dont want to pay its massive price. i only say this with regards to the ultra rare items. i have some PDF's. but its never stopped me wanting the real thing.

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Post Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 2:27 am 
 

dathon wrote:There's a reason why Rolex, Coach, Polo, etc. go after those who make the cheap knockoffs; some of the people who buy them would have bought the original if they had no other choice.

Well, most of the people who buy these sorts of knock-offs are either cheap, total wannabees, looking to impress someone, or the sort of person who is always out to "beat the system" (or some combination of all four). This sort of person is not in the market for a $5,000 watch, and never will be. Given the "choice" of spending $5,000 on a watch or spending $0 and not getting a watch, this person will always choose the second option.

dathon wrote:As bclarkie alluded to, just because the price of OB3s has gone up since 1998 does not mean it would have gone up even further if there were no PDFs available

We're back to pure speculation here. This argument is impossible to prove one way or the other.

+++++

If we look at actual evidence, it seems pretty clear that the PDF revolution has had very little effect on sales of D&D collectibles. The orange B3 is the absolute perfect example: despite having been a FREE :!: download for a period of years, sales of the actual, physical module tend to be very strong. How can this be so? Well, to steal a line from Porsche: "there is no substitute." By which I mean that for many, many collectors out there, there is no substitute for owning the actual item.

And this goes way beyond the rares, too. Boxed sets, super-modules, accessory items (Rogues Gallery, for example), hardcover rulebooks, ODD booklets: all of these are available either for free or for $4.99 or less at various download sites. Yet sales of physical items remain strong across all categories — just ask anyone who tracks eBay data or uses data-mining software.

Now, I'm not totally naive: I do believe that, from the time legitimate PDFs became easy to find and download, some D&D sales have probably been either lost or diminished (again, though, I'd like to see some evidence of this). However, I have a question for anyone who thinks the PDF factor has had a major impact on sales of D&D collectibles: if pure speculation and "hypothetical people" don't count, where is your evidence?

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Post Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 3:46 am 
 

^^^ Pressed "submit" moments before the forums went off-line, apparently. ^^^

Definitely wasn't going to type all that again ... :)

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Post Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 3:58 am 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:
dathon wrote:There's a reason why Rolex, Coach, Polo, etc. go after those who make the cheap knockoffs; some of the people who buy them would have bought the original if they had no other choice.

Strongly disagree — the people who buy these sorts of knock-offs are either cheap, total wannabees, looking to impress someone, or the sort of person who is always out to "beat the system" (or some combination of all four). This sort of person is not in the market for a $5,000 watch, and never will be. Given the "choice" of spending $5,000 on a watch or spending $0 and not getting a watch, this person will always choose the second option.

dathon wrote:As bclarkie alluded to, just because the price of OB3s has gone up since 1998 does not mean it would have gone up even further if there were no PDFs available

We're back to pure speculation here. This argument is impossible to prove one way or the other.

+++++

If we look at actual evidence, it seems pretty clear that the PDF revolution has had very little effect on sales of D&D collectibles. The orange B3 is the absolute perfect example: despite having been a FREE :!: download for a period of years, sales of the actual, physical module tend to be very strong. How can this be so? Well, to steal a line from Porsche: "there is no substitute." By which I mean that for many, many collectors out there, there is no substitute for owning the actual item.

And this goes way beyound the rares, too. Boxed sets, super-modules, accessory items (Rogues Gallery, for example), hardcover rulebooks, ODD booklets: all of these are available either for free or for $4.99 or less at various download sites. Yet sales of physical items remain strong across all categories — just ask anyone who tracks eBay data or uses data-mining software.

Now, I'm not totally naive: I do believe that, over time, some D&D sales have probably been either lost or diminished by the PDF phenomenon (again, though, I'd like to see some evidence of this). However, I have a question for anyone who thinks the PDF factor has had a major impact on sales of D&D collectibles: if pure speculation and "hypothetical people" don't count, where is your evidence?


    I agree with everything you wrote, good post, sometimes I know what I want to say but someone else says it for me, bravo.  :D
    I will give the opposition one bone.  I think the emergence of Pdfs MAY have driven down the price of common modules...stuff like the A-series, S Series, etc.  I know the prices have gone way down in recent years.  However, this could possibly be attributed to the amount of people auctioning the commons on Ebay and no other reason.  These aren't exactly the type of modules anyone saves up for to buy, and there are quite a few of them out there.
    I just don't see the pdf market hurting the collectible market, maybe the commons, but not the rares.

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Post Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:29 am 
 

Not to be difficult, but the question wasn't: "Have pdfs have hurt the rares market?", the question was: "Have pdfs hurt the market at all?". Based on everyone's posts at this point I think everyone agrees that the market has been affected negatively at least somewhat. The question of how much and for which particular items it has affected, we will never know the truth for sure because of the fact that there is really no way to tell for anyone to be sure one way or another.


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Post Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 8:02 am 
 

One other thing about the pdfs and their effect on prices. In regards to the rares there really isnt a whole lot of them out there on pdf, the only exceptions being OB3, the Rs and the RPGAs.  Nothing else is available out there.  It seems that most rares though, particularly over the last year or so have seen a increase in pricing, although looking at OB3 thinking back pretty hard over the last several years, the price actually has remain pretty stagnant. Now, I am not saying this is for sure a direct result of it being readily available on pdf, but you cant rules this out as a cuase.


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Post Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 8:58 am 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:However, I have a question for anyone who thinks the PDF factor has had a major impact on sales of D&D collectibles: if pure speculation and "hypothetical people" don't count, where is your evidence?

My evidence will be presented in approximately 20 more years. PDF formats haven't been widely used enough to have a profound impact, yet. Relative to the age of D&D collecting, they're a new thing.

OB3 is a very poor example, as it was essentially a recall. It was going to be rare no matter what happened, but I maintain that it would be even less common without PDFs.

Let's try this on something less extreme and see what happens. Imagine that GDQ1-7 were released as a PDF. [edit] (At the time it was originally printed, I mean.) [/edit] It probably is, somewhere, but again, that occured decades after it was printed, so it doesn't count -- yet. Its roughly as playable as a the huge awkward book, and players are cheap, anyway.

So nobody buys, plays, or destroys copies. Would they sell on eBay today for the kind of money they do? No way. Even in mint/SW condition, they still couldn't compete with the still available PDF, and you can't get more minty than that. It would simply cease to be a collectible.

Ok, I cheated. GDQ1-7 isn't "rare". But it illustrates a process that affects rares. It affects B2, for that matter, but nobody cares.

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Post Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 10:42 am 
 

Some of you know I am a champion of PDFs, and it is no secret that I manufacture them. I also spend a fair amount of money on buying stuff on eBay. I am fairly qualified to talk on the subject.

1. I agree that PDF files have an impact on the RPG collectables market. They reduce the price of a collectable, and that price reduction is directly related to both the quality, and availability of the PDF. (a high quality PDF copy of Goodman Games' Haunted Lighthouse made freely available would descimate the value of the module).

2. There is a responsibility within the collectable community (all be it one we share to differing degreed) to maintain the things we collect, share knowledge, and safeguard the 'rares' and 'uncommons' from disappearing into history. That is why Acaeum maintains its database, why Scott is always seeking to expand the site, and why a lot of us research what we find (even if we do it in secret). PDFs protect documents from slipping into history (or even into secret vaulted collections), and keep the knowledge in available to more people. I archive to PDF and maintain a PDF database for this reason.

3. The responsibility lies with those who hold PDF files, to be careful about who, how and when you share them. The ST1.pdf has been available for some 5 years now, but it is next to impossible to get, because those who possess it, are careful about how and when they share it. If a high quality PDF file became freely downloadable, the value of the ST1 module could not avoid being damaged by it.

PDFs are here to stay. We have to hope that those who have them are considerate about their propegation.


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Post Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:00 am 
 

OB3 could be a good example of a PDF hurting its value.  While other rares such as Tamoachan, Inverness and Tsojconth (which has been offered more frequently than OB3) continue to climb in value with each passing auction, OB3 is stuck at around $800.  
Dragon magazines are a good example of PDFs (the Dragon CD-ROM archive) decimating the vintage market.  Dragon #1 has decreased in value since I began collecting in earnest in the mid-90s, when it should be considered a second tier holy grail item IMO.

  

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Post Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:22 am 
 

dathon wrote:OB3 could be a good example of a PDF hurting its value. While other rares such as Tamoachan, Inverness and Tsojconth (which has been offered more frequently than OB3) continue to climb in value with each passing auction, OB3 is stuck at around $800.
Dragon magazines are a good example of PDFs (the Dragon CD-ROM archive) decimating the vintage market. Dragon #1 has decreased in value since I began collecting in earnest in the mid-90s, when it should be considered a second tier holy grail item IMO.


    A lot of that is stupidity also though.  I saw what you saw, the worth of the Dragon magazine decline when the CD rom came out.  I bought as many early issues as I could (one memorable buy had me getting Dragons #1-#250 for $250).  The last two Dragon #1's I sold went for private sales in the $250 range.  Whether or not something is available on pdf, if it is a true item of significance in it's field (as Dragon #1 is) it should always retain it's wealth.  I used this to my advantage when buying Dragon magazine collections back in the day ("you know Dragon mags are all on cd rom now, so they are not worth as much").  
    I have always been suspicious of the supposed "surviving copies"  numbers of an Orange B3 in regards the other collectibles anyway, stories keep circulating of guys sitting on cases or at least multiple copies of these.  I would also gauge this rumor as affecting the worth of the OB3, collectors in the know have heard this rumors also and factor this in to their bidding.  There exists solid numbers of the other rares you mentioned whereas only speculation exists for copies of OB3.

Mike B.

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Post Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:45 am 
 

dathon wrote:OB3 could be a good example of a PDF hurting its value. While other rares such as Tamoachan, Inverness and Tsojconth (which has been offered more frequently than OB3) continue to climb in value with each passing auction, OB3 is stuck at around $800.
Dragon magazines are a good example of PDFs (the Dragon CD-ROM archive) decimating the vintage market. Dragon #1 has decreased in value since I began collecting in earnest in the mid-90s, when it should be considered a second tier holy grail item IMO.

The OB3 price ceiling is probably more due to the green B3 being available for $3. If there was an ST1 available with a blue cover and some different pictures, and we all had them, and you could buy them on eBay for $3, do you think a red ST1 would fetch $2000 on eBay?


This week I've been mostly eating . . . chicken and wild rice soup.

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