Evaluating Ephemera

evaluating ephemera

I will hereby reproduce an article that was published in the quarterly publication of the Ephemera Society,it apeared in the december 1995 number 91:COMMENT What's it worthAs everyone knows, most ephemera is really worth nothing at all. The phrase we use to describe these items itself gives the game away :'the minor transiens documents of everyday life'Everything from a train ticket to a mariage certificate-some, admittedlymore everyday than others. But on the hole, value is reflected in the mind of the observer rather than at the bank. In any case valuing these items is based on an inexact science. We may argue indefinitely in terms of currency, but there is little to go by: one man's ephemera isanother man's rubbish. It takes the individual to see the difference.It also takes a specialized eye to distinguish between the collector and the dealer. Some collectors are also dealers and vice-versa: sometimes they can't quite decide themselves. Both parties buildinto their evaluations the exertions of their work of search and rescue,on the one hand in quarrying the material from its original contextand on the other han, on the collector's side in requarrying it-bringing it back into the general melee. Both parties pride themselves on an invisible ingredient-expertise. It seems therefore only right and proper that their enterprise and exertion may be rewarded.Values emerge not by arbitrary nomination, but by the classicinterplay of the forces of supply and demand-well known elementsin the market mix. Any attempt at formalized price structure (price guides and similar approaches) must fail. We must take into account that scarcity value, a basic component in most market fields, is hereof only doubtful relevance. Printed ephemera, by definition theproduct of a mass process, offers few if any identifiable unique items. Each specimen must stand or fall by valuation the individualplaces on it. Today's catalogue item may be available tomorrow at less than half the price. Or more than twice the price.Since its inception the ephemera market has been throwing up valuesas well-defined and widely recognised as the price of fruit and vegetables, and ephemera bazars are attended as much by dealers as by collectors; accepted by the collector and curator as a necessary evil.Ephemera prices bounce up and down as time goes by.The dispassionate bystander will say that we have only ourselves toblame for an upward trend, having brought the material into the market arena. The dealer responds by accepting plaudits, rescuingunconsidered trifles from obscurity and possible destruction..........here some more comments concerning cards from sets :- Interpreting a catalogue-value as a worth for a set, is complicated- Because : in each set there always is a difficult card (sometimes morethan one) and that card is worth half the price of the set... and therefore one common card is only worth 1/10 to 1/50 or even less than the price of the set divided by the total number of cardssince the one card - Furthermore never cards are "mint" and that is what the catalogue says :the price is for cards in a condition "as new"- Even furthermore : a lot of reprints, 2nd and 3rd editions, variations, other backs, similar editions existSo my experience says : if want to sell a collection .... don't put your energy in cataloguing. Because finding a buyer at catalogue price is even more frustating as finding the right catalaogue. As catalogues are very expensive (20 to 50 dollars), there is not a garantee that you will succeed in even getting those expenses back.There are catalogues on all subjects, too many, in the specialised bookstore, so you will have to make inquiries in your neighbourhood. You can post the lot to us, and we will evaluate and contact you again by e-mail to discuss a price to sell, or, we make an appropriateevaluation report and send everything back to you. Expenses can be paid with some of the items, in which I am interested. All in your best interest, and by the direct communication, the Internet provides. We decide by e-mail wat is the best way to serve you. Since everybody has to be happy in such deals, We can offer our reputation as a dealer, and mine as a collector for 25 years;working with more than 2000 happy collectors. You can reach me by e-mail at: Albert.Van.den.Bosch@skynet.be