Last September and October I wrote a series of six posts concerning ‘The Art of Collecting’. Part of the underlying philosophy of expectation, including more basic categories such as coins and stamps, is predicated on there being an available marketplace should one decide to be a seller rather than being more static.
As I was reminded yesterday, the expression ‘easier said than done’ also applies in the world of collectibles selling.
An international buying organization from Quebec put in a limitedly promoted appearance at a nearby hotel in Ottawa for several hours yesterday. I tried dealing with a similar – perhaps the same – outfit a couple of years ago in connection with trading cards. At that time I balked at the price offered.
On this occasion, given the wide ranging parameters outlined in their promotional flyer, I brought not only the cards but also some coins and stamps, as well as a couple of sports mementos from the early Montreal Expos. I had to take a number and wait for it to come up to proceed to one of three tables.
In the meantime, I witnessed the interplay between the hopeful sellers ahead of me and the company assessors. Naturally, the latter were polite but firm in their evaluations. While I was there more than one person or group, the average age being probably over 65, left their meeting without a deal. One interesting sale involved an elderly lady with an early post World War II military uniform. The best she was offered was $25, and she took it. Another woman had a box full of what appeared to be sports cards, quickly rejected.
When my turn came up, after waiting for one of the buyers with more expertise to become available, I had the following revelations:
- The baseball items were not unique enough, despite being from year two of a no longer existing sports franchise
- The offer for the trading cards was less than previously; I was informed that from their perspective only hockey cards were in demand
- There was no interest in looking at the stamps; only rarities would spark their interest, given the depressed state of the stamps market
- Concerning the coins there was limited interest; this is where I made my sales for the day, although it was a pair of Swiss coins which garnered the majority of attention; concerning Canada, and especially for the U.S., only high quality rarities would be considered for collectible purposes; I thought I had a few in this ballpark, but apparently not
A lesson learned again stems from realizing slickness of marketing imagery applies to niche sectors as well as broader ones, and an ad picture can well be brighter than the sales reality painting it.