Last year was an excellent year for collectors.
A plethora of television shows debuted on the subject, along the new seasons of the established favorites. I haven’t seem them all, but here are few mini-reviews of what I haven’t yet covered in full reviews here at Inherited Values:
It’s Worth What? managed to make it into the prime-time line-up at NBC in the summer. Though the horrible forced catch phrases were annoying, I really disliked the game show focus on monetary value. However, it should be stated, from a parenting and cultural point of view, that the money focus clearly illustrates our societal fascination with celebrity and luxury over history; food for significant thought.
History’s Real Deal has a concept I really like. Like Auction Kings, it shows the realities between estimate and actual prices realized at auction. This maybe it will, maybe it won’t, scenario is amplified against a backdrop of Las Vegas style gambling as deals for cold cash are negotiated as an attempt to avoid going to auction. However, Real Deal, even more than Auction Kings, suffers from a lack of cast or characters with enough quirk, drama or intensity to really hold interest.
Storage Wars spin-off, Storage Wars: Texas, seems to be holding up well. Perhaps the organic dynamic of rivalry in bidding, especially on camera, brings out a certain kind of person that makes the show work.
The popularity of collectibles and antiques in TV land is said to have “spawned an American collectible craze,” according to this article in USA Today:
Greg Dove of the National Flea Market Association, noting the reality-based programs have also helped level the playing field between serious collectors and the yard-sale set.
“It’s bringing in new faces, people from all economic strata,” says Dove. “We’re seeing more and more middle-class and upper-class folks coming to flea markets. Some are just curious, others are seeking collectibles and others are trying to stretch their dollar in a bad economy.”
Though no empirical data exist, Dove says the flea market industry, with estimated annual sales of $30 billion, has been energized by the renewed interest in antiques and collectibles.
I daresay this is also true for storage auctions.
The article continues:
Other venues are also benefiting from the uptick in demand for collectibles, however, namely online auction site eBay, which redefined the art of collecting when it went live in 1995.
In the third quarter of 2011, sales volume for its collectibles category reached $557 million, up 18% over the same three months in 2010, says Colin Sebastian, a senior analyst for Robert W. Baird & Co. asset management firm in San Francisco.
Its antiques and arts category posted sales of $263 million, up 17 percent over the third quarter last year; and coins and stamps hit $415 million, up 47% year-over-year (likely due to the skyrocketing price of gold.)
“It’s still a rough economy and I imagine there are still people trying to create some cash by selling things they have around the house,” says Sebastian, noting part of the category’s success stems from efforts by eBay to make its marketplace more appealing to buyers and sellers.
Those of us who have painfully been experiencing the snub of eBay’s nose regarding the lack of concern over the antiques and collectibles categories relish the numbers. Surely this will lead to better treatment, right? Don’t count on it.
Despite eBay’s own “Top Shopped” list for 2011 (a list, with an infographic, the company describes as “editorial in nature” and “focused on pop culture crazes”), eBay continues to move away from antiques and collectibles to it’s apparently preferred place as the Big Box Marketplace, catering to clients with contemporary inventory, big lots of identical new products, even if last year’s styles and lines. That’s not to say you can’t find a good deal there; it’s just that they are not going to focus on the needs of dealer and collectors of vintage and older items which are unique and certainly do have different requirements from the listing of multitudes of identical products.
I feel I must whine.
I just don’t understand eBay’s complete abandonment of what it was built upon: collectors and collectibles. We’re still here, in greater numbers even; why don’t you have our backs, want our bucks?
To illustrate my point, I draw your attention to this quote from eBay, Inc. covering the 2011 “Top Shopped” in more depth:
Retro Glamour: Between “Mad Men” and “Pan Am”, the small screen has never been so blessed with pitch perfect vintage style. And despite its mid-season cancellation, shoppers were still inspired by Pan Am, flocking to eBay to snatch up related items – 41,003 in total. Mad Men (30,378 related items sold) may have more seasons under its belt, but when it comes to memorabilia, the coolest fictional ad agency in the world can’t compete with the romanticism of 1960s air travel.
Clearly those seeking “retro glamour” want the actual iconic stuff from the past. (And, as a side note, Pan Am has not officially been cancelled… Fans like myself can hope!)
While eBay focused on pop culture, TIAS (The Internet Antique Shop) Hot List for 2011 focused on the old stuff. In this recap and interview with Phil Davies, you can see that vintage living and classic items for the home top the list.
All this seems to indicate that collecting is up and that collectors are looking for more places to buy their antiques and vintage collectibles — online and off. That tells us here at Inherited Values that we’ll need to focus more on helping you find the best places; so look for plenty of shopping reviews here in 2012.