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NostoNews, March 1, 2007
by Tommy Jasmin

Collectible or commodity?

The age of innocence for hobbies has long past. A good friend wonders if the day is near when slabbed comics are simply stored in a vault and people just trade ownership certificates. For all I know that's already the case in the coin world. If not, it's certainly a plausible business scenario, given the astronomical mintages for modern bullion (silver, gold, and platinum) coins. In fact, the idea brought back memories of ThePit.com, a company that I recall meant to create a real stock market for graded sports cards. I checked, and sure enough the site is there, although with a quick glance at the home page I see they still have a "Best viewed with Internet Explorer" button. This is kinda like saying "25% of our potential customers please just go away".

I doubt the scenario will truly play out for comic books though. There just isn't any book that exists in both quantity and value worth grading. In other words, I can't see a market where 1,000 shares of NM 9.4 Spawn 1 changes hands.

And for the unique, high-end items? Even the big spenders really want to see the thing in person before plunking down the dough. Partly because regardless of what the number says, an experienced collector will want to make sure it meets his/her idea for that number.

Another friend recently checked out multiple CGC 9.8 copies of a Marvel Civil War variant at The Source Comics and Games in the Twin Cities. He said upon inspection, some of the books were clearly not 9.8's. It was almost as if some just got pushed through to meet a quantity requirement. I can see how there will be grading differences on middle-ground, especially older books. But something as simple to grade as a 9.8 Modern Age book should be spot on.

Back to the commodity scenario. As shown by past examples like Barbies, Beanie Babies, and Pokemon, when product is manufactured and marketed as a collectible, packaged as a collectible (do not open!), and sold as a collectible, well sorry folks, it's not a collectible, it's a commodity. Huh, I guess I just ate my words.


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