Monday, September 24, 2012

Collecting 101: Setting the sale price or “You want HOW much?!?”

Let me begin this story by first saying that it is my firm belief that collectors have the right to get whatever amount they can for their property. Like any property, they can give it away or ask a million for it.

So with that said, let’s begin with a recent auction on Ebay. A seller has this listed:


This is a Class C uniform, one of the many, MANY uniform variants made for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The seller shows the Western Costume labels and identifies this as coming from a “cutted” scene, which I can only assume means a cut or deleted scene. While this may be true, the seller gives no proof of this “cutted” scene and I’ve never seen a single image of Shatner wearing this thing. And it’s a good thing, because in my opinion this style was one of the sillier uniforms made for TMP. If the Class A (2-part) uniforms were pajamas, this style was “lounge wear”. Thankfully it is only seen on screen being worn by Sulu at the beginning of the film. I’ve also seen an unused version of this style that was made for McCoy.

So this is an unused piece. And here’s my definition of “unused” – if it’s not on-screen, it is therefore unused in the film. I don’t care about things made but never shown. I have no doubt that this is a real, made-for-Shatner costume. But this is a lesser style piece made for a lesser film (TMP usually comes in near the bottom on most Trek fans lists – including mine) and never actually made it into the movie.

So we have an unused piece in what I think is the least desirable style possible. In my opinion, the Shatner tags are the only thing that gives this piece ANY real value. Without them, this is worth a few hundred dollars, I think. With the tags, on a good day to the right collector, this might fetch $2-3,000, max, and I think I’m being kind.

But the seller wants $14,000!!  Actual, screen-used TMP Shatner pieces haven’t gone for anywhere near that amount, but this guy thinks he’s hit a gold mine for some reason. While anything is possible (there’s a sucker born every minute) I think 14 grand is not just pie-in-the-sky, but is literally one in a million. If I were a betting man, I’d give odds that this piece would never sell at this price, under any conditions. It’s a silly, uninformed number that the seller plastered on it to see if someone is dumb enough to go for. I don’t see it happening during the current geologic epoch.

There’s another piece on Ebay that falls into this same category. Someone has been trying to sell this for a looooong time:

1970s "Mr Spock" Ears Worn By Leonard Nimoy in the 1979 "Star Trek" The Movie

This seller wants $22,000!! Why is that unreasonable? Because there must have been DOZENS of these made for EVERY movie, which does not equate to being some ultra rare piece of Star Trek history. For the record, Nimoy-worn latex ears seldom fetch more than a few thousand dollars. They would be a nice addition to anyone’s Trek collection, IMO, but these are not so rare that they command 22 grand. No way, no how.

If these sellers want to actually sell these pieces, they need to first of all do a little research and understand just what it is they are selling. And secondly, they need to adjust their prices to reflect the real world. As it stands, these two are the very definition of “pie-in-the-sky” pricing and as such will never sell, in this writer’s opinion.


Don Hillenbrand

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