Musings By Joschik Posts

Random Acts of Kindness – Special Treatment on Special Events

Young Christian Braun

Musings By Joschik

Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and his musings share some of his collecting experience.

I just returned from the 30th Hot Wheels Annual Collectors Convention and started to unpack. Besides a lot of Hot Wheels models, some other cars (some Matchbox and 4 Majorettes) I also ended up with 3 RAOKs.

raoks-from-the-hot-wheels-convention

Collectors prepare these and then give it to others – some make them for children that are running around in the hotel and other produce them in the middle of an interesting conversation. It’s one of the things that make a difference to European events which are much more focused on the business of buying and selling stuff.

The first one I got from Kirk at KMJ Diecast who maintains a well stocked store on hobbyDB. He probably produces the most of these RAOKs as every child in the hotel had at least one! Kirk gets his dyed by a friend, Karl Klouzer and they are all one-offs.

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The next one I received was from Scot Orloff, a member of hobbyDB who goes under the name of Loaf and has made Teslas.  They are nicely decaled with (what else would you expect) Loaf decals.

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The last one I was given was during a conversation with Albert who makes some amazing customs under the Kool51 insignia.  I just had commented on how I liked his Hawaiian themed VW Kombi custom when he said “here is your RAOK”.  I have of course added the Kool Tiki Kombi to hobbyDB.

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Now I have to brush up my customizing skills before going to the next convention!

Please add any RAOKs you received in the comments!

hobbyDB & Museums – a perfect combination

young-christian-braun-smallMusings By Joschik

Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and his musings share some of his collecting experience. He recently joined the board of Auto-Archives, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization.

Visiting museums is one of my favorite pastimes and I’ve been to more than 400 of them (including personal collections that are so extensive and well-displayed that I count them as museums!) Museums play an important part in promoting collecting and I think hobbyDB can add enormous value to them as part of the collecting ecosystem, by allowing easy cataloging and, more importantly, showcasing and sharing their collections. This is why we decided to develop features specific to museums and large collection (see hobbyDB’s roadmap for details).

Museums’ software today serves mainly one purpose, keeping an inventory and giving admins access to it. Here’s an example;

traditional-museum-software

Museum Software packages are still stand-alone and not integrated into any other databases

As a first step, we want to give collectors and the public-at-large granular access to each item so that they know which museum has a particular item.

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A mock-up of a catalog entry showing which museum has the item in its collection

Next would be custom profiles for museums. These pages would explain the museum’s philosophy and how to get access to their collections. For example, “This item is in Room 8 on public view” or “This item is in the off-site archive, you need to give us two weeks notice and here is how”.

After that we plan to show all items in a particular museum with full search capabilities.  We want to ensure that these digital presences are aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly, the same way museums work hard on their physical presentations (like the Mint Museum of Toys with the below gallery).

Mint Museum of Toys

The Mint Museum of Toys in Singapore. Its founder Chang Yang Fa is a member of the hobbyDB Advisory Board

We also plan to extend the Wish List functionality so that museums can ask for items to be donated or loaned, either on a long-time basis or just for an exhibition.

We have already started working with Auto-Archives and the Shelby American Collection to have their volunteers document these two collections (with an estimated total of 300,000 items) and are talking to five other museums about doing the same.

american shelby collection

The American Shelby Collection not only houses the two most expensive American-made cars but is also custodian to thousands of Shelby related documents

In keeping with our ethos, these features will be free for museums, of course. We hope they’ll add enormous value and help them boost attendance – and help bring hobbyDB’s vision of being “the World’s Museum” one step closer to reality!

How to Best Sell a Collection

Young Christian Braun

Musings By Joschik

Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and his musings share some of his collecting experience. Over the last 30 years, he has bought and sold more than 50 collections, owned a physical auction house and operated Europe’s largest eBay store. As part of his work with the hobbyDB Advisory Board Christian has also seen many of the largest collections of the world.

What does Collecting have in common with getting married?

Most collectors collect for collecting’s sake and this will only make sense to a collector. For me, preserving history and relaxation are part and parcel of this same collecting rationale. Collectors rarely (if ever) think about what happens when the love cools and how they will then have to sell everything.

Motormax Ford Mustang Newly-Weds

Consider that your collection might not be with you forever

 

While there are ways to make this sell-off significantly easier, it is like prenuptial agreements – something most don’t want to touch. This blog post tackles why collectors sell, how to go about it and how to best prepare for an eventual sale.

Like the 40-50% of spouses who eventually head for the divorce court, the vast majority of collectors eventually fall out of love with their collections. How long it takes that to happen depends on the type of collectible. For example, pocket watch collectors keep collecting longer than collectors of newer things like Funko Pop Vinyls. On average, the latter will collect for around four years, while collectors of more vintage subjects like Decoys collect for 18 years.

Funko and Vintage Decoy Owls

Until becoming a vintage item himself, Bubo will live in five times as many households as his unhappy neighbor!

 

Why do collectors stop collecting?

There are five main reasons why folks stop collecting and then want to liquidate and recoup the value of their collection:

  1. Lose interest in the subject (this is often followed by a segue into collecting something else)
  2. Need money (and if so, they usually need it fast – which makes being prepared to sell even more important)
  3. Down-sizing
  4. Other-half is strongly opposed to collecting and wins the battle
  5. The ultimate show-stopper – death

Realizing full value for a collection requires both expertise, motivation and time. The reason for selling can have a major influence on how a collection can be sold. For example death often takes the necessary expertise with it.

How to know the value of a collection?

Collectors of vintage items will know a lot about the value of their individual items as they can only buy them in the secondary market (no retailers stock vintage uniform patches ;-). That said, a vast majority of these collectors have no clue how many items are in their collection and significantly underestimate the quantity of item they have bought over time. Often, they need to do an inventory or at least take a count or make an estimate of the number of items they own.

Collectors of more modern type of collectibles such as NASCAR racing cars often over-estimate the value of their collections as they bought at retail and modern collectibles (say everything sold in retail post 1990) generally loses 50% or more of its value as soon as you buy it.

Bandai Tinplate versus Jeff Gordon NASCAR model

A Bandai Tinplate car will beat a NASCAR model in value appreciation every time!

 

A lot of these collectors get a rude awakening when it comes to selling, as they relied on labels such as Limited Edition or Special Collector Edition, erroneously thinking that these automatically ensure the items retain value. While there might be only 500 models of a particular Jeff Gordon model there are hundreds of other Jeff Gordon models and as long as they continue to sell, more will be produced, making it very hard for any of them to ever appreciate in value. Also, as these items were produced for the collector market, most will be carefully stored in glass cabinets so there is very little rate of attrition.

When assessing a collection, there are five different types of value:

  1. Catalog Value. Where price guides exist, you can add the value of each item and come up with an aggregate value. The accuracy of that value depends on how the catalog authors calculated the values it gives and how long ago it was compiled. Catalog Value also do not take into account costs of selling (market place fees, fees for a stand at a fair, time, fuel etc). It is not unusual for collectors to use a catalog value, adding or subtracting a percentage to compensate for these factors.
    Stanley Gibbons Price Guide

    It is not unusual to value stamps by using a catalog price and then apply a discount such as “Stanley Gibbons minus 30%”

     

  2. Insurance Value. This is the replacement value and varies between the Catalog Value and the Wholesale Value, in particular if a whole collection has been lost, for example through fire.
    Broken Doll

    Insurance value should cover replacement costs or, if that is not possible, repair plus the value loss that results from being repaired

     

  3. Wholesale Value. This is the value of a collection if sold to a dealer for resale. The dealer needs to make a profit, so will obviously pay less than retail value. Wholesale value value is often quite close to having the collection sold through an auction house as the net proceeds of an auction sale exclude Sellers Fees, Insurance Premium, Picture Fees, Buyer’s Premiums etc.
    Auction Houses often have to sell large parts of collections as lots, here Star Wars toys.

    Auction Houses often have to sell large parts of collections as lots, here Star Wars toys.

     

  4. Retail value – this is the value of each item sold individually and at the prevailing market value (for example at a physical location like a collector fair or on a website where collectors of this type of collectible transact.)
    Selling on trade fairs gives you the best value but will take a very long time

    Selling at trade fairs gives you the best value, but will take a very long time

     

  5. Realized Value – this is what you actually have left over after all is sold and all costs are factored in.

For me the only value of interest is the Realized Value (unless you currently have an insurance claim) as its the only meaningful measure. Realized Value is either the Wholesale Value or the Retail Value after deducting all direct and indirect costs. Your calculation should also include a value for your time spent on selling the collection, for example at an estimated time-taken-per-item when you sell items online.

The various routes to Monetization

There are many different ways to sell, but they all fall into this five groups:

  1. Selling the collection in one transaction. This is the easiest way to sell a collection but also the one that gives the lowest Realized Value overall. If you have more than 500 items in your collection you can expect to realize less than 15% of the collection’s Retail Value.
    Selling everything is sometimes the only option, but it is always very painful!

    That’s how much you can lose. Selling everything is sometimes the only option, but it is always very painful!

     

  2. Contracting a 3rd party to sell the collection for you. This could either be done via (a) an auction house or (b) as consignment sales with a specialist dealer. Auction Houses are great if you have lots of high value items that are difficult to handle and have a world-wide market. Consignment Selling is the best compromise if you want to receive more of the actual value of your collection but are not willing to do the work required. It does, however, require you to be able to wait for your money and trust whoever you give your collection to, as it is almost impossible to draw up contracts that protect the vendor sufficiently.
    Barrett-Jackson is one of th best places to sell a 2006 Ford GT

    Barrett-Jackson is one of the best places to sell a 2006 Ford GT

     

  3. Selling at Events. The right event provides great returns for items sold and the fees are fixed. That being said, you will only sell a fraction of your collection at your first event and then less and less at later events (unless you are willing to significantly discount). Please also take into account costs such as fuel and your time!
    You might want to count food, hotel, fuel etc - or you might say I enjoy the show and would have come anyway!

    You might want to count food, hotel, fuel etc – or you might take the view that you enjoy attending the show and would have come anyway!

     

  4. Selling online. This can be done anytime and you can do it from home! You can sell either via Auction (faster, but potentially risky in terms of how much you receive) or through a fixed price sale (no surprises but it can take a long time to sell your items). If you have the time, the willingness to photograph, write a good description, pack, ship and deal with customer service issues, this is the way to go!
    Sometimes you find a specialist site that is just perfect for what you want to sell

    Sometimes you find a specialist site that is just perfect for what you want to sell

     

  5. Giving it to a museum – this is not only a nice way to give and have the ability to continue enjoying your collection but can also make financial sense as, subject to where you are, you can get substantial tax credits!
    Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 16.45.45

 

Incorporating an eventual selling plan into how you collect

Even if you are not considering selling your collection now, it’s always wise to plan what you can do now and over the coming years to make it easier for either you or your loved ones to eventually realize the value of your collection when it does come time to liquidate. If you are male (and 90% of collectors are), and in a traditional marriage, you might want to consider that your wife will be an average of 3 years younger than you and will live an average 5 years longer than you. As such, it’s an excellent idea to document your collection by making an inventory in Excel, via a video or, of course, here on hobbyDB.

More Information

It is my plan to improve this article over time. That said, here are some articles that cover specific aspects of selling a particular type of collectible:

  1. Books
  2. Classic Cars (opens as a PDF)
  3. Coins
  4. Comics
  5. Lego
  6. Stamps IStamps II

 

Please leave a comment!

If you:-

  • have queries about selling your collection, including questions on good consignment sellers,
  • want to discuss any aspect of selling a collection,
  • have tips to share, or
  • know of other good resources that I should link to

Please leave a comment below. If your question is about your own collection, please include a quick description of what you collect, approximately how many objects there are in your collection, roughly where the collection is located and how much time and expertise you have. This would allow me to give you more specific answers.

Cataloging is difficult and needs lots of TLC

Young Christian Braun

Musings By Joschik

Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and his musings share some of his collecting experience.

I am still relatively new to Colorado and when I saw a book called “Weird Colorado” I needed to have it.  When looking for it on Amazon I found that a search for the title produced five results that were all the same!

Catalog Problems at Amazon
And I am not the only one who found this problem, googling the phrase “Amazon Catalog Duplicates” shows more than 700,000 results.  This makes purchasing difficult as Weird Colorado was offered from $3.35 to $20.87 (a 623% difference) despite the fact that all of these books were in the same condition degree!

On hobbyDB we have (so far) only one catalog entry for Weird Colorado:

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 12.20.29

 

And even if the book was also available as a Softcover it would indicate that there are two variants and then show the differences prominently on the search and catalog pages:

– Mockup only as there is no softcover –

Catalog problems are just part and parcel of a crowd-sourced approach.  To minimize these problems we are working so hard to build a community of Curators.  There are now 214 of these hobbyDB heroes, here some examples and here some more info on curating.  One of them would have merged any duplicated entries if we had them.

Please reach out if you’d like to become part of the Curation Nation!

Take a Trip to America’s Largest Comics Store, Mile High Comics

Young Christian Braun

Musings By Joschik

Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and his musings share some of his collecting experience.

The other day I spoke to Chuck Rozanksi, the owner of Mile High Comics about meeting up.  He suggested that I should come to the Mile High warehouse, America’s Largest Comics Store- and am I glad I did!

warehouse-space-10pkg-transf6er

It might not look much from the outside but it is just enormous inside and every nook and cranny is filled up with cool stuff.

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And there are tons of things to see, like what is probably the largest Lego Minifig ever:

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The best thing is that it’s open to the public with more than a million comics to chose from…

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…as well as lots of other things such as posters, action figures, Lego Minifigs etc. – if it is comics related you can probably find it here!

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I had a fantastic time and Chuck is our kind of guy, not only is he nuts for comics; he also has an awesome collection of Native American pottery (we look forward to document those!).  I have the feeling Chuck just doesn’t do small, there are shelves and shelves full of them – and he knows the story behind every one of them!

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Take an afternoon off and venture down there!  You will find the address on milehighcomics.com.