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General Questions on Limited-Edition Collectibles

Specific Questions

Subject: Secondary Market Trading

How are prices for limited edition collectibles established on the secondary market?

As with most items in an open marketplace, prices are established in response to the supply of and demand for each individual item. Since limited edition pieces are, by definition, limited in the number of pieces available, demand for each piece will impact the market value of the item. Over time, the "supply" of a particular item may decrease, as natural disasters and home accidents result in damage or breakage. As the supply shrinks, the price may increase. Similarly, items that are in relatively large supply and experience small to moderate demand may see modest or low appreciation on the secondary market. These fluctuations in the secondary market value of items are tracked by various organizations.

It seems that there is a wide range of limited edition products being sold today. Has this resulted in a slow-down in secondary market trading?

Quite the contrary! The increased vitality of the primary market, as seen in the growing number of manufacturers and lines, has resulted in more vigorous trading on the secondary market. There are more collectors than ever before, they are younger and have more disposable income then their predecessors. In many cases, they're getting started later in a series---after the first few issues have retired---so increased demand for earlier pieces is generated. All of this fuels a very strong secondary market.

If you have a large collection, is it better to sell it as a "collection" or as single pieces?

It is very difficult to sell an entire collection unless it is comprised of all older pieces, since collectors usually have some of the pieces from the collections that they're building. Often, they are looking to supplement their own collection of later issues with some of the earlier pieces that they missed. It is also typically quite expensive to purchase an entire collection at once, so collectors will add to a collection piece-by-piece as they can afford the investment. You will usually receive greater value for your collection if you sell it one piece at a time, rather than trying to sell the whole collection at once to one buyer. By listing your collection as individual pieces, you have a better chance of moving all the pieces, though it may take some time.