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    Auction Finds

    Collectibles that may not be worth your money

    An auction house recently retweeted a story about items that people bought as collectibles but are not worth the price they paid for them. I found the list interesting because practically every one of the items turn up frequently on the auction tables.

    The May article on the Business Insider website had an apt title: “10 Collectible Crazes That Ended Up Being Huge Wastes Of Money.” The writer Mandi Woodruff asked several appraisers for their choices of what she called the “collectible shams of the last century.”

    For those who have any of the items, the article may spur you to check out whether you were right in your choices or should’ve spent your money on something else. For would-be collectors, the article is cautionary advice on how to carefully choose what you want to collect. If you bought the items because you love them, it really doesn’t matter.

    The items that ended up at auction weren’t likely disposed of so haphazardly by the collector. I suspect that some family member – overwhelmed by 100 dolls or 500 figurines – just wanted to get rid of the stuff left behind by an aunt or a cousin. They tossed them, I’m sure, because they didn’t know what else to do with them.

    Here are some of the items from the list and my auction experiences with them:

    From left, a Raikes bunny, a Ty bear and other stuffed animals in plastic bags.

    Beanie Babies

    I was at an auction once where a large Plexiglass case of Beanie Babies was put up for sale among a host of other stuff spread out on the owner’s lawn, including a fuchsia Ty bear. The case sold for $95.

    You can find a guide on the history, collecting and value of Beanie Babies on eBay. The writer suggested that you collect any of the original nine but make sure they’re in mint condition. The best is apparently the No. 1 bear that was given only to employees of Ty Warner, which made the original nine available to collectors at the 1993 World Toy Fair.

    I found page after page after page of bears selling for thousands of dollars on eBay, but no one was buying. These babies have lost their charm.

    1980s movie posters

    About two years ago, I went to a special auction of about 300 movie posters, most from the 1970s and 1980s, that had been left stored in a garage for 20 years by a theater employee. There were only a handful of auction-goers bidding on the posters, some of which were from the period of black movies dubbed blaxploitation.

    None of the posters went for much money: the least expensive was $3, the most expensive was a 1978 Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke” for $135. The 1981 “Raiders of the Lost Ark” sold for $75, and the 1980 “Dressed to Kill” for $5.

    Some 1980s movies posters were selling on eBay, most for less than $100.

    I don't buy baseball cards, but I got this album of basketball cards in a box lot.

    Modern baseball cards

    Boxes and boxes and boxes of new clean crisp baseball cards appear like weeds on the auction tables. I always wondered why people would buy so many. It didn’t matter, because auction-goers grabbed them up rather quickly. Not for a lot of money, though.

    I don’t buy baseball cards because I know very little about collecting them – I do know the name Topps – but I found a guide on the web that could get me started. I also learned that the Library of Congress has a collection of 2,100 cards from 1887 to 1914.

    The newer cards are more likely flea-market items. That’s what I’ll probably do with an album of basketball cards that came in a box lot of $5 items. I flipped through the cards hoping to find at least some that were worth more than 50 cents. I found one or two selling for around $20 on eBay.


    People just seem to adore these cute little figurines, and they don’t go begging at auctions. They are usually sold in sets; sometimes an auctioneer will sell a valuable one singly. The highest usually fetches about $50. I found several that sold on eBay for $5,000, and plenty more with the same asking price that did not sell. It appeared to be one of those collectibles where you just have to know which ones to buy or you can get stuck.

    The black Cabbage Patch Kids are said to be worth more today.

    Cabbage Patch Kids

    All of those dolls look the same to me. At least two have turned up in box lots I’ve bought. A boy doll had its lower face punched in. At first, I wasn’t sure if it had been made that way. I also got a black Cabbage Patch doll in another lot. According to the Business Insider article, the black dolls are more valuable. I wonder how many buyers who shunned those black dolls back then are lamenting that decision now.



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