Monday, May 31, 2010

A Question for Collectors: How Important Is Rarity?

I'm curious as to how all of you collectors feel about an object's rarity, and how much weight you put on rarity when considering whether to add something to your own collections.

A rare example of the Atomic Robot Man, with a stamp from the 1950 New York Science Fiction Conference on the back. (Read more about it here.)

Do you particularly like rare items? Do you seek out rare items? Would you (or do you) pay a premium for rare items? Does a boring item become cooler if you know it's rare? Do you have any stories about rare pieces you have (or have not) added to your own collections?

Those questions are just to get the ball rolling -- feel free to approach the overall question in whatever manner makes the most sense in relation to your own collections and collecting habits. Post your answers in the comments section, and please feel free to respond to other people's responses -- let's get a conversation going. (But be polite!)

I'll post my own answer to the question once everyone else has had a chance to speak.


  1. For some they find ultimate satisfaction in rarity, and that's okay with me. I'm all for people who preserve these gems... as long as they like to share their goodies with the rest of us through their blogs! ;)

    I put less importance on rarity (don't get me wrong, its always nice to have!) and more emphasis on how much I like a particular item... how much it appeals to my "internal-kidself." If I ever make collecting more work than fun, or with the idea to impress other collectors, or with thoughts of it being an investment and forget about that kid inside me, then it's time to get out.

  2. I'm guessing that for those who collect specific things, such as, well, robots, or Majestic lamps or Art Deco purses or Fada radios, that scoring that "rare" item would be part of it, to better make a collection complete.

    For me, I buy what I like. I buy what grabs my attention. I buy what I feel I almost cannot live without. Having "super cool" items is fun, but not necessarily "super rare."

    HOWEVER, I most certainly CAN and DO appreciate others who possess rare and ultra rare items, and the stories that make them rare. I am happy they collect and preserve these rare items because, well, everything has it special place in history. I am glad there are people who take the time and trouble to do this.

  3. Yes rarity means something to me. Part of collecting is the treasure hunt aspect. I think it's perfectly legit to gain a little more satisfaction out of landing rare items because it's more of a challenge.


  4. I'm on the fence. I like what I like and rarity. I don't, however, like some pieces JUST because of rarity. I've collected toy lines for years and with what I have collected production pieces, even rare ones, became boring to me. I enjoy the hunt and easy pieces just aren't a hunt. In these other areas, I've gone towards pre-production pieces or rare bootlegs to satisfy this need. In this new hobby (robots, ray guns, space toys, etc.) I've found there are definitely pieces I like that are not rare but finding them with boxes or in NICE shape can be tough and I enjoy that so that is the way I've chosen to pursue this new venture. Why buy it all now? If I did, I'd be done.

    There's also a nice sense of accomplishment in finding a rarity. I don't really care if others are impressed because *I'm* impressed. When I can land something I didn't think I would be able to it makes me feel good, especially if there's a great story. I love finding stuff in old collections, mislabeled, at a toy show that nobody saw, etc. Some of my favorite acquisitions over the years came from these ridiculous 3, 4, and 5 way trades (usually involving all rare pieces being traded towards super rare pieces). That's when I'm most in my element and friends have told me for years that they didn't think there was anything I couldn't find and in my other hobby there's very little I'm left wanting.

    We all collect in our own way and what's most important is that YOU are happy, and that's the only reason to collect. Far too many collect for status and that's the worst possible reason because most people can see through you.

    John J. Alvarez

  5. The one thing I have gone far out of my way to collect is skateboards. I started collecting them in about 1994 and and at that time it was just picking up what ever I could find at tag sales and flea markets. By 1998 I had just a few boards as my area was not a hot spot of skateboard culture. In 1998 had just missed a board at a flea market and the girl was buying it right in front of me. It was a Very Clean Sims Lonnie Toft 8 Wheeler. It was something I had only seen in magazines so I tried to buy it from her for more money but she did not want to part with it. I got home and searched on the internet and one of them that came up was a Ebay auction. The board went for about $350 and I was blown away. And started stalking Ebay via buy it nows/newly listed first. Over the years I bought a lot of skates and sold and traded a lot of skates. Over the years I had a few very rare boards come my way very cheap considering. At one time I had about 90 boards in my collection but I narrowed it down to 9 boards that I like 4 of them being super rare 1 of 1 type of boards that I don't see myself parting with for a long long time.


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