Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wrestling MarketWatch: Autographs

Whew, can't believe I started this thing almost a year ago. I hope you guys are enjoying it and getting some info out of it. It's fun to do, and although I haven't gotten to update nearly as much as I'd like, I still hope to change that.

This entry is the first in a series I hope to revisit every so often, with a title I'm stealing from CBS...MarketWatch. Except, unlike the other MarketWatch, my version will give overviews on the market of...what else...pro wrestling collectibles.

Before I get into this entry's particular MarketWatch topic, let me explain how I'll base the information I present. Years ago, most collectors and dealers in ANY hobby lived and died by one thing: the price guide. Aside from ones with large numbers of pictures included, price guides are all but antiquated. Items are only worth what people are willing to pay at any given time. That's why one very well-known website pretty much destroyed price guides. That website? eBay.

As I tell anyone who asks my opinion on collectibles and resale of any kind, say what you want about their fees and practices, the latter of which grow more frustrating for the honest dealer each day, but the only way you're going to get EXACTLY what your item is worth at resale is by PROPERLY listing it on eBay.

Properly, you ask?

Here I am, giving my secrets away, but that's what this blog is for. The key to getting a GREAT deal on eBay is finding an item that is improperly listed. If the item isn't listed, in the title, as EXACTLY what it is, chances are that it's not going to sell for what it's worth. Who's going to find it? The keen-eyed collector that KNOWS to look for mistakes.

On the other hand, a properly listed item is going to sell for EXACTLY what it's worth on eBay. Unlike at a show or any other venue where your customer base is limited, on eBay the entire WORLD is watching...'88 WWF pun only partially intended. At a show, you stumble upon an item, and generally don't have other collectors vying for the same item at the same moment. At an auction, more importantly a properly listed online auction, your potential buyers can be ANYWHERE, therefore driving the price to it's exact value aka *WHAT THE COLLECTORS ARE WILLING TO PAY!*

Whew, now that we have that out of the way, let's move onto the rasslin'. The first focus is on something near and dear to my heart...autographs. They aren't every one's cup of tea. Some collectors hate them and feel they ruin items. To me, it makes (most) items all the more special.

The autograph world, in general, is an odd one. The wrestling autograph world...even odder. Collectors shell out hundreds to thousands of dollars a year to travel and obtain wrestling autographs personally. I should know, I'm one of the sickos. Why? All for personal pleasure. The resale value? Next to nothing.

There are exceptions. Soon after a star's passing, as with all autographs, the value of their particular items will shortly go up. Others who have passed before the "modern era" of collecting can also reach decent heights, but nowhere near the heights of a deceased person in another genre.

The general feeling is that most wrestling autograph collectors simply like to obtain their items in person. While it's very easy for even a rookie collector to spot a fake, the fact is, due to their low value, there are very few fake wrestling autographs out there.

That isn't to say the market is faux-free. A signed Yokozuna WWE Classic Superstars figure and signed Eddy Guerrero autobiography (both items produced after their deaths) are just some of the forgeries I've seen out there.

Still, I feel one day, especially during the next wrestling "boom" period, the market for wrestling autographs, as well as most other wrestling collectibles, will sky-rocket once again.

I've had my eye on a few recent auctions. To get an idea of what properly listed and advertised, authentic, and no longer obtainable autograph or autograph collections have gone for, here are a few examples:

*Just this weekend, a vintage autograph book of nearly 100 signatures sold for $295. I watched this one with great interest, as not only was the auction nicely presented, but it was advertised on at least one Internet forum where fans of classic wrestling would be able to learn about it. The book contained downright impossible signatures to find, the crown jewel in my eyes being the father of Japanese wrestling, Rikidozan. Rikidozan was murdered in the early '60s. That, coupled with the fact that he was largely an international star, made that item probably one of the few opportunities collectors will EVER have to add his autograph to their collection. More recently deceased names such as Freddie Blassie, Ernie Ladd, and Mr. Moto (Tor Kamata) were among other big stars in the book. The seller included the story of how and when the autographs were obtained and who the original owner was. The story added up. I have a feeling the value would've been a lot more, had a lot of the autographs not been cut from their original pieces of paper and taped into the book, and the book being in less than stellar shape, with stains, etc.

*A few weeks ago, a seller listed, individually, a set of promo photos from the first WCW Slamboree event. The photos featured four stars on each, all of which were at an autograph signing at the pay-per-view dubbed "A Legends Reunion." Nearly all of these 8x10s had AT LEAST one deceased star on each, and iconic names at that. Wahoo McDaniel, The Crusher, The Fabulous Moolah, Dick Murdoch, Johnny Valentine, and Lou Thesz were just some of those names. The photos topped out at around $30 to $70 each, with the highest one featuring Wahoo and Crusher along with living stars Dusty Rhodes and The Assassin. These were a great opportunity for even the most skeptic autograph collector to get some very rare autographs. There probably aren't that many sets of these particular photos UNAUTOGRAPHED, as the photos were exclusive to the event. Add that to the fact that the signatures were nice, big, and clear, and that there's extensive documentation from photos to video proving that these stars were at this event (I've even seen photos of the autograph session), I'm actually surprised that these items didn't go even higher.

*And sometimes...it's all about the item. Sadly and obviously, there will be no more NEW items signed by The Fabulous Moolah. That said, Moolah did a lot of signings in her day. There are a lot of signed Moolah photos out there. One item, that was released the year she died, was her one and only action figure. It was part of the highly-collected WWE Classic Superstars line, and she did do several signings after these were available. One recently sold on eBay for $100, while autographed photos of her can be obtained for around $10. Obviously she signed fewer figures, therefore bringing up the value, added to the fact that many collectors try to get as many figures signed from the Classic Superstars line as they can get their hands on.

That's it for the first "MarketWatch" entry. I hope it was fun and a bit enlightening. Feel free to comment either on here or if you're a member of our fan page on Facebook and let me know what you'd like to see.

Coming soon...a very special WrestleMania entry focusing on a set of items from "The Greatest Sports Entertainment Spectacular of All-Time" that have rarely been seen, a possible rant about a recent issue I personally encountered with a certain wrestling company's online store, and maybe that showing of the branch of my collection focusing on "The Dream," that I've been promising for awhile now.

Thanks and stay tuned!

4 comments:

Bilal said...

Hey

Ive been collecting various types of memorabilia for quite some time and recently shifted my focus to wrestling since ive been a die hard fan for over 15 years.

I really enjoyed this article since ive been on ebay way more than I should be over the past few months, searching for rare wwf/wwe items. I myself have found some killer deals all thanks to a poorly made auction.

I look forward to reading your future posts.

J\/\/ said...

Thanks!

donelh1 said...

What would a Ed strangler Lewis and an Everette Marshall go for. They were both world champions in early to mid 1900s. Do you have any Idea?

Anonymous said...

I have a Batista, Rey Mysterio and Tax autograph I'm looking to find the worth of