Maybe collecting is in the British psyche.
A few months ago, I went down to the Stokes Croft area of Bristol, UK, to report for paulfrasercollectibles.com a the growing queue of Banksy fans that was stretching down the high street…
The queuers were there in droves. Each of them was hoping to own a new 2,000 limited edition print that Banksy had issued to “commemorate” recent anti-Tesco riots in the area.
Banksy’s Tesco-Value Petrol Bombs
Well, I’m assuming they were all Banksy fans. There may also have been a few shrewd investors among them. On the Saturday morning that the limited Banksy prints went up of sale, they were selling for just £5…
By Monday morning, the posters were changing hands on eBay for as much as £200. That’s a 4,000% profit in just over 24 hours.
Incredible stuff – an “instant collectible.” And it’s interesting that, whenever the unexpected happens, the centuries-old British passion for collecting seems to emerge…
Likewise, another unexpected occurrence happened this weekend when the final issue of the UK’s biggest-selling newspaper, the News of the World, hit the stands. Wherever in the world you are, you will likely be familiar with the phone hacking scandal which heralded the death of the 168-year-old tabloid.
As soon as the final edition was announced, people predicted that the paper’s final edition would become a collectors’ edition. Once again, the British public turned their attentions to collecting.
Sunday’s Final Edition of The News of the World
And, yet again, activity on eBay shot up as would-be-investors attempted to sell their final 10/07/2011 News of the World editions online. Let the ridiculousness commence…
Asking prices for the final editions range from £30 to £10 million. Needless to say, the newspapers aren’t exactly selling like hotcakes.
Although a few lots are enjoying some ‘success’. At the time of writing, a lot of 10 final News of the World copies has just closed at £25 with 13 bids (they originally sold for £1 each).
Elsewhere, another News of the World final edition seller has at least acknowledged the importance of condition in collectibles. Their single newspaper is being sold in a sealed wrapper. It has so far attracted £4.11, via six bids, with five hours left.
So, it’s unlikely that any of these buyers will have a 4,000% profit on their hands any time soon. For starters, the final News of the World paper isn’t especially limited… quite the opposite.
About four million copies sold on its day of release, last Sunday – a record amount. But, given the ‘supply and demand’ nature of collectibles, their abundance will prevent them from gaining value.
That said, if we forget about value and rarity, then the final News of the World is a legitimate collectible in that newspapers published with the story of an important event on their front page are among those traditionally sought-after by collectors.
Like headlines announcing the first Moon landing, the outbreak of World War II, or the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. But, if it’s value you’re looking for, then you’re better off going back in time…
Older newspapers aren’t always the most valuable (19th century editions or earlier can be bought relatively cheaply). But earlier copies in great condition are much rarer because of their low quality paper, and because many were thrown-away or recycled. This rarity can raise their value.
The truth is, collectible newspapers aren’t that valued. The most expensive, a copy of the Romanian newspaper, Zimbrulu and Vulturulu (The Aurochs and the Eagle) from 1858 once brought a record $1.1m – but only because it bore eight very rare Cap de Bour (Bull Head) stamps.
Another newspaper, the Dallas Morning news published on the morning of President John F Kennedy’s assassination, sold for $39,000… but only because it bore JFK’s last ever-autograph (the buyer immediately had it insured for $250,000).
JKF’s final signature, on a newspaper released the day of his death
It’ll take a lot more than scandal to make final copies of the News of the World sell for these amounts. Although it is encouraging to see the British public jump wholeheartedly into the collecting hobby, for collectibles of value you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Banksy petrol bomb image from: Banksy
News of the World image from: eBay
JFK newspaper image from: Heritage Auction Galleries