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PS4? Xbox One? I’ll take the NES any day.

It’s official. The Sony PS4 is winning the much-publicised sales war against Microsoft’s Xbox One, at least in the UK.PS4, Playstation, Sony, console, video games

The games console has sold over 2.1m copies since November 29, with Microsoft keeping rather quiet, stating only that there have been “over 3 billion zombies killed in ‘Dead Rising 3’”.

But here at Paul Fraser Collectibles, we tend to shy away from technological advancements, preferring to bury our heads in the fascinating items from the past. As the world clamours to own one of these consoles, we’re only now looking at the earliest computers.

It’s not that we’re completely behind the times, but rather that collectibles are our business, and early computers and technology are becoming just that – collectible.

Now we all know that Apple-1s and the very first computers to be released can fetch a pretty penny, but we’re talking video games here. Take a look at some of the button-bashing classics that will cost you more than just a few gold coins:

Tengen Tetris

Tengen, Tetris, Nintendo, Game, Video, Computer

One of the best known computer games in the world, Tetris is nothing short of iconic for the generation that grew up playing it. Even if you’ve never had a go, you can probably hum the hypnotic theme song or describe the falling blocks.

But did you know that, before being released by Nintendo, the game was actually developed by Russian company Tengen and was billed as “The Soviet Mind Game”?

However, once released, Nintendo argued that it had the distribution rights to the game, and ordered all of the existing copies to be destroyed. Today, just three copies are known to exist, with one example appearing on eBay valued at $40,000.

Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy, video game, rare, playstation, english, version, copy,

One of the first games to be released exclusively for the PS4 is Final Fantasy XV, much to the delight of the series’ dedicated fanbase, yet an English copy of the second game in the long running series will still cost you far more.

The game was originally released in Japan on Nintendo NES in 1988, and plans were in motion for an English version of the game to be released in 1991. However, the game was scrapped due to Nintendo deciding to put its efforts into the English version of Final Fantasy IV, which had already been released on SNES by the time they got round to it.

Since then, only one pre-production sample cartridge has surfaced, valued at $50,000.

Stadium Events

Stadium Events, Bandai, Nintendo, Family Fun, Fitness, video game, rare, for sale, memorabilia

Stadium Events was released in 1988 for use with the Family Fun Fitness Mat, an early precursor to the dance mats of the late 90s. A run of the mill athletics game, it hardly sounds like the kind that collectors would pay thousands for today.

However, due to Nintendo buying the rights to the Family Fun Fitness Mat and rebranding it the PowerPad, before destroying all copies of any game that could be used with it, Stadium Events is incredibly rare.

Apparently, only 2,000 copies were produced (remember, video games weren’t quite as popular back then) and only around 200 were sold.

In 2010, a sealed copy of the game reportedly sold for $41,300 – the record for any video game sold at auction. Another example is said to have gone for as much as $800,200, though I – and many other sources –  find that hard to believe.

English: An NES console with controller attached.

I’ll remain at home with my NES until this all blows over

Looking at those collectibles, it’s obvious that Nintendo is the collector’s choice, yet the gaming giant seems to have dropped out of the current sales race: the PS4 and Xbox One have both outsold the Wii U’s lifetime total in the UK in just a few weeks (the Wii U was released more than a year ago).

by Joe


The Maltese Falcon – an allegory for high-end collecting?

The Maltese Falcon – the original prop statuette from the movie, that is – sold at auction this week for a staggering $4m, pushing its way into the top ten list of movie memorabilia sold at auction.

Maltese Falcon, statuette, movie, prop, memorabilia, auction, sold

The “priceless” statuette almost disappeared altogether when Bogart dropped it on set

If you’re a collector, you’d have been hard pushed to have missed the news. Yet even if you’re not, the sale was still covered by almost every newspaper. Bonhams’ Dr Catherine Williams explained its appeal:

“The spectacular price achieved reflects the statuette’s tremendous significance. The Maltese Falcon is arguably the most important movie prop ever, and is central to the history of cinema.”

But what struck me with the sale is that the film, in which Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade becomes embroiled with a group who are  prepared to do just about anything to get the statuette, can be interpreted as an allegory for the hobby of collecting itself – particularly those unique items at the high-end of the market.


Was Arthur Hind the inspiration for Kasper Gutman?

The Maltese Falcon symbolises the ultimate object of desire: the villainous Kasper Gutman goes so far as to say, “Well, if you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon”.

I’m not saying your average collector will go quite that far (though maybe some of us have considered worse!), but it’s this same desire that drives the market. Every serious collector wants to obtain that piece that no one else owns, no matter what his or her interest. They each want to be added to the list of illustrious characters who have held the item in their hands and called it their own, if only for a few months or years.

Take the famous 1c Magenta from British Guiana for example, the only known copy of which was owned by US industrialist Arthur Hind until a second example surfaced in the 1920s. Using his vast wealth at his disposal, Hind paid a huge sum to buy the second stamp, only to set fire to it with his cigar, before exclaiming:

“I still own the world’s rarest stamp!”

A real life Kasper Gutman, no doubt.

But the stamp’s tale doesn’t end there. It then passed into the hands of John du Pont, the eccentric heir to the du Pont family fortune, who – among other actions of questionable sanity – hired professional wrestlers as body guards to protect his farm estate, before murdering one of them and spending his life in prison. The whereabouts of the stamp remain a mystery.

With stories like these, its easy dismiss the old stigma of dusty collectors pouring over their prized possessions in a stuffy room. With the right items, the world of collecting can be “the stuff that dreams are made of”.

See our unique collectibles for sale.

By Joe

What makes Beatles records so valuable?

All records signed by all four members of the Beatles are exceptionally rare, but some are rarer than others.

Please Please Me, the debut album which was released in 1963, is the most widespread – with around 70 known examples, according to Autograph Magazine’s census. Despite the record being the most commonly signed, it is not unusual for copies to sell for upwards of $15,000.

Lill-Babs and The Beatles took part in the Swe...

The Beatles performing on Swedish television in 1963

With the Beatles and A Hard Day’s Night are far rarer, with around 15-20 and 8-10 known examples respectively – meaning examples very rarely come up for auction.

However, with preceding albums – including Help, Rubber Soul and Revolver – the number of signed copies available drops dramatically – down to just one or two known examples worldwide.

So why the sudden drop in signed records in the mid 1960s?

Well, at this time the Beatles were at the height of their creative powers, no longer the fresh faced teenagers who had inspired such mania amongst young girls on both sides of the Atlantic. They grew their hair long, tuned into the counterculture and shook off their teenybopper fans – becoming less approachable as they slowly imploded.

This capping of the market early on has ensured that the value of their records will continue to rise as long as demand remains consistent.

In 2011 the record for the most valuable Beatles record was set by Meet the Beatles, which realised an impressive $150,000.

47 - 1963 - Beatles, The - Meet The Beatles - ...

Meet the Beatles was the band’s second album in the US.

That figure has since been outstripped.

So what is the most valuable autographed Beatles record today?

That record was set in April of this year by a copy of the seminal Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which made an incredible $290,500 – soaring past its initial valuation by 868.3%.

The Beatles Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club ban...

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The value of Beatles records keeps on climbing, with the value of a signed album page up a solid 6.3% between 2012 and 2013.

You can view our signed copy of A Hard Day’s Night here, one of the 8-10 in existence.


An axe to die for – guitars at auction this December

Drummers, I’m sorry to say this, but in the grand scheme of things…nobody cares.

You’re instrument may be the glue that holds a band together, but when it comes to fan favourites, you’re last on the list.

I guess you all ready knew that; it’s an old adage that’s been bandied around since man first began hitting things with sticks.

Bassists, likewise. In the eyes of the adoring crowds, you are the drummer’s girlfriend, or a failed guitarist. Unless you have virtuosic slap-bass skills, you can take your place in that dark area at the back of the stage.

I’m sorry to bring you these truths. Even Paul McCartney – writer of some of the best-known bass lines in history – didn’t want to be a bassist.

Regardless of talent, we all know that it’s the guitarist that’s the coolest member of almost any band – next to the singer, that is. If you happen to do both, you’ve reached the pinnacle of performing prowess.

Its why guitars, signed or not, are some of the most sought after instruments by collectors. Everyone remembers Hendrix’s white Stratocaster, but can you remember the bass that Noel Redding was playing beside him at Woodstock? Thought not.

The double-necked Gibson played by Jimmy Page is something of rock legend, but Jon Paul Jones’ bass? Not a clue.

In December, the auction world will be hit with an influx of guitars played by the top axe-wielding heroes.

The most important of these is the Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan controversially played at Newport Folk Festival in 1965.

Dylan's use of an electric guitar caused outrage among folk purists

Dylan’s use of an electric guitar caused outrage among folk purists

The guitar is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces of music memorabilia, marking a pivotal moment in the career of perhaps the most celebrated songwriter of all time.

Also selling is Van Halen’s Frankenstrat, a custom made 1982 Kramer that was used throughout the 1982-1983 Diver Down Tour, and bears the scars of 1980s rock n’ roll excess to prove it. Instantly recognisable to anyone that plays, the Frankenstrat is nothing less than an icon.

The original Frankenstrat was handmade by Van Halen himself from two different guitars

The original Frankenstrat was handmade by Van Halen himself from two different guitars

With Deadheads still as dedicated to the California psych-rockers as ever, two almost identical guitars from the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia will appear at Bonhams and Julien’s Auctions just days apart from each other.

The guitar features a sticker that read, "There is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert".

The guitar features a sticker that read, “There is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert”.

Garcia’s guitars are legendary, and there are no shortage of them to keep collectors interested. The two best-known examples, nicknamed Tiger and Wolf, sold for $957,500 and $789,500 respectively in 2002.

Comparatively, Ginger Baker’s drum kit, a fantastic piece from one of the top-rated and best loved drummers of all time, is valued at just $24,166-32,222 in the Bonhams auction. Sorry drummers, its nothing personal.

Elvis played the acoustic live on stage in Denver

Elvis played the acoustic live on stage in Denver

Completing the line-up of axes at auction this December is Elvis’ limited edition NBN acoustic guitar, which is selling for more than $50,000 at Heritage auctions.

Yet it looks like I spoke to soon on the bassist’s behalf…

One of Paul McCartney’s trademark Hofner basses is  also coming to auction with an estimate of $150,000-200,000; far more than most I’ve listed already.

The violin-shaped Hofner bass is McCartney's trademark instrument, yet there's no proof he ever played this example

The violin-shaped Hofner bass is McCartney’s trademark instrument, yet there’s no proof he ever played this example

But don’t get your hopes up just yet bassists, you’ve a lot of catching up to do before you can compete with a Beatle! On the plus side, whether drummer or bassist you are likely to be less egotistical and likely to live for longer than your limelight-loving guitarist – at least you can take comfort in that.

See our music memorabilia for sale, and take a look at our top five electric guitars at auction list.


PS, if any readers fancy buying me one of the these for Christmas, in thanks for my fascinating posts, I’ll take the Dylan Strat or Elvis Acoustic! Thanks!

Duelling Dinosaurs

Recently, it was announced that a rare aspiration (a fossil immortalising an animal in the act of choking on its prey) could sell for up to $250,000 at Heritage Auctions.

amphibian aspiration Heritage

Sclerocephalus Hauseri aspiration

The fossil in question features a juvenile Sclerocephalus haeuseri, a mildly unpleasant looking amphibian. It is exceptional, however, as it is the only aspiration featuring an amphibian ever discovered.

When it comes to fossils, the key factors in gauging value are condition and rarity. Getting fossils out of the ground in one piece is no easy business, and the incredible scarcity of museum grade examples means that their value can easily match the enormous sums paid for jewellery or works of art.

They have their own (largely male) celebrity following as well – Nicholas Cage, Harrison Ford and Leonardo Di Caprio are reported to be avid collectors.

So what’s the most expensive fossil ever sold? That would be an almost perfectly preserved T-Rex skeleton (nicknamed Sue) that was unearthed in South Dakota in 1990. It was bought by the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago for $8.3m in 1997.

Sue the T-Rex at the Field Museum of Natural H...

Sue the T-Rex at the Field Museum of Natural History

Fossils that achieve seven figure sums are rare, and tend to be widely reported. In 2011, an Allosaurus and a Stegosaurus locked in a battle to the death sold for $2.7m at Heritage Auction in Dallas to an unnamed museum outside the US.

This November, another pair of fighting dinosaurs, known as the “Montana Duelling Dragons” will highlight a sale at Bonhams New York with an estimate of $7m-9m. The auction house stated in its assessment of the lot: “The fully articulated skeletons show the well-matched foes were locked in mortal combat, each inflicting fatal wounds on the other”.  Montana duelling dinosaurs

It will certainly be interesting to see if they can knock Sue off her perch.



How to spot Lord Lucan

Is Lord Lucan still alive?

And if so, where is he?

This blog post won’t help solve either of those two questions, I’m afraid. But it will give you a better chance of spotting the errant Lord should you ever run into him.

Lord Lucan is widely believed to have bludgeoned to death his family’s nanny in London on November 7, 1974, after mistaking her for his wife.

His car was found in Newhaven on the south coast the following day, but since that time his whereabouts are unknown.

Many think he committed suicide out in the English Channel, others believe he escaped abroad, with some evidence suggesting that Lucan was in hiding in Africa for several years.

Lord Lucan

Lord Lucan with wife Veronica Duncan

Sightings have ranged from a restaurant in San Francisco to a bar in Botswana.

The High Court pronounced him dead in 1999.

Now medical notes from a Harley Street doctor, which reveal that Lucan suffered a badly broken nose in 1963, are coming to auction on September 26, reports the UK’s Express newspaper.

“This medical card is a small clue that could be used to easily identify the absconded Lord Lucan, if he was ever found,” Deborah Doyle, from auction house Duke’s of Dorchester, told the publication.

The notes state: “Struck nose on steering wheel of boat columnella profuse bleeding at time.”

The notes have a £150 (approx. $250) estimate, a fair valuation considering a Lucan-signed letter sold for £430 ($700) earlier this year.

So if on your travels you spot a man in his late 70s, with an aristocratic bearing and signs of a once-broken nose, ask him for an autograph.

We’d be delighted to add it to our autographs for sale.


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