Monday, May 12, 2008

What's It Really Worth?

I frequently receive emails from readers that request my services as an appraiser of sorts. Many equate my knowledge and experience in matters Disney with an expertise in the valuation of Mouse-based memorabilia and collectibles. When I confess to being generally clueless in these dollars and cents determinations, I am usually met with reactions of surprise and astonishment. Similarly, when guests visit my home with its many rooms that literally overflow with Disney related items of every size, shape and description, inevitably the same question seems to always be raised at some point--"Wow, what is all of this worth?"

It is a question that has never really concerned me.

I can honestly say that I have never purchased or obtained a Disney-related item strictly on the basis of its investment potential. I certainly enjoy collecting numerous types of Disneyana--theme park souvenirs are a personal favorite, especially license plates--but never with a future monetary return in mind. My motivation for obtaining such things was and is the simple joy of possessing items I personally find fun and interesting. But also, these items represent my many passions, and even more importantly, many happy memories associated with those passions.

Wise, wise words on the subject can be found in one of my all-time favorite comic book stories, The Money Pit, released in 1990. It is an Uncle Scrooge story, and interestingly enough, it is Scrooge who dispenses said wisdom to a more greedy minded Donald Duck. When Donald attempts to negotiate payment of his meager wages in the form of rare coins buried within Scrooge's Money Bin, he invites a passionate response from Scrooge that reveals a somewhat unexpected dynamic of his uncle's perceived greediness--

Donald pointedly notes:

"Those coins aren't doing you any good, and some coin collector will appreciate them!"

To which Scrooge replies:

"That's precisely where you're wrong, nephew!"

"Coin collectors make me sick! They collect their coins only because other people put a value on them! They look their old coins up in price guides that the tell them the fool things are worth more than face value! But why?! They don't enjoy their coins! They don't dive in them like porpoises! . . . or burrow through them like gophers! . . . or toss 'em up and let 'em hit them on the head! They don't even build model forts out of 'em!

"They put their coins in plastic sleeves and are even afraid to touch them for fear they'll be worth less to somebody else! Hee hee! They spend their lives building a meaningless collection they only plan to someday sell . . . to a buyer who only plans to resell it! It's all so silly!"

Donald retorts:

"I suppose your three-acre coin collection is sane?"

To which Scrooge responds:

"The difference is that I value each and every coin as a personal memento! Nephew, I've learned to treasure that which has value to me, not to somebody else! That's what life's all about!"

Scrooge's pointed message came via well known Disney comic book scribe and artist Don Rosa. Though the story specifically targeted coin collectors, it was but a thinly veiled reference to comic book collecting (putting them in plastic sleeves and afraid to touch them) where enjoyment of a comic book's content became secondary to its collectible status and value. But the message could certainly be applied to any such medium, including Disneyana.


tericson said...

I treat my collections exactly the same way. My most favorite 1966 Disneyland souvenir map is full of pin holes on it's corners from being posted up on my walls - either in my bedroom when I was young, or in one of my offices for the past 25 years!

Doc Terminus said...

I always wonder what will be the paradigm shift that'll turn my collection from something I keep to something I sell... It just doesn't seem reasonable at this time...

One thing is for sure.. 2719 Hyperion is priceless...

Doc Terminus said...

Curious.. the check bounced.

Cory Gross said...

We had this same sort of discussion during my museums degree... The "Antiques Roadshow" effect where people come in and look at the contents of a museum not for their historical, aesthetic, natural or technological value, but for their economic return... It could be a painting, a classic car, or a dinosaur skeleton. The refrain is the same "I wonder what it's worth?"

Often followed by "They paid WHAT for it?!" and angry letters to the editor about taxpayer money.

But I better stop here before I start getting into a dissertation on the corporate consumer capitalism that transforms all relations into economic transactions ^_^