August 10, 2011

Price history details improved

I recently changed a page on my web site to better report price history. You can find the page by locating any certificate of interest in the database. Then, simply click on any price estimate:

and a small new page will open.

That new page will show a summary of all recorded sales over periods of one, three, ten and twenty years.

This example shows a summary prices recorded for the well-known Blue Ridge Railroad bond from South Carolina. You can see that I have recorded sales for this certificate that have ranged from a low of $47 to a high of $125 during the last year. (Both were eBay sales) The average of all recorded sales was $96.

You can see that sale prices fell to as low as $8 in the last twenty years, probably representing a multi-item auction lot. Since that low price is older than ten years, you can surmise that it was an auction lot that predated eBay. (In fact, that price came from an old Smythe sale.)

You will also notice that one collector paid an extraordinarily high price ($256) between three and ten years ago. That price reflects a sale that took place in Germany. That high price included a 20% commission, further magnified by a period of extreme weakness of the U.S. dollar relative to the Euro.

My current price estimate is $75 to $100 and I last "touched" the price about four months ago. That means that I expect to that future sales will be about $75 to $100 whenever another Blue Ridge bond in average condition sells in the United States in a well-attended live auction.

Remember, I am offering a single price estimate, even though there are many separate markets. Each market displays different price behaviors.

For instance, if a sale of a Blue Ridge Railroad bond takes place in a well-attended, live German auction, I'd expect the sale price to be about 50 to 100 percent higher than my estimate. If a sale takes place on eBay, I'd imagine prices will be 25 to 40 percent lower than my estimate. If purchased from American dealers, prices for Blue Ridge bonds are likely to range from my lower estimate to maybe 25 percent above my high estimate. Prices for collectible certificates are highly flexible.

The point of showing this information is to let you see current trends in every certificate variety I record. Beware, however, that only about 7 percent (!) of all certificate varieties appear for public sale in any given year. While probably twice that many varieties appear for sale in shows and dealer offerings, there is no reliable method for collecting those prices. If individual collectors don't report their non-auction purchases, I never learn about them.

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