Publications On Antiques And Collectibles Still Matter In The Digital Age

September 15, 2023

Some people look forward to the summer months for warm weather and to be able to spend time at the beach. I'm more of a fan of the autumn and winter months, but I look forward to the summer months because comic book collectors like myself are christened with the yearly Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. The guide, which is sometimes called the "Bible" by those in the comic book collecting community, first premiered in November 1970 when Robert M. Overstreet saw a need for a yearly price guide to be produced that catered to the comic book collecting community. Back then, comic book collecting was still in its infancy, and some of the most popular comic book characters had not even been created at the time of its release. The first appearance of Wolverine, The Punisher, and even the Swamp Thing would all make their debut years after the first appearance of the very first guide book. Yes, it can be said that the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide is older than some of Marvel Comics' most popular characters (looking at you Wolverine, Venom, and the Punisher). This is one of the many reasons that comic books from the 1970s and later are on average much more plentiful than their earlier counterparts. People have been saving and preserving comic books for many decades, and in the modern era it is now a common practice. Some would go as far to say that we have the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide to thank for the fact that so many comic book collectors exist today. Over the years, the guide had experimented with several different formats and content changes, but the core of the publication was always to serve as a price guide for most mainstream comic books. The guide was considered vital during the late 1980s and early 1990s when contemporary comic books experienced a massive speculator boom that coincided with the premiere of Tim Burton's 1989 "Batman" movie, based on the comic book of the same name. In 1994, Overstreet made the controversial decision to sell his business to Gemstone Publishing. He did, however, stay on as the author, which elicited sighs of relief from fans and enthusiasts alike, who had long respected his ability to set values within the guide fairly and accurately. Today, the internet has started to replace a lot of the yearly pricing publications in the trade. Most collectors and dealers turn to the internet to find current and accurate pricing information for the items they choose to collect. Visit any bookstore, and you can see this trend in action. The shelf space devoted to books on antiques and collectibles has been shrinking year after year. Still, the mainstay guides that make up the trade like Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide and the yearly Official Redbook Guide to United States Coins are still going strong. Most of these price guides have added excellent market commentary by insiders in the trade to make the information they provide remain relevant. Obviously in the internet era with the advent of 24/7 online auctions, pricing changes at the speed of light. It is in this capacity where the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide really shines. Every edition of this publication features multiple pages of commentary from some of the top dealers, collectors, and auction houses that make up the trade. And while some of this information can be considered biased due to it being written by enthusiasts in the trade, a lot of it is valuable to the hardcore collector, especially if he or she is considering spending four figures or more on a comic book. There is no denying that the internet has played a major role in the transformation of almost every aspect of our lives. The antiques and collectibles trade was one of the very first markets to be transformed by it. Real time pricing data alone has transformed how buyers and sellers economically respond to collecting markets. That said, even in the year 2023, physical paper bound price guides and books devoted to antiques and collectibles serve a purpose. Auction houses know this all too well, as even today, physical auction catalogs are still a thing, and some serve as resources and reminders as to the wide range of antiques and collectibles that are readily available to bid on 24 hours a day, thanks to the rise of online auction houses. As someone who has always been considered a realist, I just hope that some of my friends in the trade who are considered to be optimists are right: one day more physical publications devoted to the antiques and collectibles trade will grace the bookshelves at your favorite book retailer. Speaking as a realist, I must caution, the transformation of the internet era still is far from complete. Embrace your favorite publications in the antiques and collectibles trade, my friends, because nothing is ever guaranteed. And thank you for choosing to read this. Until next time. Shawn Surmick has been an avid collector since the age of 12. He currently resides in his hometown of Boyertown, Pa., and is a passionate collector of antiques and collectibles. His articles focus on various topics affecting the marketplace.


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