The Misconceptions of Determining Value

"It's not worth anything if you're not selling it."

"In order to determine the value you need to auction it."

"This type of misprint is worth 1.5 times the normal value of the card"

I'm going to do my best to not make this a rant, but statements like this are a huge pet peeve of mine.  They are not true and they are continually offered as advice to people who are looking for estimates and information about their misprints.

It turns out that people have been thinking and talking about the concept of value for a very long time.  I'm not an economist, but there's some pretty intriguing Wikipedia entries which you can check out here and here.  To avoid getting into a theoretical or philosophical debate on the concept of value, I'll just use the dictionary.com definition:

 From dictionary.com.  Edited to remove non-relevant definition #1 from image.

From dictionary.com.  Edited to remove non-relevant definition #1 from image.

Statements that suggest that a misprint has no value unless it is being sold are entirely contradictory to the very definition of the word.  Value is a representation of potential.  It's equally dependent on the willingness of the buyer to pay a specific price as it is for a seller to sell for a specific price.  A lot of times an auction is actually a really poor way to determine the value of an object.  Sometimes an auction goes unnoticed and an item goes for less than it would had it proper visibility.  Other times there can be a bidding war which can escalate way past the historical market price for an item due to stubborn competitiveness.  Black and white representations of market value and supply vs demand are sound theories, but the reality we live in is covered in greys.  I really like the following paragraph from the wikipedia article:


Note that economic value is not the same as market price, nor is economic value the same thing as market value. If a consumer is willing to buy a good, it implies that the customer places a higher value on the good than the market price. The difference between the value to the consumer and the market price is called "consumer surplus"[1]. It is easy to see situations where the actual value is considerably larger than the market price: purchase of drinking water is one example.


If you've read my article about determining the value of misprints you already know that there are several factors to consider when appraising a misprint.  The ability to accurately appraise misprints is something that requires experience, skill, and dedicated and continual observation of the market.  Applying standard multipliers to types of misprints is an exercise in futility for all of the reasons and definitions of value mentioned above.

Misprint economics aside, using one of the three quotes mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, or any variation is simply a dick move.  People are requesting information.  A lot of the time their intent is to sell and they're looking to be informed about the product in which they're trying to sell so they can feel that they're making good decisions.  Throwing flawed and generic responses at them is not only unhelpful, but can also pressure people into making bad decisions.  It's bad...just don't do it.  No, really.  Please stop.  If you don't agree, feel free to leave a comment here explaining why or send me an email!