Recently I had read a lengthy article in the paper dealing with the sudden collapse of value of collectibles. Things like baseball cards, Department 56, dolls and other various sorts of commercial dross.

The article wasn't interesting for having reported this loss of value, but it was the interviews with the collectors. Shocked that their dreadful kitsch had lost value, they had plenty of villains to point a finger at. Ebay had undercut the entire market. The manufacturer had oversold the product, or maybe it was greedy dealers.

What hadn't occurred to either the interviewees, or apparently, the reporter, was that anyone buying collectibles from the manufacturer in the expectation of an increase in value has been taken for a ride. Now, it is true that some people like collecting these trite trinkets. There is nothing wrong with that. And there are some collectibles that are old and rare that do have an expectation of increase in value. Here we are talking Magic: The Gathering, Franklin Mint, Beanie Babies and the like.

Manufactures, or at least ones that survive for any length of time, simply do not sell their products for less than they are worth or even less that their expected value (interest and inflation included). If a hummel or Wade Boggs card were really worth more than its retail price any prudent manufacturer would simply charge more for that item.

Maybe, indirectly Ebay did hasten the end of the modern collectible market. EBay is an efficient market, and, as such, things tend to quickly settle down to accurate valuations.

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