My Favorite Apple

How do I know what it’s worth?

Written By: Scott

How do I know what an Apple collectible is worth?

I’m a fourth generation auctioneer, so I believe something is worth what a buyer will pay, but in a static sale (non-competitive bid environment, like an auction) that becomes an issue.

There are sites across the web that are non-auction sites, Craig’s List and dealers’ websites, where the seller sticks a price on it hoping someone will come along and pay it. Those can be more difficult and require some homework to know you aren’t overpaying.

The best way to get a feel for what an Apple collectible is worth is to go spend some time on eBay. eBay provides us recent sales to use as comps. Then we simply have to drill down whether it sold by the Buy It Now or through the bidding process. Buy It Now sales do give us an idea of what a buyer was willing to pay, but they are not always a real indicators of true value. The reason is this- the buyer may have wanted it really badly and was willing to pay whatever just to get it. Whereas, the auction bidding process gives a better feel. Yes, the winning bidder may have been willing to buy it at all costs, but at least we know the second highest bidder was there supporting the valuation.

Apple mugsIf you are just starting out and trying to get a feel for value for Apple mugs, for example. Go to eBay and search completed sales. Again, you must take all factors into consideration, including condition, but it will provide you the best measure. There can be many factors that come into play, so just be aware. Things like high or low shipping costs, excellent or poor descriptions and seller’s feedback/reputation too.

Even considering all these factors, eBay is the Kelly Blue Book of Apple collectibles. Dealers usually have an idea of what they think they can sell an item for, but be careful because many of them know we Apple collectors will pay top dollar for what we want and because of this many stick big prices on their items, but again, using eBay will help gauge values.

Macintosh Picasso Lamp Many Apple collectibles are rare, so they don’t come up for sale often. These items can be extremely difficult to figure their value. In the end, it comes down to how badly you want it and how much you can afford to pay.

I have several Apple collectibles I know I overpaid for, and I knew it at the time I bought it. Does it hurt a little looking back? Yes, but I made the decision to get it and I don’t want to play Monday morning quarterback against myself.

If you run on a collectible you want and it’s on a dealer’s site or eBay’s Buy It Now, my suggestion is to back off for a little while. Giving yourself time to make sure you aren’t simply impulse buying and can justify its price is a healthy practice. Yes, you run the risk of someone else slipping in and grabbing it, I know. But impulse buying is not how you want to decide what to buy and how much to pay.

Understand too, Apple collectibles don’t have an established benchmark for value, like used cars do. There may be no completed eBay sales. There may not even be other eBay auctions still running to give you an idea, so in those cases, if your pocket book can handle it, then go for it. If not, then you have a decision to make. If I know the item is rare, then I may make an offer, if the auction has that feature, or I may just Buy It Now if the price isn’t way too high. If the Apple collectible isn’t all that rare, then I’ll probably just watch the sale and see what happens so I can gauge the next time one when it comes along.

1st Gen iPodAfter watching eBay for a while (months/years) you will eventually know what is truly rare and what is just being hyped as rare. My suggestion is to have several categories you are watching so you can start to learn the market for a given item.

In the end though it comes down to buying what you want and at a price you are satisfied with, whether you overpay or not.

A side note here: I usually watch eBay auctions of collectibles I already have to help me stay up with their values and to give me a feel for how many are out there and how often they come up for sale.

The overall best advice is to give yourself time to become educated, especially if the collectibles you want are pricey.