Sunday, November 25, 2007

more of Whiteneck on Rinker

In the previous post, we began to relate Peggy Whiteneck's thoughts on the Nov. '07 interview with Harry Rinker. Whiteneck is "Discover Mid-America"'s Good Eye columnist. Peggy continues...

Having said that, I always find his writings (Rinker's) provocative food for thought...I'm paying particular attention to your interview to his comments on collector books and price guides. As an author of one of those myself ("Collecting Lladro," 2nd ed., Krause 2003), the issue of value assignment is always an area of great struggle for me. I find that I viscerally disagree with Rinker's tendency to maek eBay the price arbiter in the market. Although I recognize the self-interest in that (as a collector myself who doesn't want to see the value of her collection undercut by the bargain basement mentality of eBay,) I also think it makes little sense for the rest of the trade to look to eBay for its value structure. Otherwise, on-the-ground businesses might just as well shutter up and deal online. I do think there's room in the market to price above eBay – if only because some of the better-heeled customers are not trawling eBay looking for their collectibles. But I don take his basic point, which is that the "high end" prices in the guides are misleading in their own way and have to "get real," whatever yardstick they may use for doing so. And I do think that dealers in the trade are mistaken when they price to the guides, as it is also quite true that most collectors will not purchase at guide prices as long as they can find the same items in mint condition elsewhere for a lot less. Availability (Rinker's 'scarcity' factor) is, therefore, one of the most significant factors in defining value, and I'm not sure this isn't somewhat different from scarcity per se: an item may be relatively common in one area of the country but relatively scarce in another. And the less available an item is in the area where a collector lives, the more likely a collector is to pay a premium to get it.

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