Around the end of January I put my Atari 2600 collection up for sale at a minimum bid of $5,000 and within a few weeks I had sold it to Marc Oberhauser, a German collector, for $6,550. Marc paid a total of $7,256, the difference being for shipping. The collection consisted of just over 500 carts, with around 480 different titles (there was some overlap--for example, Infiltrate blue and Infiltrate brown). Importantly, over 330 of the games were boxed. The collection included many rarities such as Cubicolor, Crazy Climber, Malagai, Rescue Terra I, Glib, Wall Defender, and so on. Many of these rarities were boxed.
A number of people have asked why I decided to sell. Well, my reasons were remarkably similar to the reasons Sean Kelly offered when he shook the video world by selling his 2600 collection a number of years ago. First, the collection just sat there. I never played the games and collecting had stagnated because I had about all I was going to get. I can't afford to buy the mega rares and, since I've moved away from an urban area, I have less opportunity to find things to trade for them. Secondly, the 2600 doesn't hold a great deal of nostalgia for me. I only had a 2600 for eight months in 1982 before moving up to a 5200 and a ColecoVision. My CV and 5200 collections, both of which are virtually complete, have much more nostalgic value for me, and I doubt I'll ever part with them, at least for any reasonable price. Finally, I received a pretty good chunk of cash for the collection, I can use the money, and now seemed like a pretty good time to sell. Maybe the carts will be worth even more in five years--it's very hard to tell with these things--but prices seem awfully high right now.
I learned quite a bit through the process of selling my collection and think it might be best if I passed on a few points to my fellow collectors:
1) Whether you are selling one rare cart or an entire collection, be cautious about accepting "advice" on the value of your stuff from any individual who has an interest in buying or trading for your stuff. Most of the people I dealt with were perfectly straightforward, but a few were not. I received several e-mails from people taunting me that I'd never get $5,000; one anonymous writer, who apparently fashioned himself an expert, said I'd be lucky to get $4,000. In fact, there were at least three people willing to pay more than my $5,000 minimum.
2) Try to get a sense of the value of what you have from an "independent" expert. At one point, I would have sold at $5,000 or even $4,500 ("close enough to my minimum bid," so my reasoning went). But fortunately a kind and disinterested expert on the DP staff (you know who you are Sean) stepped in and told me not to be an idiot--what I had was worth much more. Fortunately, I listened.
3) You can probably get more by auctioning things off than by selling all at once. What you have to remember, though, is that your time is worth something. It would have taken me months to conduct several auctions and I've got a life to run. It's possible to find people to run auctions for you, but you've got to get the material to them, obviously they deserve a commission, and it still takes months to get things settled.
4) When dealing with ERs, it is getting to the point where the boxes are worth more than the cart itself, as strange as that may sound. When I was dabbling with the idea of selling cart by cart, I was offered a reasonable $30 for a particular loose game, but $150 for the same game boxed. I was shocked.
5) Patience. Again, whether you have one cart or many, it is difficult to know just when to sell. Maybe I could have gotten somewhat more for my collection, I'll never know for sure. But don't make a move until you feel that enough time has passed and word has gotten around about what you have to offer.
I'm not an "expert" just because I sold my collection, and I never have paid much attention to these internet auctions. But the above represents some of the things I learned.
Postscript: I announced the sale of my collection in one of the videogame newsgroups on the internet and offered to send my collection list to any interested party. Smaller level collectors mainly think the sale was a great deal for me. Larger scale collectors seem to think it was a great deal for Marc. What cracks me up is that some people have offered opinions who have NEVER SEEN THE LIST of what was sold! Hate to sound harsh, but that's just plain stupid.
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Last updated Tuesday, February 13, 2007 06:01 PM