Collector's Madness

My friend Al Stevens wrote a very nice blog this past week (Saturday, Dec 8th) about collecting and comparison between the ultimate Tenor Saxophone and the ventriloquist figure. For the most part I am in total agreement with Al but did want to expound on a couple things
The Selmer Tenor Sax Mark VI is without question the holy grail for the Sax player and prior to the existence of eBay this Sax could fetch upwards of $20,000.00 for a prime example. At that same time frame a Marshall figure sold for around $2500.00. We are talking about the mid 1980’s for a time reference. Another comparison can be made between the John D’Angelico Guitar and a Marshall figure. In the mid 1980s you could purchase a D’Angelico New Yorker jazz guitar, also considered a holy grail, for around $6000.00 or the Marshall figure for $2500.00. The reason why I wanted to also show the guitar is significant.
The Selmer Sax was a mass produced instrument albeit being hand finished. The D’Angelico guitar was a totally hand crafted instrument. The Marshall ventriloquist figure was hand crafted as well. Now I will get to my point. With the advent of eBay the availability of certain items became readily available. One of them is the Selmer Tenor Sax Mark VI. At any time, on eBay, you can find a Selmer Mark VI, and because of that, the price of one has dropped remarkably from the 20K to under half that price.

Even though it is still without question the sax every pro player wants the price is much more acceptable and affordable, especially with the drop in price and the value difference of the dollar from the 1980’s to now. The D’Angelico guitar went from a price of $6000.00 to over 30K for a great example. Why?? Because they were hand built and very few are available for purchase. There have been only 2 D’Angelico’s listed on eBay as far as I know in the past year. The price for a Marshall has gone from $2500 to ?????depending on the model. Why? Because they were limited in production, even though Marshall was prolific, and again they are very rare on eBay. You can count on your hand how many have been on eBay in the past 5 years.
EBay is a great vehicle for sure for both buying and selling but eBay has devalued many items that before eBay’s existence sold for quite a bit more money. If you were to obtain a Warman’s Antique Price Guide from the 1980’s you would find that an original 1930’s Effanbee Charlie McCarthy listed for around $800.00.  Today on eBay they are listed almost all the time and you can purchase one for around $150.00 in very nice condition. Ebay made it very easy for everyone to list items that before were near impossible to find and caused prices in general in the antique market to fall. Those items that are unique, or hand built, will always command high prices without question and collectors will always pay a premium for a great example.
I said I agreed with Al and I do as far as new items are concerned. There are many new saxophones or guitars that play very close to the holy grails and the same goes for ventriloquist figures. There are many fine examples out there today that will fill any performers’ bill and do the exact same job but…….there is nothing like the old vent figure, sax, or guitar!!!

Click here for Al Steven’s Blog…



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One Response to Collector's Madness

  1. Al Stevens says:

    Dan, you got that backwards. Prior to ebay, a Mark VI tenor saxophone was an affordable horn for a player. You could get a playable one in reasonable condition for $2500 or less in the mid-1980s. Remember, the model was in production from 1954 until 1974. There were many “pristine” Mark Vis in the mid-1980s. The later ones hadn’t gotten that much wear by then.

    Today, prices are triple that amount for the later models. Ones like mine that are made in the 1950s can fetch up to $10,000 at a dealer. The only ones that top that today are the very few that are closet horns with original lacquer in pristine condition.

    Many of the desireable looking Mark Vis on ebay today are scams, which is why the prices seem low. You pays your money, you never sees your horn. Savvy buyers can spot a scam right away, so only the unwary get taken in.

    Also, all Selmer Paris saxophones are hand made. They made a lot of them, which might qualify them as being “mass produced,” but they made and still make them all by hand. Lots of specialty tools are involved, but every step involves a skilled craftsman. You can watch it here.

    And we thought building ventriloquist dummies was complicated.

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