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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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May 2007 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
Inquiring Minds
By Sharon McLellan
 

Our customers are constantly asking us questions about collecting literature. Answering those questions is more than just a service we provide. It is gratifying to be recognized for our 47 years of experience. Keep us from getting bored by e-mailing or calling us. I thought it would be interesting for you to read a typical "Question & Answer" session between a new customer and Rob.

 

Questions

Hi Sharon: I have some questions for you and/or Rob.

How do you place a value on your collection -- not that I wish to sell as I've only been collecting Studebaker Literature for a year or so -- but as I get better quality material from you and other vendors its value will surely increase?

Should I make a note that brochure "X" cost me US$35 or is the value really what you and I agree upon should I be selling my collection to you?

What should I be collecting? I collect magazine ads, brochures/catalogs, postcards, and models such as Hot Wheels, though literature is my favorite. This relates to the sheer volume of stuff available - I started off grabbing as many old ads as possible, the oldest being a newspaper cutout from around 1885. Not all are in top condition which I accepted as the latest Studebaker item is now 41 years old. I see some eBay antique dealers that sell ads for say $20-40 which I thought was excessive, but after studying your site, now wonder if I should go for those instead as their value would be better in future? Quality over quantity???

Packard material has good investment potential due to rarity doesn't it?

I hope these questions aren't a nuisance to you, but having read Rob's articles this morning, I can see a collection being akin to a share portfolio, quality items will gradually increase in value over time, and wish to proceed the correct way.

J. C. - Australia

 
 

Answers

Hi J. C.: Hopefully I can satisfactorily answer some of your questions.

Putting a value on your collection for resale (when sold as individual items) or for insurance purposes is straightforward. Use our website as a guide. But if you want to sell it in bulk to a dealer it will only fetch about 20% of retail as they want it cheap so as to make a profit. Bulk to a fellow collector can go from 50% retail to more than 100%. After all, you did all the work of collecting it and, if he wants exactly what you have, full retail is a bargain. The important thing, as you note, is the long term investment and it will increase in value if everything remains in the same condition as you purchased it. Of course it would be difficult for you to determine what your literature would have been worth 10 years ago but, on the average, it at least doubles and certain brochures now sell for 10 time what we priced them at 10 years ago. Studebaker of the 1950s and 1960s has definitely doubled in the past 10 years and it sells well. Yes, keep a record of what you purchase — date and price.

Brochures are a much better value for their price than magazines and ads. The latter two have not increased much in price over the last 20 years and both have limited collectability. The people who sell ads seem to think they are competing with brochures, but ads are too plentiful and the cheap paper fades and tears. We don't sell ads and only a limited amount of magazines. Postcards from dealerships are popular and follow the brochure market in value. Models are nice, but we really have not gotten involved with them for resale, though I have some in my own collection. We have a few under our memorabilia section, but only because they came with literature collections.

Yes, Packard literature is an even better investment than Studebaker, although I personally prefer post-WWII Studebaker to post-WWII Packard. Packard is very popular and the older the better. The impressive, large and expensive, catalogs sell quickly and are hard to find in good condition.

I hope this helps.

Robert

 
 

Questions

Hi Robert: At the risk of doing the wrong thing (as it's not your site), is this 1909 Packard hard cover sales brochure what you had in mind in regard to the earlier the better and large and impressive catalogs?

It's listed on an eBay shop:
Item number: 320029619606 - 1909 Packard El Toro hardcover book sales brochure - Cuba.

Apart from this could you point me towards one of your Packard brochures / catalogs that would be good for a start.

I'm also a little confused with the items that say "has heavy (light) wear"; therefore, the price is reduced. Example :

 1935   (Item #B34151)  - STUDEBAKER, The President: A Studebaker Champion

Does the reduced price and the wear and tear imply that this type of item should be avoided as it won't increase in value much, or really just what you might expect from a 72 year old well used catalog?

I'm also wondering whether it'd be better to add to my Studebaker/Packard collection with some of those $15-$40 or so items (both in the general and Dealer Items categories) from the '60s or go for something like the 1909 Packard brochure - I could probably go to US$200.

My Packard collection currently consists of ads and some postcards (original factory and dealer) that I have won on eBay, so I'm starting that from scratch.

Advice appreciated.

J. C.

 
 

Answers

Hi J. C.: I find the really early Packard brochures to be very impressive and my preference is always for pre-WWII. But that is because I spent a lot of time enjoying prewar cars as they were the only collectable cars back in the 1950s. Remember that, as you go back into the 1930s and earlier, only the more famous makers will be remembered by current day collectors. Packard, of course, is one of those so collecting anything for any year will be a good choice.

Whenever we put "significant handling" or such descriptions on catalogs such as the 1935 Studebaker catalog, we simply want the buyer to recognize that there are problems. Not all dealers admit to damage. Some don't even believe that anything old can be in good condition and pass off such literature as being "normal wear". I have found brochures all the way back before 1900 that have been beautifully preserved. Don't pay full price for damaged goods. That is why we note condition when less than excellent and adjust prices. "Excellent" condition to us means anything from like new to used but without marks, stains, tears, folds, etc. Most collectors accept neat dealer stamps. We either point them out or show them in our photos. Some collectors are rather fanatical about condition, while others could not care less. We aim toward the fanatical side and greatly appreciate those who want the best possible quality. We cater to them because few other dealers do. And by doing so we have more sales and lots of repeat business. Still, there is always someone who says, "Do you have on in poorer condition that is cheaper?" Remember, some want quantity while others want quality. Some just need something to help them in doing a restoration.

First, buy what you enjoy. Investment is secondary and a bonus. I tend to collect everything that I can find on a make or model, no matter whether it is a minor or prestigious item. All of my collections have later been sold at a profit — sometimes for unbelievable amounts — Ferrari, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Jaguar, Maserati, Pierce-Arrow, Locomobile, etc.

Robert

 
Do you have questions? We will do our best to guide you around the pitfalls of collecting to help you reach your goals.
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, May 2007
 
 
 
 
 
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