Monday, May 3, 2010

Overpriced Souvenir Buildings

I've written about many building replicas which have sold for high prices, but lately there seems to be a number of widely-overpriced souvenirs on eBay. Prices always go up or down depending on supply and demand. Other factors in price can include include rarity, collecting passion and the general economy. Sometime, however, the seller may believe or hope an item is worth more than it is. What is described as a vintage 5.5 inch long PAX flying lion paperweight souvenir has a starting price of $999. Really? Where did this price come from? Reader Howie G. sent me a few high-priced auctions he found. The owner of a possible one-of-a-kind replica of Tavern on the Green Restaurant building began the auction at $1,000. Described as a "Once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of history from the world famous restaurant in Central Park, N.Y. This is an authentic scale model / replica is made of wood. This replica of the restaurant building was located for years (until they closed) as a decoration in the window of the Tavern on the Green upstairs bar that overlooked the restaurant's main entrance foyer/host desk. This item is truly a one of a kind piece of New York City Memorabilia and a great opportunity for any collector of rare items. The building model is in excellent condition and the design really captures the character and charm of the famed Tavern on the Green restaurant. The size is 40 inches wide by 28 inches deep by 20 inches high. This is perfect for a museum, an avid collector of NYC memorabilia, a private owner for decoration." In another auction, the artist and maker of a handcrafted architectural model of the World Trade Center is asking for $9,999.99. The plexiglass and basswood replica stands 12" X 16" X 28" and was "appraised on March 3, 2005 at $10,000 by Chicago Appraisers Association." The most surprising auction must be the 3-inch-tall cast metal souvenir thermometer of the Washington Monument. As building collectors know, this is an extremely common item, but the seller had a buy-it-now price of $235. These prices may be the result of what I call the 'Antique Roadshow syndrome.' This occurs when viewers of this popular TV show see high priced appraisals and they get the false sense that everything is valuable. I'm sure antique dealers are tired of people showing up in their shop with junk and expecting to leave with $100,000 of cold cash in their hand. Or maybe the sellers of these souvenir replica buildings are optimistic and will attain their price. What do you think?

1 comment:

Brad Scalio said...

I like the "SOM presentation piece of a stylized CN Tower" listed on Ebay for Buy-it-Now of $300 when in fact, it is a 1990s computer lathed Munich TV Tower.

That said, I did just get a mint condition Traveller's Insurance for $449 (it was missing the ink well lid but I got it recast and now it is complete).

This "syndrome" is also apparent with my favorite, TV Towers. Recently people have been listing starting prices for such towers at $80 to $125 each and for rather common replicas.

Ebay is in the midst of what happend to the US housing market ... speculation leading to over-pricing which will eventually lead to a recoil.

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