Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rare but Worthless

It was kind of warm and humid a couple of nights ago, so I started up my window fan, and then I noticed that The Toad - who resides on the same shelf as the fan - looked especially … shiny. It hadn’t been raining (for a change) so the only obvious source of moisture was from within.

Darn it! Looks like someone’s gonna hafta spend some quality time in the fridge between now and July, because I don’t want to change his name to "Horse Parts."

I was on a roll yesterday; I think I found the body I needed for the Happy Endings Contest, and possibly a component of my Costume Ball entry. (Note: it is not footwear.) My coworkers think it’s a fabulous idea, but I’m worried that their affirmations caused some sort of ripple effect in the Universe, meaning I will get picked to volunteer this year.

The one year that I did, I had to sit out on both the NPOD, and a raffle. (Missing that raffle wasn’t too bad, but missing the Pit? Hated it!) Finally coming up with a faboo costume idea, only to have to sit it out? Oh well, best not to think about it unless I have to.

I’m still working my way through the massive pileup on bodies here in the Cave. I’m waffling on a couple of "keepers" here; a couple of obscure variations that are tickling my fancy. Both are technically rare - as in, not made in large quantities, or for an extended period of time - but both are also considered worthless. One of them being this Rugged Lark, here:

He’s one of the early ones without any mold marks. In pretty good shape, too, just a couple of slight nose rubs. I had been thinking about adding one to my collection for the past few years, if for no other reason that I think rare and unwanted things need to be collected, too.

I never got around to him before now, because mold marks aren't the easiest feature to detect in an online auction. Even when a seller says it isn’t there, it usually is, because the mark is different from the typical Breyer mold marks: instead of the familiar copyright horseshoe, it’s a small flat area with a bit of type, often fainted molded. Easy to miss? Yes, very.

Finding one in a less-virtual venue wasn’t any easier. Nothing marks you for more of an amateur at BreyerFest than flipping a horse over to inspect the mold marks. Telling a seller I’m looking for something else, really, often gets me the rolled eyes and the what-an-idiot look. And if the seller knows who I am, sometimes I’ll get the what-did-I-miss look and the dreadful feeling that price negotiations aren’t going to go very far.

The "rare, but worthless" phenomenon occurs in just about every arena of collecting. When I was still active in comic book collecting, I used to obsess over the minutiae in the Overstreet Guide. (It’s mostly a price guide for vintage comics, but there’s a lot of history in it too, once you learn how to "read" it.)

Anyway, as I’d be plowing through my Overstreet, I’d see the notation of "Very Rare - Less than 10 copies known to exist" from time to time. I’d look at the estimated values, and often as not, there’d be no correlation. There were some genuinely rare, virtually extinct comic books out there that nobody wanted. That would always blow my mind.

The reason for that was simple: the content of those comics was undistinguished. The inherent value of most comics is not a function of rarity, but of significance: the first appearance of a major character or team, the first work of a well-known creator, the first printing of an important or award-winning story. A generic, random issue of Action Comics from the mid-1940s with a low print run is worth a lot in Pristine Mint condition, but nowhere near the same amount of money as even the lowest grades of a copy of Action Comics #1 - the first appearance of Superman.

For a while there, I thought about starting an archive of "rare and worthless" comic books, but before that idea ever got off the ground, the horses dragged me back into their world. But the notion of collecting the rare, but worthless still lingers.


Anonymous said...

My Rugged Lark has very well-defined mold marks, but they're not the typical ones. They look like an off-center 9 7^. Are these the mold marks you're talking about? They're raised instead of stamped into the plastic.

ANDREA said...

Those marks are from the 1997 rerelease.

I'm just talking about the (C) Breyer Reeves mark.

Karen Lloyd's Nature Heart Studio said...

My Rugged Lark has a very vague (C) Breyer Reeves mark...almost couldn't find it, very faint in the plastic (yay for flashlights!)

I am curious much do the bi-colored eyes make him worth? From what I understand he was only released like that for approx 6 months. My model has the brown irises painted on and I've always wondered if it makes him more valuable or just "rare and worthless" :)