March 2002 Report:

Hi RJ, Bruce & Paul,

Below are my latest thoughts on the CGC market.  I think prices are once
again at unsustainable levels and so the report is pretty bearish.  If it's
too pessimistic (re: bad for business) to post, RJ, feel free to pass or make
edits.

The buying opportunity in the CGC market that presented itself at the end of
2001 has largely vanished. It’s not clear what caused the temporary price
declines – post-9/11 uncertainty, seasonal distractions and the recession are
potential causes.

So far in 2002, the CGC market has been going gangbusters, at least for 9.6
and higher graded books (9.4 or better for hard to find issues, such as
Bronze Age Marvel horror titles). I think there are several reasons for the
resurgence: (1) Entry of novice collectors into the market overpaying for
books, (2) Money that used to go into the stock market going to real assets
and consumption items and (3) Spider-Man movie hype. Let me address these
points.

It is clear that there are a lot of new collectors coming into the market, as
well as a growing class of “serial over-payers” – high grade collectors who
chronically overpay for CGC 9.6 white paged and CGC 9.8 copies of popular
books (especially X-Men and Spider-Man). Because of these 2 groups, there has
been more volatility in CGC prices – you never know these days when a book
will trade 50-100% higher than the previous sale price. I see it all the time
now. As for collectors buying CGC books as investments or as luxury
consumption items (however you prefer to classify it), I think it’s because
the CGC market has held up well in comparison to say, the Nasdaq. Many people
have yet to grasp that the CGC market is, well, a market that can go down. I
feel that many CGC books have extremely limited capital appreciation
potential from current price levels. So far, though, collectors’ money keeps
flowing in. Finally, Spider-Man movie hype has bolstered demand for Spidey
books. However, it is important to note that if you think today’s Spidey CGC
prices are ridiculous, they were even more so back in May 2001. Collectors
who paid top dollar back then are likely still not back to breakeven price
levels (remember the Peter Parker #1 CGC 9.8 selling for $760, the Amazing
Spider-Man #121s, #122s and #129s CGC 9.4s selling for $1000+ and 9.6s
selling for $1500-$2100? And let’s not even talk about the Ultimate
Spider-Man #1 white variants). It’s a sobering reminder that it’s not just
the quality of the book that counts, but what the price you pay for it.

My recommendation? Don’t overpay for books unless they’re extremely
difficult to find, “must-have” copies. There are very few books published in
the last 20 years (except for those getting CGC 9.8s, 9.9s and 10.0s) that
fall into that category. Sooner or later people will realize that there are
literally thousands of late Byrne X-Men, ASM 298-300, Ultimate Spider-Man
#1s, etc. that still exist in the NM and NM+ grades. I think for the patient
collector that good buying opportunities like Summer 2001 and December 2001
will present themselves again. Don’t be that poor sap left holding the bag.

Regards,
Gene (eBay member "de-lekkerste")

Thanks for great letter. My feeling  about "Over payers" is that those who have the money are World Class Collectors who generally buy the best stuff. I guess I feel that World Class collectors will be purchasing world class one-of-a-kind items and simply are willing to pay  a dollar more than everyone else. World Class items are often selling at bargain basement prices simply because there is a lack of quality seeking collectors. RJ