The Value of Patches

Gene Cobb posted his thoughts on collecting and the value of patches in a posting to Patch-L and has graciously agreed to allow me to reprint them here.  Here it is in his own words, one collector’s/trader’s/seller’s thoughts:

I vowed never to send an email comment to Patch-L as I realize that my opinion really doesn’t amount to much. In the military we have a saying, Ladies please forgive me, opinions are like your rectum, everybody hopefully has one. We just usually don’t say it that nicely.

Collectors such as Bill Topkis, Jeff Morley, Paul Myers, Sam Fairchild, Lyn Horne, and sellers such as Roy More, Destry, Roger Ward, Chris Jensen, Doug Bearce, Conley Williams, and Johnny Pleasants have forgotten more than I will ever learn about the hobby. Again please understand that this is just my two-bits. Don’t attack me for my opinion.

1.) There are different levels of collectors.

A.) The money is no object collector.

B.) The money is an object collectors.

C.) The poor boy that struggles to make a living.

I am way down on the bottom of category C.

2.) Likewise the major sellers are classified with the same levels. Again, my Ebay Store is in the “C” level.
3.) $3-$10 OA Flaps are pretty much very stable at $3-10 dollars. I specialize in the $3-10 market and always have. I am a one for one trader at heart. I still walk to my rural type box and feel great excitement when I receive those packages of flaps. It is like Christmas everyday.

My Ebay Store (The Scout Patch Network) sales are great as the cheap flap market which has long been beneath the Big Boy sellers is great. Most people in the hobby collect low cost flaps. Very few collectors pay high dollars for the rare items. I am talking percentage of collectors here.
4.) Prior to Ebay, there were around 6-8 sellers that sent hard copy sells in the mail. The only way to pick up items from a seller was these list and at Tors. Go back to my three levels of collectors and realize that category B and C only have a set amount of money to spend on patches each month. The arrival of a sales list by itself could cause the majority of the monthly money spent on patches to be sucked up by that one dealer. Again, there was only so much money that was going to be spent, so some items could be picked up cheaper than the going rate as some items may only get the minimum bid I hope this makes sense to you.
5.) My feeding frenzy theory: At one time there were five major Louisiana collectors that collected any and everything from Louisiana. There was a competition to get all of the items first. We would all go to the Dallas Tor and other Tors and hurriedly go to as many tables as possible before the other Louisiana collectors did to purchase as many needs as we could before the other guys saw them. But guess what happened, the people selling patches at the tables were smart enough to realize that these Louisiana sharks are after all the Louisiana fresh meat that we can sell them so we can raise the prices and they will buy them and pay a high price just to beat the other Louisiana collectors to the patch. The prices just continued to increase and we just continued to pay them.
6.) Another example: A collector decided to collect First Flaps. This collector again became a shark after bloody meat another case of a feeding frenzy. Guess what happened then? Sellers realized that the buyer was hungry and started raising their prices. I know of First Flap collectors that took flaps out of their collector, raised the price 40% and sold them to the shark that had to have the First Flaps and had to have them as soon as possible. The seller thought was hey I will make 40% profit at a minimum and take a chance on getting the same patch at a lower price. This in many instances has happened.
7.) Then the First Flap values were reestablished. The shark in the feeding frenzy paid $1000 for a 166 F1 so guess what, the 166 F1 is worth $1000. Then maybe 1-5 166 F1s sold for $1000 as all sellers said hey, Seller A sold it to Buyer A for $1000 then it has to be worth $1000. But, after the five people purchased the 166 F1 for $1000 there was no one left who was willing to pay $1000 for the 166 F1. So now all of the sellers have them priced for $1000 and none of them are selling. This is the old term supply and demand. Is the 166 F1 now worth $1000??? They may have previously sold for $1000 but now everyone willing to pay that amount has the flap. Now sellers have them listed at $1000 and they are not selling. Now the sellers have a choice, maintain the $1000 price and not sell them or lower the prices to sell them.
8.) To complicate the problem even more. Ebay has in the past twelve years made sellers out of everyone that has the time to list them on Ebay It still tickles me when you see someone state that they are not dealers and their feedback is 2000. Selling one patch makes you a seller. Ebay is flooded with items that again we only saw on 6-8 quarterly hard copy sales and at Tors. Now I attend a TOR everyday at anytime that I want to. It is called Ebay. I was trading at the 2006 Noac and can’t tell you how many young scouter’s were talking among themselves about not being able to wait to get home to list the items on Ebay.
9.) To complicate the hobby even more several huge collections have been placed on the sellers block in the past year. I have seen emails that stated that their were three Balugas in a room at the same time and also three 272 F1s. Go back to my example of the 166F1. I want a mint one but do you honestly think that I will pay $1000 for it???? There may be 4-5 on the market now and I may be the only person that wants it. I can pay $1000 for it if I am a hungry shark or I can wait around and get it a lot cheaper than that. It might remind you of the new automobile market.
10.) John Pannell has put together a great web-site (Internet guide to OA Insignia) which I would suggest to John that he consider raising the subscription rate for adults but not youth. This site is worth much more than $10 per year John. This site is nothing short of fantastic as a resource. However many collectors have the thought that if a patch is listed on this site as selling for $3.99 then by God it is worth $3.99. This actually means in most cases that if you notice the minimum bid was 3.99 and no one else bid on it. So is it worth $3.99????????? Also some of the more rare item prices are likely not accurate and then many are. Always remember that price guides are a guide for your use and may not be the exact value.
11.) Collectors, it is a buyers market out there right now. You the buyer must make the decision as to when to purchase and the price you pay. The supply is high at the present.

I could go on and on but as an old country boy from the back wood sticks I just wanted to send my observations. Please don’t try to convert me or attack me for giving my view of what supply and demand means. If I can be of help with your collecting interest please contact me at gene.cobb@nullatt.net.

I think Gene’s thoughts echo mine in a number of areas.  What has softened the most is the $20-40 issues which probably seemed artificially scarce 15-20 years ago due to little opportunity to acquire them.

Gene Berman has often said it is not the winner of the auction that sets the new value, but the second and third highest bidder.  As each person picks up their ‘got to have’ item, the value drops to the folk whose pockets aren’t as deep.  Eventually a new support level is reached.

So what is your take?



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Few people can see genius in someone who has offended them.
Robertson Davies
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