|Collecting: An extreme example from "philately"|
Message #1 Posted by Karl Schneider on 12 Nov 2006, 2:53 a.m.
One of the paradoxes of collecting is that certain items are very valuable owing to rarity deriving from a scarce original supply. This scarcity is sometimes due to the item's being undesirable in its day, or just plain defective.
The highest price I paid for any single calculator in my collection is the US$225 for an HP-10C in great condition with manual. I have criticized the poorly-conceived functionality of this model several times in this Forum. The market of the 1980's apparently felt the same way: The HP-10C was made for only two years (1982-84), while all four other Voyager-series models were made at least until 1989, when the series was replaced by the Pioneer-series models.
Examples of HP calculators that are valuable due to flaws are the original HP-35 with math bug, and the earliest HP-41C's.
But these are hardly extreme examples. In 1918, four sheets of a two-color 24-cent US Airmail stamp featuring a Curtiss Jenny biplane were fed through the press backwards for application of the second color. The error was caught; three sheets were destroyed, while one sheet found its way to the public. This misprinted "Inverted Jenny" stamp is perhaps the most valuable US stamp, and philatelists (stamp collectors) have been trying for years to gather up as many as possible. An uncancelled one may fetch US$200,000 at auction.
One of these stamps may have been used as postage for a mail-in Florida ballot in the recent elections. By law, however, the ballot will remain locked in a box for a while.
Consider it: A fifth of a million dollars for a bit of paper whose defining characterisitc was a simple printing error! (The mistake was one like anyone would make when preparing a two-sided printout on a printer that did not feature automatic duplexing.) It sure makes one wonder -- Who's got all this discretionary cash? Why is this item so coveted? And just what is the visceral appeal of owning something that few if any other people have?
Edited: 12 Nov 2006, 3:13 a.m.