How Much Is My Game Worth?
The Museum does not maintain current market values for games. Market values of games depend upon a combination of
many factors, such as:
- What is the current market for this item - is the game a sought after collectable? This will depend upon how many copies were
manufactured, how many were sold, how many have survived, and how many people are now trying to buy a copy. Normally, the older and rarer
a game is - the more valuable it becomes to collectors.
- What is the physical condition of this item - is the game used or in mint condition? Mint means that the box has
never been opened, and may be covered with cellophane or shrink wrap. If it is used, are all of the pieces, instructions, rules, etc.
in the box? Is the game in "good" condition - that is although a box may have some split corners or creases, and colors are slightly
faded - in general the object is complete and very presentable. "Poor" condition would mean that the game is compromised in some
fashion - the box had been crushed at sometime, or suffered water damage or mold, or part of the gameboard is peeling and flaking,
parts are missing, a previous owner has disfigured the box or board, etc. However, physical condition and completeness may become
less important in conjunction with desirability and age.
- What is the real age of the item - not the copyright date? In some countries, manufactured games are copyrighted in a fashion
similar to printed publications. Unless there is a major revision to the game, repeated production copies of a game continue to carry
the same copyright date as the original production version. If there is a major revision to a game, the original version is considered
a "first edition", and subsequent versions will become second or third editions, and so on. A subsequent edition of a game will carry
the original copyright date and also the date or dates of the newer editions. Thus, for example, you may have a
Monopoly set that has
1936 printed on it, but it might be from a production run in 1943 or later - and consequently is not an "original" edition.
Unfortunately, game manufacturers in the early years did not realize that their games might become highly desirable collectables,
and so they weren't too careful about dating their productions. It is unusual to find a "reprint date" on a game box. Thus, the value
of an older game with respect to "edition" always depends upon collector demand.
Some collectors are not interested in
the fact that an item is a game, but rather in a period graphic found only in a specific edition of
that game or that game concerns a specific subject matter - such as a long
forgotten television program..
- What if an item has unique components (or components that are deemed special by collectors), or a game is a
prototype prior to mass production, the collector market is somewhat different
for these rather than for mass market games.
In the case of a "prototype" that was destined to become a "best-seller"
commercially manufactured game (for example - a prototype Scrabble set), then this game would be a highly desirable item.
It's value would depend upon how much any specific collector would be willing to pay for this individual item.
- What if the item is a one of a kind handmade ethnographic object, the market may be a museum, or a private collector who is
particularly interested in specific cultures. This is a rather a small market, and value again will depend upon how much a collector is
willing to pay for the object.
Some reference books for collectors are:
Bruce Whitehill, Games: American Boxed Games and their Makers, 1822-1992 - with Values, Radnor, PA: Wallace-Homestead, 1992, ISBN: 0-87069-583-5.
Lee Dennis, Antique American Games 1840-1940, Radnor, PA: Wallace-Homestead Book Company, 1991 ISBN: 0-87069-630-0
Desi Scarpone, Board Games - with Price Guide, Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 1995, ISBN: 0-88740-725-0.
Last update June 28, 2010