Something I'm asked about frequently pertains to matchbook cover prices and if I've ever seen a matchbook collectors price guide. The good news is that I've not only heard of one, I own the only price guide that I'm aware of in the hobby. The bad news is that the prices in the guide are out to lunch. However, if you are looking for a great reference guide to help you with your matchbook collection, I highly recommend Bill Retskin's The Matchbook Collector's Price Guide. He does an outstanding job of providing background information on all of the major collecting categories in the hobby. Just don't pay attention to the prices. He did the best that he could with the prices, but they all come from Rathkamp Matchcover Society (RMS) Auctions back in the 1980's. Of course this was really the only way to get a handle on matchbook cover prices because back in those days, the only ones buying and selling matchcovers were collectors themselves.
There Is No Definitive Matchcover Price Guide
The sad fact is there is no rating agency and no definitive matchbook collectors price guide available, be it in print format or available for download. This is something the phillumenist, or matchcover collector, has had to deal with since the start of the hobby. So how does one go about answering the age old question - "Are old matchbooks worth anything"? Well, in my case, I always turn to eBay to help determine the value. Now, I know I just said that Bill's Matchbook Collectors Price Guide that is based on RMS auctions is out to lunch. Auctions are certainly not the best way to determine value of a particular item, including matchbooks, because at any given time, there could be someone out there that will stop at nothing to get a particular matchcover for whatever reason. It's my feeling that eBay auctions are a valid place to help give you a general idea of what a matchcover is worth - especially when you look over the long term. Sure, there is going to be an auction that skews the numbers from time to time. No question about it. But the eBay marketplace is vast enough where you'll be able to get a good idea of what you should be able to fetch for a cover from your collection. I don't recommend using eBay for attempting to value an entire collection, however, as the "collections" you see on eBay vary widely in both quality and quantity.
In my opinion, the very best way to determine what the market will pay for your matchcovers, or if you are a dealer, what the going price for a particular category of matchcovers, is to utilize the Terapeak data collection service. eBay is the biggest marketplace for matchcovers and Terapeak provides all the data you could ever ask for based on that marketplace.
Is There A Matchbook Collectors Price Guide For Entire Collections?
As is the case with single matchbook covers, there is no matchbook collectors price guide for an entire matchbook collection, either. It would simply be impossible to determine value for an entire matchbook collection. There are far too many variables in play. Condition and categories that have been collected in the matchbook collection will play a huge role in determining overall value. Other collectors have it made in the shade when it comes to determining value. But I kind of like the mystery that surrounds matchbook cover collections. What fun can there be in looking through a comic book collectors price guide to determine value? Unless of course you own a fist edition of a Superman comic book, that is!
No Matchbook Collectors Price Guide? How Can I Determine The Value Of My Matchbook Collection?
As I've said in other articles, this isn't a cut and dried situation. There is no definitive way to determine value. But as I just mentioned above, I like going to eBay to help me when it comes to finding out what a particular cover may fetch in a sale. eBay not only is a great place for single covers, but you can also find some incredible matchbook cover collections for sale there as well if you are looking to buy. The key to using eBay to get an idea of the value of a particular matchbook cover is to look at data over a period of time. Looking at the past few days of data won't give you a big enough picture. Using a service such as Terapeak will give you all the information that you'll need to get a pretty good idea of what your particular matchcover, or if you have the time, your entire collection may be worth. Just keep in mind that it's not a definitive method due to those auctions that end up having people bid that will pay whatever the price is to acquire the antique matchbook cover they have been seeking for years.
As a general rule, if you have matchbook covers from the following categories, you have matchbook covers that are going to be worth more than an average matchcover:
- Feature Matchbooks
- Girlie Matchbooks (Pin Ups, Images & Photos)
- Group 1 - Sports, Souvenirs, Actors, Radio Stars, Personalities
- Old Manumarks
- Early To Mid 1900's Sports
- Navy Ships
- CCC Camps
- Trucking Companies
- Coca Cola
- Pepsi Cola
- Drive In Movie Theaters
- Early to Mid 1900's Beer