Interrupting the three-part post, with some informal thoughts on the buying of “Rusty Riley” original art . . .

Art dealers often promote their wares in language understandably intended to support sales.  Descriptions of Frank Godwin material are not always one-hundred percent error-free.  In view of such facts, a collector, and especially a new collector, might be in need of some guidance on what to look for and what to consider buying.

In the final analysis, the decision to purchase a work of art is a personal one, and it is guided by one’s available funds and one’s taste, as well as by other factors. Nonetheless, I will set forth a few of the things that occur to me when thinking about the original art for Rusty Riley comic strips (mainly daily art).

Please note that these are opinions of mine. It may be that your opinions are different.

To begin with, it may be noted that there are a number of approaches that collectors use when looking for orignal art.  Some like to “wheel and deal,” with purchases being made via combinations of cash and trade.  Others probably prefer buying from dealers in regular retail transactions. Others like to buy via eBay. Others like to buy at other auctions.  Others like various combinations of these (and probably other) methods. This is, I’m sure, not a complete enumeration of the methods of different collectors.

Although it has been a long time since I have acquired any Rusty Riley original art, I have definitely bought other Frank Godwin original art fairly recently. And overall, I am probably most comfortable with eBay as a source of original Frank Godwin art — but mainly when the auction format is used (with bidders competing against each other). If a dealer sets a price, it is always possible that the price will be much higher than the “market value” of the art as measured by recent sales, after factoring-in the goodness of the art and other factors. I realize that it is extremely difficult to say what a fair price (or “market value,” which isn’t necessarily the same thing) is for a piece of original art.

However, when a significant part of the universe of Frank Godwin collectors (or Rusty Riley collectors) has been exposed to a certain price for a specific Rusty Riley daily for a long time on eBay, and the item has remained unsold, then you would be justified in asking yourself whether the price exceeds the price that a collector would normally want to pay for the piece. I assume that not all collectors check eBay frequently, but I suspect that a number do so, and that a number of dealers also do so.

Another point about auctions is that (as with other markets) the market can be rather thin.  You could have five bidders all drop out in the $150 to $200 range, with two bidders continuing to bid an item up to the $800 range.  If later on the buyer decides to sell, the other $800-bidder may be competing against people willing to bid at most $200.  This example is completely hypothetical, and greatly oversimplified, of course.

In my next post, I expect to continue this discussion.

(P.S.:  I expect to continue the discussion, but I do not know when.)

—Tom Sawyer

April 18, 2012

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