Amazing Kids! Magazine

Determining the Value of your Collectibles

By Ryan Traynor, Editor-in-Chief


I remember when I was younger, pouring over my collectible cards and finding joy in their value, not only for their power during card game play, but for their increasing value over time. I would pull my parents into the card game stores and plead my case to them about how the specialty cards go up in value, so the price for the cards would never be wasted. I could always get my money back later when I sold them to someone else.

Now, many years later, my collectible cards sit in nicely lined boxes in the garage, collecting dust. Over the summer my mom suggested I sell the cards, to get a little extra money for the movies, video games, or maybe even my college fund. With dollar signs in my eyes, I decided to look into this possibility.

Here are the steps necessary to determine the value of your collectibles:

  1. Define the major types of collectibles you have. This can be figurines, cards, playing pieces, board pieces, etc. Depending on the category of collectible, there are different methods of selling them. There are card stores, online sales sites, online trading places like Craig’s List, self-selling at garage sales and consignment stores, and more.
  2. Complete an online search of your item. Here are some major search categories: Lego, Yu-Gi-Oh, Digimon, Pokemon, Magic, My Little Pony, Star Wars, Matchbox Cars, Hotwheels, Thomas the Tank Engine, sports cards (baseball, football). Search by putting “Yu-Gi-Oh cards for sale” or something like that for your type of collectible in the search box on your computer.
  3. Review some of the sites. Make a list of the things they use to determine the value of the collectible and how they are categorized. As an example, a Pokemon card will be rated based upon: (a)The rarity (Common, Uncommon, Rare, Ultra Rare, Promo, 1st Edition, Shadowless, etc.), (b) if it is holographic (Holographic~the card is only shiny on the picture or, reverse holographic~the card is shiny all around the card, or not at all), (c) the condition (Used, Near Mint, Mint), the set number/set name (Ex. Jungle #4/64).
  4. Using the ways the websites grade the items for sale, make a list of the items you have and their characteristics. This can be quite extensive so it will be important to determine the information necessary to determine a value. Also, group them by sets. For instance, in Pokemon, a set is identified by a small symbol that is either in the bottom right corner of the Pokemon illustration (old sets), or on the bottom right (new sets). You might group all Flashfire together, etc.
  5. Then, using a spreadsheet, make a list of everything you have with all the details required. Take a picture of each item as well.
  6. You then need to determine a strategy for selling. Some collectibles sell best by grouping them by sets, some by singles. Research this by each type of collectible. Organize your cards and other items and determine whether to sell them by singles, completed sets, or random lots (with 1-2 rare cards with 8-10 regular common/uncommon cards). Spending the time on this help you make more money when you sell. Remember that sometimes you can put together various combinations of items that, sold as a combination, will sell more than individually.
  7. Once you have decided what and how you are selling your items, research different sites for prices they are selling for.
  8. Place your items up for sale. You’ll need a full description. You can find examples on the selling websites or ebay. You may choose the selling site you are most comfortable with – ebay, amazon, or other selling sites.
  9. You need to wait and check back regularly. You will either get an email from the website telling you they want to buy your items, or you need to wait until your postings on selling websites are completed.
  10. Some items will sell, some won’t. This is why you can’t count on the money right away. With auctions, you’ll want to start the auction at a low price and let multiple potential buyers bid each other up. However, you never can tell what the auction will sell for. There is also a chance it will sell for the very low starting price. Also, when you figure out how much you’ll get for your collectibles, you’ll need to deduct your shipping costs unless you are having them pay for the shipping. You’ll also need to take into account selling fees from the avenue you are using. To use amazon or ebay, they charge a selling fee – usually a set fee plus a percentage. If you sell to a dealer on a website, they will give you the ultimate price for the lot of your collectibles.

A couple of important points:

  • Make sure your items are authentic. You can find online or at a collectible store the ways to determine this by type of collectible. For cards this can be typeface of the printing, feel of the card, or picture. For figurines and pieces, this can be the manufacturer trademark on the bottom of the item.
  • When researching the values, really think about if you want to sell them now. Prices can fluctuate a lot in even a few weeks based upon the demand for the item.
  • Until you sell, store your items in a safe place. This may mean putting all your cards in sleeves or your figurines in their original box with Styrofoam packing. Original boxes add value to figurines, matchbox cars, and many other collectible items. Keep them clean. Bent, chipped, missing pieces or dirty items will seriously decrease the price you will get for the item.
  • Keep all certificates of authenticity with your items in a safe place. This will add value when it comes time to sell.
  • When sold, ship your collectibles with a lot of packing cushion. You also may want to track the delivery of the item to make sure the buyer receives it. If your buyer doesn’t receive the item in one piece, they will not pay or you’ll need to refund them the money they have already paid.

So get those collectibles out of the boxes and sell them if you’re not using them. You’ll be able to use the money for the movies, video games, or your college fund, like me.  Remember, if your items have any emotional value, they may be worth more to you than anyone else. Keep them in a safe place for later so they can bring a smile to your face. Sometimes this is more valuable than money in the bank.