Thursday, March 22, 2012

Record Prices for Holmes Basic

     Earlier this week an Ebay auction by the Collector's Trove for a Holmes Basic set in shrinkwrap ended at $315, with four bidders driving the price from $50 to $315. Believe it or not, this is not even the highest price a shrinked Holmes set has sold for. Here's are the four highest sale prices in my records:

1) SW 1st print (F115-R code, Lizard Logo) - owned by Brian Blume - ~$500 - GenCon 2009
2) SW 3rd print (Lizard Logo) - owned by Gygax - $331.05 - Jun 2011
3) SW 7th? print (Wizard Logo) - Collector's Trove personal auction - $315 - Mar 2012
4) SW 4th+ print (Wizard Logo) - owned by Gygax - $308.25 - Mar 2011 

     #2-4 were all auctioned by the Collector's Trove, with #2 and 4 being part of the Gygax collection, and these naturally went for much higher prices than normal due to celebrity and charity factors (in common with all of the Gygax collection items). #3 is surprising because it's simply from the Collector Trove's personal collection, but he may have benefited from the exposure from running so many Gygax and other TSR employee auctions. #1 was bought by one of the Acaeum's premier collectors (stratochamp) in the annual GenCon auction, and he knew exactly what he was paying for. 1st print Holmes sets are rare to begin with, and are very rare in shrinkwrap, and #1 was also from the collection of Brian Blume. #1 is also interesting in that it has a blank box bottom. Normally the 1st print has a printed picture on the box bottom, but a few copies have been found with the blank bottom, so #1 confirms that they were actually sold this way (rather than being a later "Frankenstein"). Generally with 1970's TSR products the blank box bottom preceded the printed box bottom, so it's possible this version is a "true 1st" print. There's been some speculation (see this thread) that this version was sold at Gen Con in Aug 1977; but I actually haven't even seen any hard proof that the Holmes Set was actually for sale there or by that time (as opposed to Sep or Oct '77). Also, it could just indicate a shortage of printed box bottoms.

"true?" 1st print Holmes Basic box top - not in shrinkwrap - sold on the Acaeum last fall
"true?" 1st print Holmes set box bottom
   I'm neutral with regard to the high prices. I'd never pay these prices myself, but I don't mind if someone else does. They also don't astound me after perusing the Acaeum forums for years and seeing how much collector's are willing pay for various rarities. And I'm glad that some of the shrinked copies are being preserved. There were probably 500,000 to 1 million of the Holmes sets produced and there are usually ~10 on Ebay at any given time for $10-$20, so it's not like the handful of shrinkwrapped sets is keeping anyone from getting a copy. It's kind of a tribute to the Holmes set that it's now valued enough to command that much money. Also, I would caution that the later print shrinked sets are more common than the most recent price would indicate. The Collector's Trove apparently sent out some second chance offers after the auction, suggesting he had multiple copies. Also some one immediately put one up on Ebay this week with a "bargain" price of $300 after seeing the final price for the Collector's Trove auction and it hasn't sold yet.


  1. People should be ashamed of themselves.

    1. The buyers? For bidding so much? I can't fault folks for paying a few hundred for a game when other folks are paying hundreds of thousands for comic books, and millions for fine art.

  2. Stuff like this probably explains why I haven't been able to find a reasonably priced copy of the Blue Box in some time. I'm looking to replace my rather beat up old copy with something a bit more presentable, but even poor copies of it are going for much more than I can justify paying. Alas and alack.

    1. I don't these shrinked prices have affected the usual Basic Set prices very much. I just looked at Ebay Completed Auctions, and counted 12 sets that sold for between $10-$25. Most of these were for sets with B2 - only one was for one with B1 (the version I believe you are looking for?). I counted about 7 that sold from $30-$35 with B1 included. This is a bit higher than in the past. I also found one shrinked set that recently sold for $55 - a much more usual price & in line with the Acaeum valuations.