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Crazy Prices for Obama Victory Papers

by ThomPattie (11/11/08).

November 5 was a very special day for the United States of America. When Barack Obama was declared the next president of the United States, hot collectibles were the next morning’s newspaper. Across the country, the demand for the Nov. 5 edition of the newspaper, any newspaper, was astronomical.

The Chicago Tribune, Obama’s hometown paper, went into overdrive. “To keep up with the incredible demand,” said Michael Dizon, the Tribunes’ communications manager, “an additional 410,000 copies—almost double our normal circulation for a Wednesday—were printed.”

Obama’s hometown Chicago Tribune/strong>

“Additionally, we will print an eight-page supplement and a Sunday special edition featuring Chicago Tribune covers of President-elect Obama’s career in Chicago,” Dizon added. The Tribune will also produce about 5,000 posters and 2,000 commemorative metal plates of the front page of the newspaper, all of which are available in its online store for purchase.

Other papers printed additional copies

This was not out of the ordinary. The venerable Washington Post also published an additional 350,000 copies, Detroit’s two daily newspapers reprinted a combined 110,000 copies, The New York Times sold an additional 75,000 copies, and USA Today will continue to sell reprints of its Nov. 5 edition. All the newspapers can be bought individually online or at their newspaper offices for the regular newsstand prices.

Washington Post records the moment (left), New York Times: one word said it all (right)

What has proved out of the ordinary is the extended life Obama newspaper collectibles have taken to the point that news stories are appearing about this phenomenon.

A recent check eBay showed 5,417 different auctions of the Nov. 5 Obama election newspapers from around the country in blocks of 10 to 100, individually, or in series of several different newspapers.

I’ve been monitoring the Buy It Now prices at the top level starting at $9,900 for 100 Chicago Tribunes to one seller who is touting a “how they sold a $400 Obama newspaper on eBay and how you can, too” telephone seminar for a Buy It Now price of $500 (that includes a copy of New York Times Nov. 5 edition).

I’ve even talked to a fellow collector/dealer who is aware of someone who bought that edition of the Times, he thinks, for $2,500. Several times over the past few days, a Nov 5 edition has sold for several hundred dollars or more.

There is an excitement now surrounding these collectibles. Will paying these stratospheric prices translate into a sound long-term investment? History doesn’t suggest so.

The German newspaper, Gild, weighs in

More reasonable folks are buying a Nov 5 newspaper for $5 to $20 each. That should be the norm. Every dealer I talked to agreed. As the number of commemorative or special editions increases, the collector value down the road will not ever reach beyond the $2-to-(possibly)$10 range. None of the JFK assassination newspapers or magazines (except for a very limited few), for example, have ever attained any values higher than that.

As the inauguration of a new president approaches, there will be additional special editions and commemorative printings of national and local newspapers. The biddings will again be unrealistically high. All experts agree, including me, that you should buy the newspaper as a family keepsake, but pay only the newsstand price, if possible, or no more than $5, if necessary. The long-term-collectibles value will not ever be much higher if history is correct.

Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal

I urge everyone to be cognizant of collector value during special events such as this one. As time goes on and the initial euphoria fades, all manner of campaign collectibles will become available at much lower cost.

Does that mean the newspaper shouldn’t be collected? Absolutely not. Collectibility doesn’t have to be for monetary value only. Passing down historical newspapers through generations is a great way to learn American history firsthand. We are all fascinated by the ads alone showing the cost of items generations ago, for example.

Day-after Denver Post

But, preserve it correctly. Keep a complete newspaper in a clean, dry, acid-free environment away from fluctuations of heat and cold. That means wrapping the newspaper in acid-free paper, placing it in an acid-free box and placing the box in a closet or storage unit that faces toward the inside of the house, not against a wall that faces the outside. When taking it out, try to limit its exposure to all direct sunlight or any light for a long period of time.

Frame correctly

If you want to frame the front page, be sure to place the newspaper on an acid-free backing and behind an acid-free mat. It should never touch the glass directly. If you use UV glass, it will also help to keep damaging light from fading the newspaper over time. Place the frame away from direct sunlight or near a window and always on a wall facing inside, not one that faces outside.

To relive important events in your lifetime through a newspaper is a great way for future generations to learn what was important to you and to the country. After all, sentimental value is collectible, too.

By Tom Carrier, WorthPoint Worthologist, specializes in flags and political memorabilia

WorthPoint—Get the Most from Your Antiques & Collectibles

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