Obama election victory : a follow-up…

November 10, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

I commented previously on the most desirable issue or issues to have on the November presidential election. My thought being a newspaper from the victor’s hometown and/or a newspaper from Washington, D.C. being among the best. Plus, how desirable are presidential election newspapers in the scope of the historical newspaper hobby?

To most collectors, election reports are desired. But this election was different. More than just another presidential election, history was made. The first African-American will be heading to the White House in January and it’s interesting to speculate on how this makes a 2008 election newspaper more desirable than any previous election report.

It has been interesting following the eBay sales over the past six days. Not surprisingly thousands of newspapers have been listed and many have been sold, including at least one lot of over 600 issues of the Chicago Tribune (sold for $1799). The highest sold prices I’ve noticed have been the New York Times, and being one of the more famous & prestigious newspapers in the world I’m not surprised it would command some attention among bidders. I saw bona fide sale prices for individual issues of $400, $300, $265, $255 and another dozen sales above the $100 mark.  Curiously, the highest Chicago newspaper sale price I noted (Tribune) was for $115. Most of these prices were achieved the day after the election as savvy sellers took advantage of the expected post-election euphoria to achieve what seem to have been the highest prices of the week.

Although I have no statistics upon which to base this thought, I don’t believe past election newspaper sales resulting in so many $100+ final sales. I suspect the added historical appeal this election provided had much to do with both the demand and the prices achieved. We are selling election issues from 2004 for $28 (interesting pair from Florida: see listing) and $50 for the Washington Post.

But how will prices be affected going forward? As is the case with all collectibles, buyer demand will set the mark. The degree to which collectors recognize or appreciate this election as being different from most, and the shear quantity of issues hoarded last week–and which come on to the market over the next ten years–will determine whether prices will languish in the $10 to $25 range or whether $75 might be a typical sale price. Time will tell.

What’s your thought?

The vast majority of Chicago issues and the New York Times sold the past 4 or 5 days seem to be in the $10 to $25 per issue range although there are exceptions at both ends of this range. Looking forward ten years… will they be considered bargain purchases? Again, time will tell. It’s part of the fun of collecting! 

All this being said, please note:  When the potential investment value of a newspaper becomes the primary motivation for purchasing historic newspapers rather than the intangible value of holding history in your hands, the joy of the hobby may well be sacrificed. Keeping true to the hobby, we urge “collecting” and not “investing”.