2007 Year in Review covering 2006By Roy More, ISCA #0020L
Another year has passed. The saying goes ?time flies?. My mother-in-law pointed out that after awhile it seems time goes by Concorde. Lets look at hobby happenings in 2006 and some thoughts on 2007 and ahead.
More five-figure patches sold than ever before
We did not eclipse the 2005 record price of $71,000 for a single patch but there were more five-figure, i.e., patches priced over $10,000, sold than ever before. Most of these were OA items but not all. There were several collectors who put more than $100,000 into the hobby with one rumored to have put $1,000,000 into their collection. Now the hobby is clearly much more than just about money but these are still significant sums for this hobby. What is wonderful is that the hobby has a broad range available to it for those of limited means as well as those with more available funds.Passings
This will be a common thread going forward. 2006 again saw the passing of several collectors. Two of note were Phil Parlett in the spring and Dick Flock in the late fall both from California.EBay Listings Declined
Ebay has been a significant force in our hobby as well as many others. 2006 though is the first year of a decline in listings in the Boy Scout categories. Ebay has masked the decline by defaulting to ?Worldwide? in its searches. This results in rock-and-roll pins and other miscellaneous items from Australia falling into our category. I have raised this with my TSAM at eBay and they said, ?This is the way it is.? When one looks at US only listings my rough estimate is a 20% decline in daily listings.
I do not know why this has happened. One is clearly the cost of listing and selling on eBay has gotten to the point where eBay may make more than the seller. Our hobby is a prime example of the ?long-tail.? That is, we are a niche hobby. Many of our items are in search of the one collector from an area that is looking for patches from his youth. As such, the items are generally not too expensive, the average is under $20, but they are passionately collected. Still, it can take awhile for a patch to find its home. Listing on eBay has now gotten too expensive for many folks to maintain their eBay stores and yet not have patches bring their value when put up at auction.
Another possible reason is that the ?golden age? may be passing. When eBay came onto the scene at the end of the 1990s, we commented that it would be the ?golden age of collecting? as attics would empty to eBay rather than the city dumps. We may have now had most of that run. Stuff still surfaces but maybe not as frequently.
Another reason, one that is likely but is very distressing, is the flood of fakes and mis-represented patches. We see it in some of the questions people ask. We see it in discussions on Patch-L where collectors are concerned about bidding on eBay for fear of getting stuck with a bad patch. We, TSPA, are working on something to help with this but eBay?s system clearly is not working well in this area. We will have to see how 2007 develops. Many sellers are looking at non-eBay alternatives.
For the rest of the article including category by category reviews, see the upcoming International Scout Collectors Association journal. Go to www.scouttrader.org for membership information.OA First Flaps Continue to Go Up
By our tracking, we saw five number sets break in 2006. We have only identified three who completed their sets. Thus there are fewer number sets than there has been for some time. Also, the sets have been migrating to the east and north. There are now the fewest number sets west of the Mississippi in decades.
I have used a seat-of-the-pants estimate of a number set being worth about $55,000 for a traditional number set. This excludes the 214 Gimogash as there were too few to go around although now some have surfaced. I recently discussed this with Bruce Shelley and Bruce Dordick and realized I have not revisited this estimate in quite some time. My new estimate I realize is now lower at $47,500. This is due to new lodges choosing numbers that had long been dormant. The two most expensive are 219 Calusa and 155 Michikinaqua with 47 Hanigus not far behind.
Where I used to think that the ten most valuable OA numbers were worth half the value, they are now 60% of the value. They have gone up in value along with many of the mid-value items. If it had not been for new names for old numbers, the set would have gone up by 10%. It would have been more if some of the superceded names were still the only patch for a given lodge number as several went down in value.
There were four major OA collections that broke this past year. They all have been very well absorbed by the hobby. Actually there are fewer national issue collections than ever before. By our tracking, there are only two (2) complete first-flap collections in this country at this time. Again, the fewest in years. There are probably ten collectors with ?near-complete? collections, needing fewer than 20. On any given day, or week for that matter, one could not complete a first flap collection if they wanted to. Actually, this is true for a number-set as well.
First flaps continue to be on a tear with more demand than supply. Dave Thomas, Roger Ward and I updated the value of first flaps back in 2002. Those values are now often exceeded.
Last year I predicted that there would be an increase in OA name collecting as the OA National Committee did away with lodge numbers for charters and national correspondence. Other than for first flaps, I have yet to see this really take hold. Still, it is inevitable
NOAC 2006 had more issues than ever before but they had the shortest interest than I can ever recall. ISCA organized and staffed a major museum exhibit that was extremely popular and actually put some of the other National programs to shame. We, us Michiganians, were embarrassed as hosts with the unusually hot and sticky weather. As I mentioned to many though, they were told in advance that they were coming to ?No AC?.
Up and coming areas in are OA: sashes, Terry Grove has recently published his book and Paul Myers has a draft of his book in circulation; other up and coming OA areas are ceremony books, and; membership cards.RWS/KRS Values Increase
Red and white strips continue to have the highest proportion of patches valued over $1,000 for any area of our hobby with over 400 items to collect. This area continues to attract new collectors. What used to be a disregarded area has some very active interest. Even community strips can show strength with values ranging from $3 to more than $60 a piece.
I am now convinced that every council circa the 1940s had a khaki and red half strip for their council. These are nearly un-collectable because a council could have as few as a ?half-order? of 6 patches. Expect continued finds in this area which creates excitement for the collectors in this area.Insignia
Sizzling. Same statement as last year ? can?t find enough quality, vintage items for the demand. There were some offerings from a major collection we had in the spring of Adult Badges of office that were quickly picked up. The Western LA Council auction of Phil?s did well but the vintage material was sold privately prior to the Council acquiring the estate. These items will likely surface but this is not ?new supply? but rather turning over items from one collector to another. Still, this is very healthy for the hobby as it keeps collectors? interest. Patches continue to be more popular than pins but even the vintage collar pins were actively picked up when they surfaced.Merit badges
We started last year with a broad offering of merit badges from the newest to oldest although we were not particularly deep in our teen square merit badge offerings. The surprises were in the post 1940 issues. Many of these have doubled and tripled in prices since Chris Jensen?s guide. Of particular note were the green border, cloth back issues from the 1960s. In reality, some of these were not around for a very long period of time and the supply of mint patches is not all that great. Another group that are sleepers no more are the Supply Division made computer-designed series from the 1990s. This area of collecting continues to be popular as it is very approachable and frankly does not take up much space. Given the questions asked of us, people are even collecting based upon the type of plastic back (white, blue, or ScoutStuff). This seems a little overkill but since they can be gotten this way, it probably makes sense to pick them up.Rank
Eagle: Solid to Hot. Values continue to escalate for all items but particularly the earliest pieces. We have more demand than supply for the rarest eagle items.
Tenderfoot ? Life: Solid but limited interest
Exploring: Limited interest except for highest awards and Air Scouting items for some reason (it was one of the coolest programs for Scouting.) I would have expected an increase in interest with the new Silver Award program but have yet to see it.
Combined Ranks: Sizzling for the lowest positions, e.g., Tenderfoot Bugler Patrol Leader, impossible to find and values could easily be mid-four figures. First Class Patrol Leader patches are relatively common, although compared to TBPL, all are.High Adventure Bases
Philmont: Still very hot. Last year we predicted that there could be trouble here with fakes due to Philmont programs issuing modern rarities. This came true as a set of the Y2K arrowheads surfaced at a TOR in Belgium but are believed to have been sourced from a collector in the US. We will have to see if more sets surface. I have been told they are VERY close to the originals. With the original set selling for upwards of $15,000 it brings the potential for mis-deeds.
Sea Base: Limited interest.
Region 7 and Region 10: Limited interest
Maine Matagammon: Limited interestCamps
Felts: Sizzling to no interest. This area was one of the surprises from the Parlett estate auction as some camp patches went for over $3,000 each. As far as I know, this is a record high for a camp patch that was not also associated with a camp honor society or the OA. There have been camp patches that have sold for $1,000 but very, very few.
Embroidered: 1950s are solid. 1960s to 1970s are surprisingly up although it depends upon the area of the country. Some of the twill cut-edge patches can outsell the felts. 1980s forward ? very selective interest.US National Jamborees
Not much really to report here although there were record prices for shoulder tabs and flashes from the 1935 and 1937 National Jamborees. Many of the 1950s items though are flat to down. More recent jamborees even more so. There is a lot of supply. Council affiliated pieces, JSPs, JCPs, neckerchiefs continue to hold up well though.CSPs
Strong to flat. I know, this is a pretty broad range, but it is reflective of this area of our hobby. First Issue CSPs are increasing in value. But the on-going value of specialty issues can vary widely. Two years ago the Ellis, Jones, Austin An Aid to Collecting Selected CSPs adjusted their valuations for FOS/SME patches by taking the prices out altogether. They found that it is hard to assess the value based upon the contribution level as the contributions are a charitable deduction and may have been made anyway. There is a decline in the number of ?all-issue? collectors as with OA because there are just so many issues. Still these collectors are out there. The contrarian in me, that is collect what others are not, says that we may look back ten years from now and wished we had picked up these CSPs while they were available as current issues.General Projections
We are now coming up to a run of 100th anniversaries in Scouting. This year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of Scouting and a blow-out world jamboree planned in England. 2010 is obviously the 100th of the BSA and 2015 is the 100th of the OA. I predict these milestones will bring many collectors into the hobby. One collector predicted that all of the supply of vintage jamboree patches will be gobbled up come the 2010 National jamboree. I am not sure but I could see it happen. What we will probably also encounter though is National putting out a reproduction set that is likely to cause further confusion in the hobby.
With no state-side national events for the next three years, the Dallas Trade-o-ree will be the only national TOR. This and the regional TORs are more important than ever if we are to continue the interest and passion of collectors that start with eBay. Check out your area shows and bring a friend along.
Up and coming areas to watch: council patches (there has yet to be an update to the Arapaho books by Al Hoogeveen and there needs to be), trail medals and OA neckerchiefs and activity patches.