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A Word About Collecting is one of the first sites of its kind to focus on collecting paintball markers. But what is paintball collecting all about? Generally the people who collect old markers do so out of the love of the sport, the nostalgia the old markers bring, and the history that they capture. Very few collect solely for monetary reasons, as the market still isn’t soundly established, nor has it proved to be a lucrative way to make money.

Since the whole field of marker collecting is new, lists some tips in collecting.

What makes it collectable?
There are several things that make a marker collectable. Among them are: age, rarity, popularity, and condition.

Generally speaking, the older a market is, the more collectable it potentially becomes. Markers still currently made and used today are often passed by collectors. Older markers have more time to become lost or damaged, making their number in good condition scarcer. Many collectors like the older markers for this reason, as well as nostalgia and for the preservation of history. As they become harder to find, they become more desirable, which brings us to rarity.

Rarity is how common or uncommon a marker is. The lower the supply to meet a demand, the higher the price (a basic theory of economics). Rarity can be caused by two things: 1) the original number was low; 2) the number of markers in circulation is kept low by collectors’ hording. When only a very few of an item is ever produced, it will most likely remain collectable. Items that are horded may fluctuate more as markers are released back into circulation. This is often seen on Ebay when a seller has say a dozen of a desirable marker to sell. The seller may get $100 for the first 3 or 4, but that price may be reduced by $25-$50 for the last 3 or 4 as the flux of availability drives the price down.

The popularity of a marker gauges how desirable it is to a group of collectors. Certain makers, such as the Line Si Bushmaster, were produced in large qualities, making them rather common. But they are a popular marker to collect and own, thus brining a better price than similar markers. Popularity can also add a premium to the price in some case, as there will be fans of certain makers duking it out over a particular item. Still, other markers get sort of an aura of collectability that make them very popular and sought after, such as the Grey Ghost or Desert Duck.

Condition is probably the most important thing when determining the desirability of being collectable. Generally, the nicer the condition of the marker, the more one is willing to pay. A good conditioned marker could cause more collectors to be interested in an item, bringing a premium price. Below is an outline of how to judge the condition of a marker, and how to price it against what is considered the fair market value (FMV).

Mint/NIB – 110-125% of FMV - Mint/NIB means the marker appears to have never been fired. The marker has no wear marks. If the item came in a box (NIB), that too will bring a premium. The box’s condition and the inclusion of manuals will affect the price.

Near Mint – 90-100% of FMV – Near Mint is a very high grade of marker. It has only very minor wear from being played with a few times, or from test firings in a store. There should only be very minor wear marks and virtually no other scratches. The marker should be in working order with functional seals.

Fine – 75% of FMV – Fine is a marker that has had use, but is in other wise good shape. Wear marks are readily seen, and some scratches may be evident. Still, over all it is a great looking example of the marker. Seals may require minor work (such as oring or cup seal replacement), but the marker should be in working condition.

Good – 60% of FMV – Good is a marker that has seen a lot of use and is fairly beat up. Wear marks and scratches are easily seen as well as minor dings. The marker may require some repair, but still be in sound enough shape to work once repaired. Field rentals that are well looked after are often in this condition.

Fair – 40% of FMV – Fair is a marker that is in even worse shape than Good. There should be many flaws, both cosmetic and operational. While it should be able to be repaired, it may require some custom work to get it back up and running. Tolerances will be loose and the action will have some slop to it. Still, it should be functional when all is said and done with it.

Poor – 20% of FMV – Poor describes something commonly known as an “old beater”. Odds are the anodizing or paint is heavily worn, or perhaps bead blasted off. Parts may be broken or missing. Generally a marker in this condition is used for parts, though it could be restored to its former glory.

How do I know the “Fair Market Value”?

Fair Market Value (FMV) is the average price asked for and given for a specific item. Many factors determine this, including those listed above, as well as regional fluctuations. Since the advent of the Internet, prices are now more on a national scale, versus prices primarily regionally influenced.

In other areas of collecting, price guides are abound and full of information. However, since this is a young area of collecting, simply put there aren’t enough traders and dealers to help establish such a price guide. Instead, one must canvas the Internet for classifieds forums and Ebay to see what items are commonly sold for. Ebay is a great resource for this, as it shows what people are willing to pay for an item. At the same time, it should not be taken as gospel, as prices may be inflated due to an over zealous buyer, or deflated due to a poorly visible listing.

Figuring out the FMV is something that comes with experience. Eventually you learn that Marker X often brings around Y dollars. Posting your wares on the VintageRex forum is a good place to get opinions on what your marker is worth.

But remember, no matter what a marker went for in the past, or what you feel the FMV is, a marker is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.

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