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Rhetorical scenario... a fellow has a set of vintage Lionel trains (no track or transformer, all original boxes with no tears or missing flaps) on epay, shipping is very reasonable, the cars look nice, as does the loco, wheels show only minimal mileage (or maybe he cleaned them).  So, and this might be where the problem lies considering the wide range of opinion on Greenbergs price guide, buy you look up every car and loco, add up the suggested prices, and you find the fellow on epay is selling about 250 below, less than half of  what Greenberg's suggest.  Why does this not sell like hotcakes?

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I think Greenberg's mint prices aren't that far off for some rarer items, especially the newer ones (IMHO).  Admittedly I don't go to many swap meets or train shows being in Houston, so I don't get to see as much train stuff as I would like.

One thing to use in your investigation is to see what recent selling prices for an item was on eBay.  I've used that info when making offers to eBay sellers.  Of course, sometimes someone gets something for dirt cheap and they just want to get rid of it for a quick buck.

@NJCJOE posted:

Greenberg's price guides are not accurate. They always seem to have higher prices than the current market. Use them for a rarity guide but not for true values.

IMO all price guides are way high compared to street prices and should only be used for insurance purposes and to point out if an item is rare.  I used to collect coins and those guides were just as askew. 

Perhaps because it is an undesirable set, even if it appears to be a financial bargain. There are lots of trains I see at train shows that are priced well below market price but which I don't want. The first example that comes to mind train cars decorated for NFL or MLB teams. If you don't like the teams, you probably don't care that they are 30-50% off.

@NJCJOE posted:

Even the sold item prices on Ebay are suspect anymore with shill bidding. Can't trust any source anymore.

I would agree with you, but only for the most ridiculously priced items and they are quite obvious.

To frame this in my opinion most things on eBay are priced too high.  I don't buy much as a result.  But in general they aren't priced ridiculously high.

Therefore shills are not a widespread problem on eBay and are easily spotted when they exist.


@Dwayne B posted:

Don't forget to add the e-bay fees,tax and shipping.  Seems to me once you do that the price guides are pretty close most of the time.

Only Tax and Shipping are added to the winning bid on eBay eBay takes about 15% from the final sale price from the seller. They don't add a fee on top of the high bid.  I have kept a spread sheet on my collection for over 20 years and at no time could I get book value if sold piece by piece let alone if sold as a collection.  But that's not my problem that will be my daughters problem.  Tax and shipping are NOT factored into the prices in price guides. Tax and Shipping would be over and above the prices in the guides.  If they were correct to begin with.    EBay's Sold price feature has without intent become the best guide of what an item is worth.           j

For something I actually want, one-half of the Greenbergs price would seem like a good deal most of the time. But there could be several reasons not to buy it.

  1. "Shipping is very reasonable" - for one potential buyer, perhaps. But for another, who lives on the other coast, or the other side of the Mississippi, it could be a very different story. Particularly for a large item, such as a set, shipping a long distance can turn a good deal into a marginal one. So, even though the listing has nationwide exposure, realistically, the pool of potential bidders is limited to a smaller geographic area. And the lower the asking price, the worse you feel about paying that big shipping charge.
  2. There is no guarantee that the buyer will pack the item to survive shipping. There is no guarantee that the shipping company will not abuse the package. Getting your money back is cold comfort. Better if I can transport it myself.
  3. An embarrassment of riches: there are so many trains available at good prices that it can be hard to pull the trigger. Maybe an even better one is just around the corner!
  4. The set may be nice, but common. I might prefer to wait and see if I can come across one at a show, where I can see it in person, and perhaps haggle a bit.
  5. There are fewer set collectors than there once were. I am not one of them. I will generally buy a set if it is more economical than buying its components individually, or if I like the box art. In many sets, the components are common and the box is nondescript. Only the outfit number and the other paper are unique. It appears to me that it is getting to be an exclusive fraternity who are the buyers for that sort of thing.
  6. The item is listed with a reserve. I don't even bother. I suspect most buyers are the same.
  7. June is not train season for many. With so much to do outside, I rarely glance at ebay. Fewer eyes are seeing the listing now, compared to the fall or winter.
Last edited by nickaix

Price guides are of little use, always out of date and there is no way to determine prices as the market is too big, or too small or to diverse.  Ebay prices are generally high as they often represent many bids for one item and that favors the seller.  The best prices are found from uniformed sellers.  Uniformed sellers often have pie in sky prices also.  The best prices are from desperate sellers and a not have to have buyer.

Why would I not buy?  Too many answers to post.


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