Tuesday, January 20, 2009

All that Obama memorabilia will be worth a ton… in about 200 years.

Jan. 20, 2009
Posted by Noah

First of all, this is a strictly non-partisan, non-ideological blog, got it? Okay…

Given the amount of coinage, history and presidential-related ephemera we get around here – and that’s a good thing – it’s not a surprise that several media outlets have turned to our resident experts for opinions of the current influx of Barrack Obama related memorabilia that has absolutely flooded the market since his election in November. We’ve had one of our Vice President’s, Leo Frese – a very well-known name in coins – interviewed by FOX News. We had our resident expert generalist and Americana Consignment Director, Marsha Dixey, interviewed by SmartMoney Magazine, and there were another few interviews, NPR among them, with people who I’m forgetting, but you get the point. You want experts, we got ‘em. Though on this subject you might not like what you hear.

It’s also a relatively frequent subject of discussion in the hallowed halls of 3500 Maple Avenue. I haven’t had the chance to get the opinions of any of our four principals here at HA – Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin, Greg Rohan or Paul Minshull – but I reckon, as well as those men know coins and collectibles, they’d say the same things that both Leo Frese, Marsha Dixey, and any of our other resident experts would say. I myself follow this issue pretty closely, because I’m obsessive about trends in this business, and I love to observe the successes and foibles of humanity.

Here’s the deal: The current run on all things Obama? The coins, plates, papers, shirts, shams, buttons, belly button lint pickers and the like? None of it, really, is going to be worth a thing, minus sentimental value. Perhaps in a few decades, or centuries, some of it will. But now? No. Give it up. You will not retire on those “rare, limited edition” Obama coins – that limited edition is probably in the 10s of millions.

In fact, besides items Obama has personally owned, signed, used in his campaign or senate career – pens, chairs, cars, stationary, etc. – there is really only one piece of Obama memorabilia that will have you pretty well set for life, and those are one of the original 350 iconic “Hope” portraits of America’s 44th President, by artist Shepard Fairey, one of which is now in The National Gallery in Washington. D.C., and another of which recently sold at a charity auction for more than $200,000. Even that price is not guaranteed to hold, but these original posters are very much in demand and very much not available.

Don’t shoot me, now, I’m just the messenger. And this is the truth. See me in a few decades and I’ll update this. Maybe I’ll even be wrong, but I doubt it.