Articles have popped up recently about the value of old VHS, particularly the Disney Black Diamond editions from the 1990s. Look at these headlines. Read the articles, if you’d like, but remember to bring your many grains of salt…
etc. Guaranteed to get people’s pulses racing. Classic click-bait.
This has, apparently, been going on for years. It is typical for the internet to pick up on sensational, crazy articles and spawn dozens of clone-articles. And a few counter-arguments. An article written on eBay, from 2010, gives a lot of details and discussion on the fad: Why You Should Be Collecting Disney Black Diamond VHS’s.
A long rambling discussion on reddit: Why are Beauty and The Beast VHS tapes selling for $500?
Are they valuable? …no. At least, there doesn’t seem to be any reason under the sun why anyone would pay anything significant for these Disney VHS. One issue that a lot of people point out is that these VHS may be listed for thousands, or tens of thousands, of dollars on eBay, but that doesn’t mean that they actually sell for those amounts. Truth. Truth for all things – you can absolutely try to sell your used socks for megabucks, but that doesn’t make your socks worth megabucks.
HOWEVER. You can check on eBay to see what things have sold for… and this is something I think a lot of naysayers have overlooked. And some of these VHS, yes, have sold for OBSCENE amounts. Why? I mean, WHY?!? FOR GOD’S SAKE, WHY PAY $12,500 FOR A “SPECIAL PLATINUM” EDITION OF BEAUTY & THE BEAST VHS FROM 2003? Especially when other people are paying under $10! I use that one as an example because we currently have a copy of it, which I’ve listed together with the Platinum Edition of The Lion King, at auction starting for $14.98. It does have one watcher!
Alright. Let’s look at Beauty & The Beast.
First of all, yes, it appears someone was able to sell their Platinum Edition of Beauty & the Beast for $12,500 (link goes to the eBay sold listings, with highest value listed first). That one sold on June 5th. And for the record, the only description is: “Very good like new condition. Help a great cause as a portion of the proceeds will get donated to a great charity!” 20% went to the Make A Wish Foundation. The next highest sold is $61.63 (still sealed). If you look at those that sold for the least, there was one that sold for $3 with free shipping just ten days after the other sold for $12,500. That first page on eBay of 50 listings are all under $10.
Now let’s look at the Classic Black Diamond edition of Beauty & The Beast. The ultra! rare! vhs! WhoooO! Check out this insanity. A few things to note: These are all the SOLD listings. People have, as far as we can see, actually paid these dollars (and the images below are just a sampling). Are these editions rare? 2,237 have sold, and many more than that are currently listed for sale. Tbat’s not rare. I’m not even going to begin to fathom why people are paying so much, because take a look at the LOWEST prices people are paying in the second image!
One poor soul thought he was going to be able to pay off a significant portion of his student debt by selling a Disney Black Diamond VHS. He started the bidding at .51 cents. He sold it for $2.01, with free shipping. In other words, he sold it AT A LOSS. Oops. One thing I’ve learned: if you really do want to sell your VHS for tens of thousands, make it a Buy It Now with a Make An Offer button. Maybe you’ll catch your one rich idiot. But everybody and their mother are trying this – eBay is a-swarm with these VHS. Rare? Not according to the sheer numbers listed on eBay.
I don’t know why some VHS have sold for megabucks. Rich people who have just read and believed the sensational articles? Is this all just flat-out fraudulent?
This is an extreme example of what my colleagues and I do almost every day – trying to assess value based on what is listed against what has sold. You can’t always find what a book has sold for, so you have to assess if the sellers are thinking wishfully, or whether their price-point is actually valid. Sometimes it’s obvious but other times you have to do the research to find out if there’s any history or notoriety behind the book. One article attempts to make sense of the Disney VHS fad. Amazon has the benefit that I can judge by the sales rank what the level of interest might be, and therefore I don’t always need to know the story behind the book. We’ve sold some odd books on Amazon for a lot of money for no particular rhyme or reason. On eBay, the seller has to provide all the information themselves – nothing is automatically filled out for you. Not only do you have to (or at least should have to) describe the condition, but also edition, year, printing, author, and any description of what the book is about or who the author is. On eBay, it helps immensely to know and appreciate what you’re selling.
Yesterday I stopped at the thrift store and found a Black Diamond edition of The Rescuers Down Under. I did not buy it. One copy on eBay appears to have sold for $425…. but mostly copies are selling for under $10. If I had bought it to resell, I probably wouldn’t have profited more than a couple dollars.
Do you have a bunch of these stashed away? Will you keep your eye out at thrift stores and garage sales? Can you imagine why anyone in their right mind would pay more than $10 for any of these? Even IF these Black Diamond editions were super rare, would you bother paying so much? Books I can understand some of the insanity…. but VHS, let’s face it, are just defunct tech.
People are weird.
UPDATE: According to eBay, the listings that appear under “Sold” have NOT necessarily been paid for (in hindsight this seems obvious). This would be a good strategy for scammers – list an item for tens of thousands, have your friend “buy” it but then cancel the order. So there is literally no guarantee ANY of these have really sold. One way or another this indicates there are pretty easy ways to make stuff appear valuable when it really isn’t. When the same items are selling for a couple dollars with free shipping, something very fishy is going on.