Some time back photos of a couple of case lots of the previously rare German 7.9 SMKH ammunition were posted on this site. Boxes of this ammunition have now started to be posted for sale on Gunbroker. This opens up the question of what is rare and what is contrived rarity. Some years back a “rarity scale” was developed starting with cartridges which are only known in 1 or a few specimens and ranging down to those which are known in the hundreds. This can be found in the IAA literature.
CARTRIDGES WHICH EXIST IN THE HUNDREDS ARE NOT RARE.
CARTRIDGES WHICH EXIST IN CASE LOTS ARE NOT RARE
KEEPING CARTRIDGES OFF OF THE OPEN MARKET TO SUPPORT A PRICE DOES NOT MAKE THEM RARE.
I CALL THIS “CONTRIVED RARITY” .
IT IS MARKET MANIPULATION .
THIS KIND OF BUSINESS PRACTICE UNDERMINES “COLLECTING” AND MOCKS THE CONCEPT OF RARITY.
Another variation of this I call “insitu market research” .
Some years ago I encountered a seller at the old Greenbelt show in Maryland. He had a few interesting items and a mint 7.9 German work tool priced at $15 . It had a headstamp which I did not own so I bought it. This was 1973 and $15 was a lot more for a cartridge than it is today. As I pocketed my purchase he put another one out. I asked " do you have more of these " - Answer - I have a box of them ( that is 15 rounds). I offered to take them all at that price ( little did I know at that time that the paper box was rarer than any of the individual shells).
He said that they were only for sale individually. What did that mean?
It meant this: he raised the price $5 each time he sold one of them until they stopped selling. That told him what he considered to be the top market price.
(this is not true) but it worked for him. Market prices are affected by various forces beyond what price will be paid at a show.
Bottom line - I bought 3 ; one for $15, one for $20 and one for $25. $25 was top retail in most venues at the time.
The problem with the type of sale is that a serious collector with means can and will pay far more than top “market price” for something which he needs or wants.
This fact corrupts the market in several ways. In many cases which I have known over my 50+ years of collecting. A seller has sold the first round out of a previously unknown box ( or case in some circumstance) to a top collector with means for a high price thereby establishing a base mark " market price " far higher than reasonable for the collecting community.
I have seen several sellers die with boxes and in one instance a full case of cartridges with 1 sold. That one sale corrupted the market and froze the exchange of items which would have sold readily in a normal market.
How does one PRICE rare items ? I gave up on this years ago and auction RARE items. Some items which I thought would bring high prices did not sell and some sold high and surprised me.
I use a rule of thumb to price cartridges which are not rare due to their existing in box lots or more which I buy to resell.
I price the first sale at my purchase price for the box. After a year of “no sale” I drop the price.
Contrived rarity needs to be seen for what it is.