Collecting Treasures: With the latest news that Hugh Hefner wants to sell, should collectors sell, too, or should they hang on to their vintage items?
One of the big stories last week that may have gotten overshadowed by international news and local election news was the fact that Playboy Enterprises is exploring a sale, which could fetch more than $500 million for the entire company, including Hugh Hefner’s famous mansion.
It was a big shock in October 2015 when the magazine announced it would no longer feature fully naked women in its magazines. Back then, some collectors questioned if that decision would make their old magazines more valuable.
Now, with this latest news that Hefner wants to sell, should collectors sell, too, or should they hang on to their vintage magazines, matchbooks, trading cards, bunny lighters, bunny drink stirrers, mugs and more?
Dare I make a prediction?
Doing well at auctions
I can tell you that Playboy is a brand that does well at auctions. What happens next if there is a sale is anyone’s guess, but I would not be surprised if we see an increase in the number of bidders trying to buy up Playboy collectibles now, in anticipation of value going up.
A few weeks ago, we sold a 2002 Playboy pinball machine manufactured by Stern Pinball for $1,890, including buyer’s premium. It generated more than 1,000 online views and we had a lot of interest from bidders who came to preview it and bid live on auction day.
Stern Pinball pretty much thought of it all — the pinball machine challenged players to collect Playboy Rabbit Heads, to complete a calendar year of Playmates and experience “Mansion Mania.” Every guy’s dream, right?
The machine also had a mechanical Centerfold that opened and closed, along with several other unique playfield mechanisms that revealed beautiful women.
The same consignor also had a “Bunny” slot machine, not affiliated with Playboy, but with a similar look, that sold at auction for $255 with buyer’s premium.
As for the magazines, like anything, the more rare the edition is, the greater the value. I came across an article published last year that summarized the 10 most valuable Playboy magazine editions of all time. Does the news of a potential sale affect perceived value of these risqué publications? Time will tell.
Another subplot to this phenomenon relates to the women’s movement in the 1970s. There were many other collectibles from that era, like signs, pins, literature, and other relics that tied into protests of Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler and other magazines.
So now we wait and see what happens with a potential sale of the Playboy enterprise. One thing is for certain: the old adage that sex sells holds true, especially when there is controversy. But what do I know? I just have fishing and boating magazines at home.
Erik Hoyer owns EJ’s Auction & Consignment in Glendale. Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ejsauction.com or @EJs_Auction on Twitter.