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  What is rare?

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Author Topic:   What is rare?
Larry McGlynn
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posted 07-28-2003 09:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a question. At what point is a space artifact considered a rare artifact?

Anyone's opinion would be welcome.

Larry McGlynn

chet
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posted 07-28-2003 09:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the only way to "quantify" something as rare is to give "rare" a definition. For me, if a space artifact
garners over $5,000.00 on Ebay, it's a rare item.

-Chet

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-28-2003 10:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Equating rarity with high value makes the assumption that rarity also equates to high desirability.

I don't know if that should or does hold true.

Any item that flew in space is rare (when compared to everything that hasn't flown).

Any item created for use in a spacecraft is rare (when compared to everything that exists separate from a spacecraft).

Limiting our discussion to space memorabilia, I think anything that was not mass produced -- which includes every part of a spacecraft (as all parts were custom made; nothing, even today, is off-the-shelf) with the exception of souvenirs carried along for the ride (i.e. flags, patches, etc.) is truly rare. Especially when you consider that most of that material was assigned to the Smithsonian post-flight.

(To be clear, the flown souvenirs are also rare, but to a lesser degree.)

[This message has been edited by Robert Pearlman (edited July 28, 2003).]

Rizz
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posted 07-28-2003 10:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
'Rare' is in the heart of the beholder.

Hows that?

Rizz

Okay...after some more thought, I think a space artifact being considered a rare artifact is something that there are not very many of, and little or no chance of anymore becoming available.

Moondust certainly comes to mind.

I would think that all artifacts from the Apollo Missions are rare, unlike flown shuttle stuff for example, although that stuff may become obsolete very soon as well.

Good question!


[This message has been edited by Rizz (edited July 28, 2003).]

chet
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posted 07-28-2003 10:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, you're right, I should have written
rare and desirable. There are probably many rare (insofar as numbers) space items
that would not command a high price, just because very few people would be interested in 'em. (I can think of some pretty obscure 45 rpm records to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing, produced in very limited quantities, that would have a hard time bringing $20 on Ebay).

-Chet

rjurek349
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posted 07-28-2003 11:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rjurek349   Click Here to Email rjurek349     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Excellent topic, Larry. I think rare is one of those ultimate relative terms, and one in which there is a level or continuum of rarity based on the context of the item.

To use coins for example: Liberty Head nickels are very rare today. You don't find them in change. You don't find them on the street. And you don't find them at the bank. ANd there won't be any liberty head nickels minted anytime, soon. You've got to buy/trade for them. So they are rare relative to current nickels.

However, within the set of Liberty Nickels, there are levels of rarity based on discrete factors -- population of the nickel, grade of the nickel, mint mark on the nickel.

Then, within that context, there is the relative "Value" assigned to the grading service used on the nickel (PCGS, NGC, not graded, etc.).

And let's not even start on the subjective argument of preference for a Liberty Head nickel collection, versus Buffalo or Jefferson Nickels! :-)

In Robert's example -- I would agree. Everything that goes into space is, indeed, rare by definition. (Same as authentic meteorite samples are rare relative to the other rocks all about the planet. Then there are irons, chondrites, martian, lunar, etc.) That sets up one context of relative rarity, in my mind.

Then, among that context, comes the next level -- earth orbit, lunar orbit, lunar surface, lunar surface EVA (as we often have seen as a scale to "judge" a space artifact by many dealers, collectors and auction houses).

Then, of course, there are other contexts to consider -- souvenir item (beta, cover, flag) versus mission hardware (i.e., checklist, map, food, etc.) versus personal item (religious medal, family picture, watch, etc.).

What other contexts of rarity could be included? Perhaps hand signed/flight certified, versus only attached to a NASA cert that says an item has flown.

Then there is the amount or volume of material for the given sample at hand (say a little beta swatch, versus a full beta, versus a beta logo that was cut out of the full 9inch x 9 inch beta).

Given the above, and the uniqueness of many of the items flown -- the term "rare" would also, in my mind, have to be applied to the amount of any one item per flight (i.e., 100 betas, versus 80 Robbins medallions, versus 40 flown $2 bills, versus 15 flown covers, etc.)

Then within those subsets -- perhaps there is another level of rarity: does it have moondust? What condition is it in? Is it part of a numbered series? Etc.

All of these factors should make its way into the equation -- at least in some level along a continuum of relative rareness.

If you move away from the Flown side, and just talk about autographs -- there is the obvious volume context to rarity (how many Alan Bean signatures versus how many Ed White's, for example), as well as the demand side (how many Neil Armstrongs versus how many Alan Sheperd's)and the historic side (a moonwalker versus a mercury/gemini/shuttle astronaut, for example) as well as the ease of access to an example.

Therefore, in my mind -- it is a very delicate balance and mix. They are all rare on a basic level; but also everything we collect also has a relative level or rarity.

This of course excludes all the mass produced items (commemorative medallions, covers, patches, models, stamps, records, lithos, etc.). They, too, have their contexts and levels of rarity -- as well as demand points, and avid collectors that ebb and flown supply/demand to create either rarity (i.e., difficulty to find or get ahold of at "low" prices) or commonplaceness (i.e., ability to easily buy, sell or trade for an item).

Sorry for all the ramblings! Just my 2 cents...

[This message has been edited by rjurek349 (edited July 28, 2003).]

rjurek349
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posted 07-28-2003 11:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rjurek349   Click Here to Email rjurek349     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
..and to cut to the chase, since I can never seem to shut up, if one wants to ignore all this "levels of rarity" crapola I just spewed forth, I personally recommend "rare" to be what I believe is the essence of its primary meaning: "few in number." Regardless of an items value to anyone, if there are very few of them relative to others, then fundamentally the item is rare.

My other comments are more subjective measures to try and come to terms with the different degrees of magnitude for rareness/price/value, etc.

Time for bed...

Rizz
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posted 07-29-2003 04:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
....not yet! I want to hear more. Your so good

Joe Davies
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posted 07-29-2003 04:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Davies   Click Here to Email Joe Davies     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rare is absolutely everything for sale on Ebay.
Unique is absolutely everything for sale on Astro Auction.

Madon_space
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posted 07-29-2003 05:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Madon_space   Click Here to Email Madon_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rare to me is wanting something and not being able to afford it. ERMMM!

James Brown
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posted 07-29-2003 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for James Brown   Click Here to Email James Brown     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Desirability and numbers to me, make something rare. Example: the Robbins medallions. Shuttle medallions, flown or unflown, are rare in themselves, usually only 150 or so per flight being produced, with the gold one's being much more rare than the silver one's. Later, the dyes are destroyed, and no more are made.

James

mensclub10@aol.com
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posted 07-29-2003 11:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mensclub10@aol.com   Click Here to Email mensclub10@aol.com     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Being an autograph collector, rare is an authentic Apollo 1 crew signed photo-litho or a authentic Mercury 7 photo-litho signed by all the astronauts. How many are out there? In reverse signed photos-lithos of Duke, Bean etc. which are much easier to find.
Dave

Jake
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posted 07-29-2003 12:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jake   Click Here to Email Jake     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rare... It seems to me that rare is separate from valuable, which is separate from the desire to own it.

It is certainly fair to call a signed WSS portrait from Neil Armstrong rare, since there are only a set, and relatively small, number of them out there. In general, this also makes such an item valuable, which they are. But as a collector of manned spaceflight models, vintage artifacts, and in-person autographs, I would not pay 20c for one. In fact, I do not WANT one in my collection unless it was signed in-person - which Neil respectfully chooses to no longer do. We each make choices as to what we collect. We each make decisions as to what we desire. We don't actually decide what is rare.

------------------
Jake Schultz - curator,
Newport Way Air Museum (OK, it's just my home)

icarkie
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posted 07-29-2003 01:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for icarkie   Click Here to Email icarkie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As for what Joe Davis said:
RARE is the chances of me getting Armstrong to sign an X-15 or Apollo picture.

UNIQUE is an inscibed photo (to my daughter) from Paul Weitz.
Good post Larry McGlynn.

All the best Ian

Gilbert
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posted 07-29-2003 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unfortunately, rare is the word most often used to describe something I want desperately.

Rob Sumowski
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posted 07-29-2003 04:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Sumowski   Click Here to Email Rob Sumowski     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great post, Larry!

"Rare" is everything in Larry McGlynn's collection.
; )

Seriously, I think quantity makes items rare. Neil Armstrong signed WSS shots are not rare at all, however they are highly desirable. There are literally thousands out there, and for the right amount of cash, you can buy as many as you like. The quantity is actually plentiful.

Now, take a Neil Armstrong signed beta patch or Neil signed flown items and you've infinitely reduced the quantity he has signed over the years, so these are definitely much more rare, and still highly desirable.

Personally, I don't define rarity by the market, but rather by the quantity of specific items available.

Rob

cklofas
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posted 07-29-2003 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cklofas   Click Here to Email cklofas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Several people have already stated the problem- how to separate "rare" from "desirable" or "valuable" Here's my thoughts

valuable - something that someone is willing to pay a lot for

desirable - something you want ( and typically cant afford )

rare - something that is both valuable and desirable

BigWaveDave
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posted 07-30-2003 02:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BigWaveDave   Click Here to Email BigWaveDave     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rare ...is how I like my steak, and Blacken Ahi ....desireable too!

Steve Zarelli
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posted 07-30-2003 02:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
RARE is an UNsigned copy of Encounter With Tiber

;-)

Voodoo
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posted 07-31-2003 12:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Voodoo   Click Here to Email Voodoo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A quotation (I'm afraid I don't recall the source) that I use when this sort of discussion comes up:

"Not everything rare is valuable, but everything valuable is rare".

It's supply and demand -- If something is available in large quantities, the value tends to go down. If it's only available in very small quantities, then it's valuable -- IF there's a demand for it.

A somewhat facetious example -- Examples of my poetry are rare. But they aren't valuable, because there's no demand (and deservedly so!)

Value can be (somewhat) independant of actual rarity. An example from another hobby of mine (old aircraft) -- P-51 Mustangs are relatively common warbird aircraft, with dozens of flying examples around the world. Despite being so 'common' (relatively speaking), they command prices in line with, or even higher than, much rarer aircraft with only a few surviving examples.

(Someone could probably come up with an analog for Space Collecting -- I couldn't think up one on the spur of the moment.

Another definition -- Rare -- "Stuff that you could have gotten at affordable prices 20 years ago, but didn't!"

Martin

[This message has been edited by Voodoo (edited July 31, 2003).]

eurospace
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posted 07-31-2003 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Zarelli:
RARE is an UNsigned copy of Encounter With Tiber

;-)


Even rarer is an UNsigned of Encounter with Tiber that was read, and to the last page.
;-))


------------------
Jürgen P Esders
Berlin, Germany
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Astroaddies

MScherzi
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posted 08-02-2003 12:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MScherzi   Click Here to Email MScherzi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually, Tiber is a wonderful book that works on somany different levels. John and Buzz did a great job.

Very Heinleinesque, in my opinion.

Matt

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