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Your old VHS tapes could be worth a small fortune

(NEXSTAR) — Like other pop culture memorabilia from the ’80s and ’90s, videocassettes have a little moment — and some of those tapes could potentially be worth big bucks to collectors.

“There is some interest from the new Generation X and Millennials to revisit the technology and media of their youth.” Megan Mahn Miller, a Minneapolis-based entertainment memorabilia appraiser, told Nexstar. “The same thing happens with old video games and Pokémon cards.”

But unlike Nintendo games or trading cards, VHS tapes have yet to prove themselves as big earners on the auction block.

“This is a brand new hobby,” said Joe Maddalena, executive vice president of Texas-based Heritage Auctions. “[VHS sales] doing well, but there is work to be done when it comes to scarcity and rarity.”

Still, Maddalena said he sees “all the ingredients” for VHS to be the next big collecting craze. He’ll find out for sure in June when the Heritage Auctions is held very first pure VHS auction with more than 300 titles.

“This auction could go well or it could go great,” Maddalena told Nexstar. “We do not know it.”

Heritage Auctions first became aware of aftermarket VHS sales a few years ago when, according to Maddalena, “many” video game collectors also started collecting VHS tapes. And while there haven’t been many — if any — VHS-only auctions, he told Nexstar he’s optimistic after learning of some recent private sales.

“This auction should raise a total of $500,000 to $1 million,” he predicted. “If it goes past a million, it’s a big hit.”

Many of the titles at Heritage’s forthcoming auction reflect another ‘ingredient’ that Maddalena and his experts are looking for: for the most part, they are all films that evoke strong emotional responses from people who grew up in the ’80s.

“‘Blade Runner,’ ‘The Goonies,’ the ‘Back to the Future’ franchise, the ‘Indiana Jones’ franchise, ‘Star Wars’… They talk about iconic, iconic movies,” Maddalena explained. “And then the horror movies – ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ – those are the most popular.”

It goes without saying that every item in the auction block is factory-sealed in its original packaging and authenticated by a verified grading service and assessed for its condition. Buyers tend to be interested in first editions too – which were usually printed in smaller runs and were often bought up by video stores in the early years of the rental market.

“Those first tapes were limited and people [who bought personal copies] They usually opened these,” Maddalena said. “Other prints came later as the studios saw the market for them.”

However, less than perfect VHS copies may not be entirely worthless. It’s possible that more obscure titles may become collectible as well, depending on continued demand for VHS.

“If it’s a horrible B-movie that never made it through the VHS medium and onto DVD…or if there’s a typographical error or something unusual about a cover – think ‘The little mermaid’ by Disney – and the cover was pulled off the shelf and replaced, which could be of interest to a buyer,” said Mahn Miller.

Maddalena also hinted that there could be a future market for reprints of popular, nostalgic titles, but only if current demand for VHS really picks up.

“We’re just not at that stage of the hobby yet,” says Maddalena. “They really need the auction market to keep up… to figure out where to go.”

In the meantime, sellers can try their luck on online auction sites like eBay, where many users are already trying to make a quick buck off their old VHS tapes. Just don’t go in with high expectations.

“It all depends on what ‘valuable’ means to you,” Mahn Miller said. “If you can sell an item you’ve had since the 1980s for $5, maybe that’s valuable to you.”

https://fox5sandiego.com/news/trending/your-old-vhs-tapes-might-be-worth-a-small-fortune/ Your old VHS tapes could be worth a small fortune

Sarah Y. Kim

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