For some Americans, VHS tapes in their attics or garages are nothing more than plastic and magnetic tape. But to collectors and bidding companies, these cassettes are worth as much as gold.
In February, a set of factory sealed “Rocky” cassettes that was originally purchased in 1982 for $60 sold at auction for $53,750.
WKBW-TV reported James Kroeger had stuffed some magazines and movies into a capsule on Christmas Day 1982, the same day that his son Bubba’s was born. The “Rocky” trilogy was among the memorabilia crammed into the crate.
According to the auctioneer who sold the tapes to James, he loved the trilogy, and wanted to keep it for his son, because “it was Americana typical, the story of an underdog’s success.”
In 2022, he learned what people were willing to pay, even for a few items from his steamer trunk, especially for the last known factory sealed copies of “Rocky”.
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Kroeger said ahead of the auction he’d give the money raised to his granddaughters Bubba’s Kids and then hide the capsule until the 50th birthday of his son.
The auction for the most expensive VHS collection sold did not end with “Rocky”.
A VHS tape in near-mint condition from 1986 of “Back to the Future”, sold at auction in June 2022 for $75,000 It was reportedly more valuable as it belonged to actor Tom Wilson who played Biff in the film. CNN reported that this was “the highest auction price ever paid for a graded, sealed VHS tape.”
Antique Trader reported in 2021 that a VHS sealed copy, never opened, of “Star Wars: A New Hope”, sold at auction for $57,600.
Jay Carlson, a tape collector and enthusiast, told the New York Times a man paid quarters for a VHS first release copy of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. The film will probably fetch up to $20,000 at auction.
You can find similar treasures in junk shops and bargain bins across the United States.
Carlson, who is now the consignment director for home entertainment at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, a multinational auction house, has found that nostalgia for cultural artifacts from the 1980s can be lucrative.
Carlson, a former corporate employee who dealt with credit card fraud told The Times that he started hoarding cassettes of VHS tapes after they were deemed “plastic garbage.” This perception lowered the price of mint copies “Back to the Future,” The Goonies,” Blade Runner,”and other classics. He was able to purchase them for around $20 each on eBay. These are now worth much more at auction.
The Times reported that auction houses are experiencing a surge in demand for VHS tapes. Heritage Auctions does not make an exception.
Heritage primarily dealt in comics, movie poster, sports memorabilia, and coins at the turn of this century. The company now sells over 50 collectible categories, generating revenue of $1.4billion in 2022.
Carlson recalled fond memories of riding on his bike to the video store and perusing the selection, marveling at box art, descriptions and titles. He told Antique Trader, however, that “it is less about the movie itself because I don’t watch the movies on VHS.” It’s what the movie means. “It’s about an item.”
Carlson said, “I’m aware that there are a group of people who enjoy watching VHS movies.” “I am not one of those people. I enjoy watching movies in 4K. I love big screens. “VHS is more than just having a tangible piece of history to me.”
Heritage’s Chief Strategy Officer, Josh Benesh, said that auctioneers should not be able to determine value but instead let the market do so.
“We do not question the validity or value of a certain subject matter in relation to outdated norms,” Benesh said, according to the Times. “We are not here to tell what is worthwhile. The market will tell you. “The bidders will tell you.”
The Times reported that Heritage will have roughly 1.6 millions bidders determine the value of an item.
A bidder bought a 1980 Beta WCI Home Video of “Superman: The Movie”, in mint condition, at auction on February 17.
Robb Report is a magazine that focuses on luxury lifestyle. It reported that adventure movies from the 1980s were not the only items in demand. At auction, video game kitsch from that era and other devices are also highly sought after.
In July 2021, a sealed copy of “Super Mario 64”, never played before, sold for $1.56 Million. The Nintendo game, “The Legend of Zelda”, sold for $870,000 at the same auction just two days before.