Taking a look at eBay these days provides a much different picture than a few months back. If you look at the Completed Items under “Robert E. Howard,” you see a whole list of books listed in the overpriced $150 range, all of which went unsold. Meanwhile, the limited chapbook of [redacted]’s The Very Best of Outnumbered and Alone went for $78.50 in furious bidding. This was a little chapbook given out for free at the Blood & Thunder release party at the World Fantasy Convention not three months ago. I forgot to pick one up during all the hubbub — luckily I have all the original Outnumbered and Alone‘s from REHupa.
I see that people are still trying to sell Dark Valley Destiny at a markup of 300%. An unread copy — signed, numbered, and slipcased — failed to go for $59.99, and now there’s another copy up sans slipcase for the same minimum bid. Look around and be patient, and you should be able to get it for $20.00. I imagine the price will drop further now that Mark’s bio is out there offering an alternative.
What else…the ultra rare, almost one-of-a-kind copy of Howard’s The All-Around Magazine failed to go for a minimum bid of $5000.00. I could see a typescript of a really hot Howard story going for that much, but not a piddly little bit of juvenilia. Someday for sure, but not yet.
Notice that the price for the Baen series has plummeted since the Del Rey’s appeared and made their versions of Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and Kull painfully obsolete. Wasn’t it not too long ago that some of those books were going for up to $40? Now the whole set is hovering around $10. I imagine when the Del Rey Horror of REH comes out in a year or two that will reduce the value of some of the other books in that group. Some of the introductions are still worthwhile, but it will be a small matter to reprint them in a critical anthology someday.
The Lancer/Ace Conans are now proving the point that so many have made for so many years: once you have a complete pure-text Conan available, who is going to care about getting the de Camp/Carter pastiches? Conan the Warrior recently sold for the grand total of 1 cent. More than it was worth? You decide.
A posting of copies of Jonathan Bacon’s old large-format chapbook Runes of Ahrh Eih Eche is currently at $12.50 — I suspect that this book’s value will be harmed by the upcoming release of the Collected Letters of REH. Last May I sold a single, slightly beat-up and dog-eared copy for $11.43, about the same price as this whole lot of pristine copies is going for now. It’s clear there is a shakeout and a redistribution of prices going on. With all the new product coming out, the value of various items, some of which have remained steady for years, is starting to change. I’m interested to see which of the new releases holds or increases their value in the coming decade, and which don’t manage that jump into collectability. Will a lot of the old chapbooks, sought out sometimes for a single Howard fragment or rare poem, suddenly become superfluous to most fans? I think so, but let’s wait and see.
STEVE ADDS: $59.99 for Dark Valley Destiny? That much money should at least buy one a biography that bothers to mention “Worms of the Earth.” If these copies continue to languish, Gary Romeo will have to add value with handwritten marginalia like “True dat!” and “Lawd, yes!” and little sketches of smiley-faces and Cupids.