January 29, 2023

In these economically uncertain times, I have been asked whether Wizard of Oz acim are a good investment. I am not a financial advisor and would not presume to give an investment advice but as someone who has been actively involved in rare books, I would like to share my thoughts on this subject.

The value of rare Wizard of Oz series books obviously depends on many factors. When was the book published? How many books of that particular edition were published? What is the condition of the book? Does it have the dust jacket? How popular the book is in the series?

The answers to all these questions are very important in identifying the current and future value of the Oz series books. Just like other collectibles, the Oz books may or may not increase in value over time due to many factors. However, some financial analysts suggest turning to collectibles, such as rare books, during economic downturns. The reason? Collectibles can act as a hedge against inflation, and in addition, offer a very important intangible benefit that most other types of investments do not offer Â- personal enjoyment.

Many investors, especially now, are attempting to diversify their assets. The point of diversification is to provide shelter from market storms. In January 2008 the U.S. stocks lost 6%, foreign markets fell 10% and emerging markets dropped 13%. So where did a lot of people turn for safety? Gold. Many analysts are advising the investors that gold will make a portfolio safer because it does well when the U.S. stocks do poorly. However, those investors who bought gold during the 1979-1980 bear market know that the price of gold went way down before going up. Moreover, those investors who bought gold in late 70s/early 80s only now are at the point they were when they originally bought it, and that is with price of gold jumping now to over $1000 an ounce!

I began to wonder: how does the value of gold over the years compare to the value of Oz series books?

I recently evaluated prices that were realized from the November, 1978 auction of The Schiller collection (Swann Galleries) and a few recent auction sales of Oz books. The main reason I chose to compare prices from these two sources is because one can assume that what is advertised by both accurately represents the edition, condition, and other attributes of actual books. I intentionally did not utilize eBay or other similar auction prices because they may not accurately represent the true values of the books since both sellers and buyers may not be sufficiently familiar with the complex process of Oz series booksÂ’ identification.

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