What is the similarity between tulip bulbs and pogs?
Unbridled speculation which ultimately resulted in financial ruin.
Tulipomania took hold in 1634, primarily in Holland, lasting until 1637 During the period, sales of tulip bulbs went from being a business to pure speculation. Prices rose dramatically day by day, with people giving up jobs, homes, and families in order to become tulip growers.
As the frenzy for bulbs increased, the prices paid skyrocketed. One bulb, the Vice-Roi, reportedly was sold for twelve acres of land. Another of the same variety was exchanged for a carriage and twelve horses. And a third went for 36 bushels of wheat, 72 bushels of rice, 4 oxen, 12 sheep, 8 pigs, 2 barrels of wine, 4 barrels of beer, 2 tons of butter, half a ton of cheese, a bed, clothing, and a silver cup – for a total value of approximately 2500 Dutch florins.
Another story goes that a wealthy man paid for a single bulb with its weight in gold, then discovered that a cobbler had one of the same variety. The man paid the cobbler 15,000 florins for the bulb. (Consider the value of 2500 florins cited above and multiply by six.) He then crushed the bulb under his foot to assure that he possessed the only one of its kind.
In April of 1637, the Dutch government stepped in to stem the madness, issuing a decree that tulip sales were to be conducted like any other business. This caused a collapse of the speculative market and the ruin of many people.
Jump to the early 1990s and a game — a cross between tiddlywinks and card-flipping — played by Hawaiian children using the cardboard disks used to hold milk and juice bottle caps in place. Named pogs for the most recognizable variety (from bottles of Passion fruit/Orange/Guava juice), their popularity spread to the West Coast of the U.S. and then across the country.
As happens with most crazes, companies quickly jumped into the manufacturing of pogs. And once there were multiple varieties featuring movie, TV, and comic book characters, there emerged a fervent group of collectors. Collectors, of course, spark an increase in prices, which in turn brings in speculators.
As with the tulip bulbs 350 years earlier, speculators drove prices of pogs to astronomical levels in a short period of time. Companies continued to manufacture tons of them – they were obviously lots easier to produce than tulip bulbs – and soon the market was flooded. As quickly as the pogs had been bought up, now the speculators were looking to cash in on their investments.
But guess what! Nobody wanted them. They were, after all, just pieces of cardboard with pictures on them. The pog market collapsed, taking the money of plenty of speculators with it.
One amusing sidelight of the pog craze. As DC was preparing the special bagged version of SUPERMAN #75 for the “Death of Superman,” one of the pog manufacturers wanted to produce a set of pogs to be included with the black armband, “postage stamps,” et al to be included in the bag.
Pog speculation was at its peak, with condition ratings that bordered on insanity. The edges of the pogs had to be perfect; they could not have any hanging bits of cardboard on them.
This presented a major problem for the manufacturer. They were going to do a set of five pogs on a single piece of cardboard that could be inserted by machine into the polybag. In order to keep them from falling out, the diecut could not be a complete circle – two tiny parts had to remain uncut to keep them in place on the cardboard sheet. However, punching the pogs from the cardboard sheet resulted in uneven edges or even (=gasp=) slight tears in them.
The manufacturer kept making samples and sending them to the Ronalds printing plant in Montreal, eventually coming up with a version that allowed the pogs to come out of the board clean. Unfortunately, they came out too easily and tests of inserting them resulted in pogs flying all over the place.
As DC’s Production Director, it was my responsibility to make this work … or pull the plug on it. I ended up doing the latter, because we could not find a way to handle the sheets of pogs without having them fall out. In fact, to demonstrate just how fragile they had made the sheets of pogs, I took a small pile and picked them up one by one. Simple movement made some fall out – they WERE perfect circles though – and it didn’t take much more than a simple wave of the sheet to make the rest fall out. By the time I was finished with my demonstration, there were pogs all over the office and, ten years later, I wouldn’t be surprised to find there are still some under the furniture and behind the bookcases.
Are Pokemon cards worth anything??
Whatever somebody is willing to pay for them. And you might want to read the story of tulip bulbs and pogs above before investing in them.
The 1951 comic book GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR: THE GREAT AMERICAN — is it a rare and valuable edition?
— Ed Wendol (email@example.com)
This Fox Features Syndicate book is listed at $20.00 in Good condition and $160.00 in Near Mint, so I suspect it is fairly rare. Its value, despite what the Price Guide says, comes down to what someone is willing to pay you for it.
I found in my attic three books still in their original wrappers. They are PUNISHER AND CAPTAIN AMERICA: BLOOD & GLORY Books 1, 2 and 3. I’m not into comic books but would like to know more about this series. The three books are all in the same wrapper, so they must be some sort of a set. Maybe they aren’t worth anything. It’s taken me ages too find someone to ask so pleeeeeze reply.
— Simon Dickinson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
They are indeed a set, a three-issue series published in 1992. They catalog at $6.00 each in Near Mint condition.
Where can I find Marvel Value Stamps without spending a lot of money? They ran in two sets 1-100. I only need 20 to finish both and have 122 extras still on the page but not in the comics. Thank you.
— Tom Mac Intyre (email@example.com)
Tom, I strongly suspect that your letter has made a lot of my readers wince. That you have pages that have been removed from 122 comic books is enough to send some collectors into cardiac arrest.
In any case, I’m not aware of a market for the Stamps, but perhaps someone out there is and will share the information.
DC published reprints of DETECTIVE COMICS #27 and BATMAN #1 in 1974.The size was 13 1/2″ x 10″. What would just a cover and splash page be that is larger then the reprints with no signs of staple marks?
Sounds to me like what you have are press proofs of some kind. As with so many of these odd items that turn up, they’re worth what someone is willing to pay you for them. [Gee, I’m starting to sound like a broken record this week.]
When I was a small child I had a comic of SUPERMAN VS. SHAZAM (or Captain Marvel). It was not just in comic book form; it was more like a book. It had the colored pictures and all, but it was all the issues rolled into one. I was wondering first am I imagining all this or is there any way I could get my hands on this comic once again?
— Jason (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Your memory is playing a slight trick onyou, Jason. What you are remembering is ALL-NEW COLLECTOR’S EDITION #C-58, published back in 1978. It was a single, tabloid-sized book. The good news is that it catalogs at just $2.80 in Good condition ($28.00 in Near Mint), so you should be able to replace this treasure from your childhood at a reasonable price.
I am the proud owner of a copy of KID CANNIBAL #1, published by Eternity Comics in the early 90’s. It is a great piece of campy horror. However, I can’t find ANY other trace of this title’s existence anywhere. Old Eternity comics are pretty hard to come by, and I was wondering… Did they ever publish any issues beyond #1?
— Cornsilk (CornsilkSW@hotmail.com)
I’m unable to answer that question. Like you, I’ve been unable to find any information about the first issue, let alone any subsequent ones. Anybody out there have any knowledge of this title?
When bagging and boarding comic books, which side of the board should face the back of the comic book? I thought I was once told that the glossy side has acid and will eventually damage comics, so I’ve been facing the comic to the unglossy side, but I see a lot of retailers store comic books with the book touching the glossy side. Which way is more protective?
I’d vote for the glossy side. The cardboard itself contains the acids, so it would seem logical that the glossy coating was put on to protect the books from them. After all, what purpose would be served by ADDING a coating that would damage the books?
Where can I find an online review of THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN #3? What?s going on with that book? Does it contain something offensive that nobody wants to comment or something like that?
Felipe K. (email@example.com)
The book hasn’t shipped yet, so there are no reviews. I do not believe that DC has set a new ship date yet, but that is not surprising since my spies tell me it isn’t yet completed.
That closes the emailbox for this week. Join me here again next week for more Q&A. Meantime, if you enjoy answering MY questions, don’t miss my daily Anything Goes Trivia at www.wfcomics.com/trivia.
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