Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2005

Rothman's Secondary Market

By Matt Rothman

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Harbour Lights Secondary Market has been active ever since the company's origination over a decade ago. This is a really good sign for lighthouse collectors and the values of their collections. For those collectors who are not aware of what the Secondary Market is, this is when the manufacturer of a collectible produces a designated amount of pieces in limited editions by number, for example 5500 piece being produced worldwide, or time frame, such as six months to a year. Harbour Lights Secondary Market is driven by many different appeals, and the main strength of this collectible is built on the collectors' love of historical and realistic buildings, as opposed to many collectibles that are created through fantasy such as Disney or Christmas themes.

Harbour Lights once retired can be found at many different sources such as classified ads, collectors clubs, secondary market brokers,

and the Internet. In the height of the secondary market in the late '90s, the economy was very strong and Harbour Lights produced smaller edition sizes and the demand for retired pieces exceeded availability. The original Cape Hatteras was valued as high as $5000.00 or beyond. Today this piece is still holding a strong return on its original $60.00 price tag. This light sells between $3000.00 and $4200.00. The Coquille River, OR edition size was shortened because of design errors and sold for $2500.00 to $3300.00. Today there have been some bargains out there at $1200.00 to $1500.00 but those are few and far between. The average price has been $1800.00 to $2200.00. The second edition Cape Hatteras NC was selling for $750.00 to $800.00; today, the average price is $450.00 to $550.00. These are just some of the examples of the current value that we are seeing.

A lot of collectors are gauging the price of the Harbour Lights collection with the prices of what you see on the popular auction site ebay. Keep in mind that with any auction or flea market bazaar you can always find a treasure for an outstanding price, but one sale does not set the value or the trend of a collection. There are many variables to take into consideration such as the true condition of the piece along with its original box and paperwork. Do not let your collection be devalued by hearsay of what a few bargain auction sales have sold at. Many people track auction sales and feel this is the most comprehensive gauge of the collection. But to get true values you would have to average all the sources of sales to have a realistic overview. If anything as the economy becomes stronger and there is more disposable income Harbour Lights will be one of the more desired secondary market collectibles because of the nostalgia and historic interest that it offers the collector. But as I have always stressed to the collector purchase for the love of the

collectible not the investment potential.

Another real strength in the Harbour Lights Secondary Market has been the demand for pieces that were manufactured in Canada in the early years of the collectible line. These will be in white boxes and the majority have a "Castle Studio" stamped in blue on the exterior of the box. The painting of each piece varies and is not as clean as later productions in Malaysia and China. This appeals to many collectors because each piece has its own individuality.

Many of these lights do have lightning rods that have become exceptionally popular on the secondary market. The average price of the Canadian piece has commanded $50.00 to as much as $100.00 higher than its later contemporaries. Also another area of the secondary market pieces with quirks such as blue or green water or incorrect states; first or second molds have still remained strong overall even with the adverse times that the nation and the economy have gone through. Yet there are many positives on the horizon. More and more for the Harbour Lights collector more and more lighthouse enthusiasts are discovering this unique line of collectible and Harbour Lights has listened to its collector base and has offered smaller edition sizes, which have more appeal as limited editions. The trend is pieces from 3000 in size to 6,500, which gives more of a demand on the secondary market. These are some welcome signs for future years.

Happy Collecting!

Matt Rothman is the owner of Lighthouse Trading Co., which is the original and leading source in the secondary market of Harbour Lights. He can be contacted at 610-409-9336 or email lhtrade1@aol.com. Or visit his website at www.lighthousetrading.com

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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