The return of the video cassette as a collector's item

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The return of the video cassette as a collector's item

Cassettes of certain films from the 80s can fetch good prices.

VCRs and video tapes were popular in the 80s.

Are we going to regret getting rid of our collections of films and series in video cassette format? Previously confined to modest or impossible-to-sell prices, the second-hand market has been booming in recent months. Nostalgia, but also the appetite of some people for new investments are the cause.

During the same sale, organized at the beginning of June by Heritage Auctions, a VHS tape of Back to The Future) went for $75,000 US ($97,000 CAD), while a copy of Jaws (Jaws) went for $32,500 (C$42,000), and another from Rambo for US$22,500 (C$29,000).

Cassettes have had their circle of collectors since the first copies were released in the late 1970s, but today, for almost all of them, VHS is worth next to nothing, says John , a resident of Newmarket, Ontario, who says he has sold about 3,000 in over 20 years. You'll be lucky if you make $5 out of it.

Only certain niche horror movies, or feature films available only on this medium, made it so far to do better, at a few hundred dollars, or even above a thousand.

But now it's popular films that are on the rise, especially the big hits from the first half of the 80s, provided the tapes meet certain criteria.

A VHS from the first edition of a film placed on the market, in its original unopened packaging, will be more interesting, as will a special series produced in small numbers, which automatically rules out the most of the existing cassettes, in particular the funds of the old video clubs.

Nested horror movie video tapes are still popular.

Star Wars (Star Wars), released in theaters in 1977, the year the first video cassettes were marketed in the United States, is a current reference. Several cassette copies of this film have exceeded US$10,000 (C$12,900).

The Grail would be a copy from the very first US VHS delivery, the films M.A.S.H., Patton and The Sound of Music, released in 1977 by 20th Century Fox studio and Magnetic Video.

The price? It's really hard to say. I would say a six-digit number, or even seven, estimates Jay Carlson, director of the VHS business at Heritage Auctions, a position created only a few months ago.

Many, including longtime collectors, wonder about the sudden acceleration of this market, 16 years after the last release of a film in this format: A History of Violence by David Cronenberg. And then, video recorders have not been produced since 2016.

I think it has a lot to do with nostalgia, says Philip Baker, who runs the Video Collector site. What makes VHS special is that it was the first accessible way to watch a movie at home.

Pat Contri, who co-hosts the podcast Completely Unnecessary, sees in this movement a parallel with video games. In addition to people who have been collecting for a long time, there are now people who have just decided to get into it. They said to themselves: I have money, let's invest in it.

For ten years, several families of objects have thus been taken by storm by individuals seeking to diversify their investments, whether sports shoes, video games, or now video cassettes.

For a new generation of people sensitive to their cultural value, these items have replaced stamps or coins.< /p>

Technology changes, but traces of the old tapes are still there.

Dedicated Facebook groups, multiplication of rating services, which assess the authenticity and quality of a cassette, auction houses on the go, the collectible VHS industry is getting structured at high speed.

Pat Contri is wary of this organized fever. It's similar to what happened in the video game market, where instead of letting a hobby develop naturally, you try to instill a fear of missing out on something. thing and miss an opportunity to make a lucrative investment.

There are people who collect used tapes and are very skeptical of [still-wrapped copies] , recognizes Jay Carlson, but I think that [this movement] is a good thing. […] It's just a different way of collecting.

For him, the market potential of video cassettes is greater than that of video games, which saw , last year, two sales exceeded one million US dollars.

I know a lot of people who are not interested in video games, he argues, but I don't know many who don't have a favorite movie.

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