This post contains some thoughts from someone (me) who has purchased, traded, and sold used miniatures across all kinds of venues, e.g., eBay, bartertown.com.
Disclaimer: the photos here are not my own (sourced from throughout the internet). I’ve tried to de-identify said pictures with respect to the original artist. For the dead artists, no pictures, just web links to their bios.
Technical achievement is not a big factor in defining value.
We all know what a bad paint job looks like on a miniature sculpt. The paint is splashed around the edges; slopped on without thought as to form, i.e., not staying within the lines as it were.
Not such neat and clean painters. Form is distorted. Composition is arguably unconventional.
But, based on their “professional” work, can we say that beauty isn’t simply in technique or application of paint?
There’s more to consider.
Now, let’s say the 3-year old is the offspring of Hollywood celebrity. Add to this the tragic god-forbid event that after the 3-year old painted this model, the 3-year old dies in fire. This painted sculpt is the last irreplaceable artwork expression of this 3-year old on Earth.
Would you pay for the sculpt? And if you did, would you pay more? When it comes to judging the price of art, it is a complex process that requires a lot of non-material information. Interestingly, an applied money value is the final variable to determine the value of any fine art piece.
Is eBay a good benchmark for value?
Ebay economics 101….
eBay sells all sorts of things. And, the kind of consumer it attracts are as diverse as the menu of items for sale. It’s a great place to do a bit of consumer-research (here’s a book on this very topic).
Have you looked on eBay for works of fine art? Or for used miniatures?
The more expensive pieces aren’t necessarily the most beautiful (based on common sensibilities of aesthetics), because the monetary value of that piece of art isn’t based only on perceived beauty. There are other factors involved; for example, it could have had a story behind it. Some of the art out there was created by people who were made famous or infamous by actions that had nothing to do with their creative work.
Maybe that’s why if you search eBay for used miniatures and the phrase “pro painted” is listed as a description, you should be skeptical. “Pro” means something different to everyone. The word “pro” might be associated with “good” or “high-quality”, but at the same time even those adjectives are relative.
See this listing (screenshot), for example, for “pro-painted”. What do you think?
Here’s where I start to determine value.
Generally, for me, a good indicator of the value of a used miniature is the renown of the studio or artist who created the original sculpted design. Was the miniature painted and completed by a highly-respected entity in the community? Was the painter someone who has won local or nationally recognized painting contests?
At that point, if all confidence points to yes–that the artist/studio has been recognized in some respectable fashion–then I might consider the higher ask price of a painted, used miniature.
The ultimate measure of value: time.
Time is the one commodity that a person has that can never be recovered after its spent. Use wisely.
Here’s the rub, what could a used miniature have that saves me time?
It is this: I generally prefer unpainted, used miniatures….I’m even willing to pay a tad more for fully assembled, complex miniatures. The time I save from not having to assemble a mini is worth it to me.
I don’t like assembling miniatures. I don’t like assembling IKEA furniture.
Get me the product in the quickest amount of time possible, requires the least work to function for my needs, so I can get to spending time on the things I actually want to do.
Try applying a monetary value to your own paint jobs. You’ll learn a lot about: 1) your internal perspective of your effort, and from this, 2) you might guess what others prioritize for determining value.