Over the course of the 12 years from 1993 to 2006, Larry Bieza produced 7 editions of his book detailing the prices of all types of pinball machines. When Larry decided to call time on his publication, it seemed that would be the end.
But Eric Kantor had other ideas and wanted to keep the ball rolling.
It's taken several years but now at last Eric's dream has become reality and the eighth edition of the Pinball Price Guide is out.
At a pocketable 8.5" by 5.5" and 154 pages long, it contains listings for more than 2,000 machines made between 1931 and 2010, as well as a number of articles about pinball collecting, buying and selling, restoring and other resources available which can provide the reader with further information on these topics.
Eric then has a series of short reports about the collector market for each era of machine and lists the most in-demand machines (and hence the most valuable) for each category from pre-war to modern dot-matrix games.
The main section lists games alphabetically - 37 per page - and gives details and important features such as the manufacturer, the number of players, the year(s) of manufacture, the type of machine, the approximate production run, and the designers and artists who worked on the machine along with footnotes to further identify the machine in question.
But the book wouldn't live up to it's name if it didn't include price information and this edition provides valuations for the games in three grades. The book explains how to rate the backglass, playfield and cabinet, but ultimately it's a subjective decision which of the three grades you decide to give to any particular machine. Choose one and read off the suggested price.
The book also contains two longer Collector's Corner articles, and it is with the second of these that we have to declare a self-interest.
The first is about collecting electro-mechanical games from the '60s and '70s by Brian Saunders. In it he talks about the add-a-ball and replay version of games as well as the transitional period as solid state technology led to both electro-mechanical and electronic versions of games being made. Brian concludes by listing his favourite two dozen machines from his chosen decades.
The second article is by Pinball News Editor, Martin Ayub and describes the pinball market in the UK, the rise of the collector community, the growth of pinball shows and tournaments along with the UK's top ten games as chosen by the UK Pinball Group.
The valuations given are intended for the US market and while we're not able to comment on the accuracy of all the prices, the few we spot-checked looked to be on the money to us. Most non-US markets tend to have a relatively fixed premium or discount to American prices, so the prices quoted still have relevance outside the United States.
Pricing games is always a tricky job and considering all the various negative and positive factors which influence the price makes it harder still. Pinballeric's Pinball Price Guide gives anyone thinking of buying or selling games a standard reference valuation from which to work and adjust accordingly.
Consult it before deciding if a price is fair when visiting an auction or dealer, checking the small ads or eBay, or any other time when you're just not sure what a game is worth.