Occasionally I receive inquiries from people asking for advice on pricing or valuing a piece of Cybis that they have received or wish to sell, and they often ask why I don’t include any guidance on that subject. It’s a logical question, given the ‘Wild West’ that is the secondary market for collectibles nowadays.
Unfortunately there are far too many variables to be able to suggest a market pricepoint or value for a piece, not least of which is its condition. Time after time, Cybis sculptures are offered on eBay described as being “mint condition” and/or “no chips, cracks, repairs or missing pieces” when in fact there are indeed missing elements such as leaves, flowers, or what-have-you. And what are the odds that the seller has thoroughly examined the piece under a blacklight, to check for prior repairs? Slim to none, probably.
In an effort to give some perspective on intrinsic value, I do include each sculpture’s original Cybis issue price at introduction if it is known at the time of writing; if unknown, and I later find — from an official piece of Cybis literature, not from a seller’s online listing! — this information, I will update the post. Cybis retailers were prohibited from ever running “sales”, and the studio never reduced their retail prices either; thus if a piece was currently priced at $395 there was no way to buy it at retail at that time for less.
For those open (non-limited) editions that have been retired and for limited editions that have been completed, if I know the ‘ending’ retail price I will indicate that as well, in a format such as “introduced in 1968 at $450, completed in 1974 at $825.” If a completed/retired price isn’t indicated, that means I do not (at present) know what it was.
Some sculpture descriptions may include an interim retail price even though I do not know the final/ending price. For example, it may say “issued in 1979 at $495, which rose to $550 by 1988; closing year and price are unknown.” This at least gives an idea of the price trajectory and shows that the final retail price was at least the amount stated; it could, of course have been more depending how much longer it was produced.
The one exception to not showing current pricing in the Archive is sculptures that are still currently listed for sale directly from the Cybis studio on their website (Cybis no longer has any retail partners.) Such pieces will be noted as “current Cybis price $…” or “on the current Cybis site at $..” in their description. It should be noted that the Cybis website has not been updated since the end of 2008, but because that is their only venue those prices have to be considered “current retail” even though it is now eight years later. If/when the Cybis website is removed, all of those prices here will be reworded as “final Cybis retail price.”
The pricing details outlined above are the only “market value” items of information that I offer. I dislike all so-called “price guides” because they often are light-years away from the real-world secondary market. The fact that a Scarlett was sold for $80 in December 2015 by on online auction house (condition described as “very good”, whatever that meant) and that another can be had at this moment on eBay for $575, illustrates the impossibility of suggesting ‘market’ prices for art porcelain sculptures such as these.
A separate post addressing the question of “Where can I sell my Cybis?” can be found here.
I do believe that it is useful to know how Cybis were once valued by the retail market because, after all, people were buying them at those very prices at the time. In fact, even from a purely financial (rather than a collector’s) standpoint these sculptures should be bringing far, far more on the secondary market than they currently do. Take for example the closing price of Scarlett: $825 in 1974. Plug those figures into any online inflation calculator, such as the one on saving.org, and you’ll get a 2015 equivalent value of $4193!
Another detail you may see from time to time in posts is the notation “sculpted by (whoever)”. Cybis never advertised the designers of their pieces, and so in those instances where I do know the sculptor’s name I will add that information. Often these artists worked for different studios and/or in different mediums (both ceramic and bronze, for example) and collectors of their works may be interested to know which Cybis pieces these artists produced. Because I believe in giving credit where credit is due: the Cybis Honor Roll contains a list of all the Cybis artisans that I have been able to find; this is an ongoing effort that I hope to someday complete. There is also a series of Cybis Artist Profiles showcasing specific artists.
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