As you will
notice, the system is designed to minimize personal opinion and bias, and
maximize reliance on actual market data. However, the human element
is still necessary, for the occasional glitches and inconsistencies that
do pop up. The majority of collectible common products will have baselines of 6
or 7. See this page for descriptions of condition
levels.**Formulas**

The information that follows details the
procedures currently used by The Acaeum Valuation Board
to calculate estimated values for items. All items on the site are currently being tracked,
with the exception of "foreign" (non-U.S.) items.

**CALCULATION PROCEDURE: Rarity 1
& 2 Items**

The procedure for determining the values of rarity 1 & 2 items is necessarily
simple. There is not enough manpower to go into hundreds of completed
auctions a week, gauge conditions, check for incompleteness, etc.
Instead, the only details that are needed from each sale are the final price,
the date, and the auction number (or other source).

Unlike rarity 3+ items, there is usually an abundance of data. Data
elements older than 9 months can be thrown out.

If there is no sale data for an item in the given timeframe, use the old
values. Do not change them. If an item has no sale data for
3 quarters running, begin a thread discussion asking the Board if the item’s
rarity should be increased to 3.

To cull the values from eBay, do a completed items search under Toys & Hobbies.
Only count those items which actually sold. Items with zero bids,
or items that fail to meet a reserve, are ignored. Auctions for multiple-item
lots (A1+A2+B2+I1, etc.) must also be ignored, because it is impossible
to determine how much was spent on each module. (Dividing by 4, for example,
would give erroneous results.) Focus only on single-item auctions.
Search for accurate descriptions only (A1 Slave, B2 Keep, etc.). Poorly-described
commons can not be relied on to give accurate data, so don’t bother to look
for them. You can make individual exceptions for items that currently
have no data.

Once all data has been gathered, sum all of the sales values for each item
(add them all together). Divide this amount by the total number of
data elements to obtain the average sale price. For example, if you
have data for 10 A1 modules, and the sale prices total $80.47, then the
average value for A1 is ($80.47 / 10 =) $8.05.

All condition values for the item will be derived from this average.
Don’t worry about the highest and lowest values seen in eBay auctions –
it is too much work to recreate a sliding scale every time these values
change. All you are interested in is the average sale price.

To determine where the average value should be placed on the condition scale,
use the following procedure.

First, note the earliest copyright date for the item in question.
For module G1, for example, this is 1978. This date will be used to
determine the baseline condition – the condition to which the average sale
price is applied. The reasoning is that older items will usually be
in Poorer condition on average, and that collectors are more willing to
accept Poorer items in such circumstances. (For example, people are
more forgiving of the condition of a pastel D3, released in 1978, than they
are of a Poor B10, which was released in 1986.) The baseline condition
for each item is set as follows:

**Copyright 1977 or earlier (classic
D&D)**: Baseline condition 5 **1978 to 1981 (classic AD&D, Moldvay
D&D)**: Baseline condition 6 **1982 to 1988 (late AD&D, Mentzer D&D)**:
Baseline condition 7 **1989 to 1999 (2nd edition AD&D)**:
Baseline condition 8 **2000 to 2005 (3.0 and 3.5 D&D)**:
Baseline condition 9

Note that even brand new items never have a baseline condition of 10 (Mint).
This is because a Fair number of items, even fresh off the press, would
not hold up to a “Mint” grading. They all do come close, however,
so new releases have a baseline of 9 (Near Mint).

As an example, if you’re dealing with module A1, the copyright date is 1980.
The baseline condition is therefore 6. You may remember from the above
example that the average sale price for A1 was $8.05. Therefore, the
value of a condition 6 A1 is set at $8.05. The value of all A1 modules
of lower condition (1 to 5) will be lower than $8.05, and the value of all
A1 modules of higher condition (7 to 10) will be higher than $8.05.
How much higher or lower? That’s the next step.

The gradient scale is dependent on baseline condition.

**For baseline condition 5 items:**

The value at condition 10 is 200% of the average.

The value at condition 9 is 180% of the average.

The value at condition 8 is 160% of the average.

The value at condition 7 is 140% of the average.

The value at condition 6 is 120% of the average.

The value at condition 5 is equal to the average.

The value at condition 4 is 80% of the average.

The value at condition 3 is 60% of the average.

The value at condition 2 is 40% of the average.

The value at condition 1 is 20% of the average.

The value at condition 0 is 10% of the average.

(Mint baseline 5 items are old and rare, and their values should reflect
that.)

**For baseline condition 6 items:**

The value at condition 10 is 180% of the average.

The value at condition 9 is 160% of the average.

The value at condition 8 is 140% of the average.

The value at condition 7 is 120% of the average.

The value at condition 6 is equal to the average.

The value at condition 5 is 80% of the average.

The value at condition 4 is 60% of the average.

The value at condition 3 is 40% of the average.

The value at condition 2 is 20% of the average.

The value at condition 1 is 10% of the average.

The value at condition 0 is 5% of the average.

(Mint baseline 6 items are slightly more common, and so they can’t attain
the 200% ceiling.)

**For baseline condition 7 items:**

The value at condition 10 is 160% of the average.

The value at condition 9 is 140% of the average.

The value at condition 8 is 120% of the average.

The value at condition 7 is equal to the average.

The value at condition 6 is 80% of the average.

The value at condition 5 is 60% of the average.

The value at condition 4 is 40% of the average.

The value at condition 3 is 20% of the average.

The value at condition 2 is 10% of the average.

The value at condition 1 is 5% of the average.

The value at condition 0 is 2% of the average.

(Mint baseline 7 items are unusual, but can be found easily with patience.
For this reason, the ceiling should not exceed 160%.)

**For baseline condition 8 items:**

The value at condition 10 is 140% of the average.

The value at condition 9 is 120% of the average.

The value at condition 8 is equal to the average.

The value at condition 7 is 85% of the average.

The value at condition 6 is 70% of the average.

The value at condition 5 is 55% of the average.

The value at condition 4 is 40% of the average.

The value at condition 3 is 25% of the average.

The value at condition 2 is 10% of the average.

The value at condition 1 is 5% of the average.

The value at condition 0 is 2% of the average.

(Mint baseline 8 items are common. Conditions below the baseline devalue
quickly, because normal wear and tear won’t be evident; the item will have
been actively abused.)

**For baseline condition 9 items:**

The value at condition 10 is 120% of the average.

The value at condition 9 is equal to the average.

The value at condition 8 is 90% of the average.

The value at condition 7 is 80% of the average.

The value at condition 6 is 65% of the average.

The value at condition 5 is 50% of the average.

The value at condition 4 is 35% of the average.

The value at condition 3 is 20% of the average.

The value at condition 2 is 5% of the average.

The value at condition 1 is 2% of the average.

The value at condition 0 is 1% of the average.

(Mint baseline 9 items are an everyday occurrence. Conditions 7-8 are average
after moderate use. Conditions lower than that indicate heavy use or mistreatment,
and therefore their values slide off quickly.)

These percentages come from my research and personal experience. The
Board moderator may lobby to change them, if a need is seen to do so.
Be aware that doing so creates a lot of work and everything will need to
be recalculated. Be especially careful changing the calculations for
baseline 6 and 7, where most of the oft-used values lie. Also avoid
the temptation to increase the high-condition values of baseline 8 and 9,
as you may end up with results that give the illusion of false demand for
these items. It is best to let the system work as designed for at
least 3 months, to learn its workings, before making drastic changes.

Values are simplified for public consumption (and ease in HTML coding).
All values are rounded off to the nearest dollar. $4.63 is rounded up to
$5. $10.13 is rounded down to $10. $12.50 is rounded up to $13. The
minimum value for any item at any condition is $0 – you will see this occur
for some modules at condition level 0 (Poor).

The next step is to apply these smoothed values to the Acaeum condition
scale. The Acaeum scale is as follows (note that Mint is not being
calculated):

**Near Mint** = Condition 10

**Very Fine** = Condition 9

**Fine** = Condition 7.5

**Very Good** = Condition 6

**Good** = Condition 4.5

**Fair** = Condition 2.5

**Poor** = Condition 1.0

As you can see, some of the conditions are integers, some are not.
Conditions Near Mint (10), Very Fine (9), Very Good (6), and Poor (1) can
be taken directly from your baseline calculation figures without modification.
Conditions Fine (7.5), Good (4.5) and Fair (2.5), however, need to be recalculated
as follows:

To determine the value at condition 7.5, add together the values for condition
8 and condition 7, and divide by 2. (For example, if the values are condition87
= $8.00 and condition 7 = $7.00, then the value for condition 7.5 is ($8.00
+ $7.00) / 2 = $7.50.)

To determine the value at condition 4.5, add together the values for condition
5 and condition 4, and divide by 2.

To determine the value at condition 2.5, add together the values for condition
3 and condition 2, and divide by 2.

You now have accurate valuations for all condition levels for that item.
Present these smoothed values to the Board for discussion and adjustment.

The process may seem laborious, but it gives good valuations at least 95%
of the time, and much of it is automated in the Excel spreadsheet.
The time-intensive part is actually going into eBay and digging out the
values.

**CALCULATION PROCEDURE: Rarity 3,
4 & 5 Items**

The procedure for valuating rarity 3-5 items is more complex, and less accurate.
The problem is that there is very little data – even if you stretch things
out over years. Simply put, rarity 5 items are just not sold very
often. I would say that this system provides valid valuations about
70-75% of the time. However, every valuation at this level will require
some form of discussion. If the numbers are not applied with experience
and common sense, they become useless.

It is equally important not to disregard the numbers the system provides.
The system is in place to maximize the existing market data as much as possible,
so that it can be used to its fullest extent. If the numbers are ignored
and valuations are applied through intuition only, The Acaeum Valuation
Board becomes less an analyzer of the actual market, and more a dictator
of what individuals want the market to be. This would represent a
serious conflict of interest for collectors on the Board, and would tarnish
The Acaeum’s reputation. Change the numbers, but be responsible in
doing so. Keep in mind that the data represents actual sales and actual
money that people have been willing to pay. These numbers are therefore
worthy of consideration, because they represent the actual market, not the
desired or imagined one.

Data older than 2000 has been archived and invalidated (weighted to zero).
This is because The Acaeum’s existence has created a massive increase in
the total awareness of D&D collectors around the world.

**The Process**

Most of this process is automated in Excel; the following is explanation.
It is the responsibility of the Board moderator to keep the spreadsheets
updated as new data arrives, and to weight the data accordingly.

As an example of each step, we will determine the value of module R1 To
the Aid of Falx. Example entries are notated with
*>>>*.

**[1] ** The data elements (individual sales) for the item in question
are counted.

*>>>There are currently 13 individual elements
for R1.*

**[2] ** The total value for all of the elements is calculated.

*>>>For R1, these 13 sales total to $1,557.33.*

**[3]** The total weighted condition for all of the elements is
calculated. (Weighted condition is looked at instead of base condition,
to allow for adjustments for incompleteness and shrinkwrap, since The Acaeum
doctrine is currently that shrinkwrap will be a qualifier only, not a condition
level, and that incompleteness degrades value.)

**Weighted conditions are as follows:**

• For an incomplete item, the weighted condition equals the actual condition
x 0.5.

*>>>An incomplete R1 with an actual condition
of 7 has a weighted condition of (7 x 0.5 =) 3.5.*

• For a shrinkwrapped item, the weighted condition equals the actual condition
x 1.5.

*>>>A shrinkwrapped R1 with an actual condition
of 10 has a weighted condition of (10 x 1.5 =) 15.*

• For an item that is neither incomplete nor shrinkwrapped, the weighted
condition is equal to the actual condition.

Grade the condition of each item individually, and weight them accordingly,
by going into the auction descriptions after the auctions are complete.
This is time-consuming, but necessary.

*>>>For R1, these 13 sales total to a weighted
condition of 96.0.*

**[4]** Crunch determination: The "crunch" for the item is
now calculated. Crunch is equal to the total value, divided by the
total weighted condition. This is the average price paid for the item,
per condition point.

*>>>For R1, the crunch is $1,557.33 divided
by 96, which is $16.22.*

Crunch values are also called historical values, because they have equal
regard for numbers from 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. This
makes crunch conservative - it perfectly acknowledges recent trends, but
is not overly swayed by them. For crunch, 2005's rare market is just
as important as 2000's.

**[5]** The calculated value of the item at each condition level
can now be determined.

(Note that this portion of the system has been greatly simplified.
Originally, there was a sliding scale, in which a Fair rarity 5 item was
worth more, percentage-wise, than a Fair rarity 3 item, due to increased
demand. This concept has been removed due to it being mostly discarded
by the Board. Whether something like it is reinstated is a matter
for the Board moderator to decide).

Multiply the crunch by each condition level to determine the item’s value
at that condition level.

*>>>The crunch (not actual) values of R1
are as follows:
Condition 10 value = (crunch $16.22 x 10) = $162.20
Condition 9.5 value = (crunch $16.22 x 9.5) = $154.09
Condition 9 value = (crunch $16.22 x 9) = $145.98
Condition 8.5 value = (crunch $16.22 x 8.5) = $137.87
Condition 8 value = (crunch $16.22 x 8 ) = $129.76
Condition 7.5 value = (crunch $16.22 x 7.5) = $121.65
Condition 7 value = (crunch $16.22 x 7) = $113.54
Condition 6.5 value = (crunch $16.22 x 6.5) = $105.43
Condition 6 value = (crunch $16.22 x 6) = $97.32
Condition 5.5 value = (crunch $16.22 x 5.5) = $89.21
Condition 5 value = (crunch $16.22 x 5) = $81.10
Condition 4.5 value = (crunch $16.22 x 4.5) = $72.99
Condition 4 value = (crunch $16.22 x 4) = $64.88
Condition 3.5 value = (crunch $16.22 x 3.5) = $56.77
Condition 3 value = (crunch $16.22 x 3) = $48.66
Condition 2.5 value = (crunch $16.22 x 2.5) = $40.55
Condition 2 value = (crunch $16.22 x 2) = $32.44
Condition 1.5 value = (crunch $16.22 x 1.5) = $24.33
Condition 1 value = (crunch $16.22 x 1) = $16.22 *

Near Mint = Condition 10 = $120.00

The crunch values are now assessed in comparison.

>>>For R1, the Near Mint crunch value of $162.22 exceeds the Acaeum Near Mint assessment of $120.00. This tells us that R1 has been on the rise, that the current Acaeum valuation is probably too low, and that it will need to be looked at by Board members, and possibly readjusted. But we're not done yet. There's still a lot more factors to consider.

Near Mint = Condition 10 = $162.20

Very Fine = Condition 9 = $145.98

Fine = Condition 7.5 = $129.76

Very Good = Condition 6 = $105.43

Good = Condition 4.5 = $72.99

Fair = Condition 2.5 = $40.55

Poor = Condition 1 = $16.22

Explanation: Note that the reason the gaps are smaller at the top is that the conditions degrade in single point values (10-9-8 ). The drop from Very Fine to Fine is 1.5, from 9 down to 7.5, so the price drop there is a bit steeper. The drops are even bigger towards the bottom, dropping 2 full points from Very Good to Good. This accurately reflects the serious collector market, in that top-grade items are sought by everyone, but serious interest drops off considerably as the condition of the item in question drops below Very Fine.

Rant, feel free to pass over: Some collectors may wish that more of a premium were placed on Mint, as opposed to Near Mint. The reason this is not done is because we do not want to turn D&D collecting into the "Grail chase" and speculator market of comic books, where people may be willing to pay 20% more for a Near Mint piece that has 1 spine crease instead of 2. Mint items are always worth more, but are not dramatically overvalued above Near Mint. This is open to moderator and Board discussion, but I strongly suggest that Mint items not be given a further premium. Gradings are subjective anyway, and since most sales are done through eBay without physical contact, the surety of any Mint vs. Near Mint argument during an auction is questionable at best. End rant.

Back to our example. The new values for R1 are much higher than the current ones. Since this is a major shift, the changes will need to be discussed by the Board. But the new values are based on an extended analysis of all available data, and should be taken seriously.

Note that individual data elements can be removed from consideration, at the Board’s and moderator’s discretion. For example, if all of the data for a module points to a value of $50-$100, and a single auction comes along with a sale price of $500, that sale can be viewed as an aberration, and weighted to zero. The reason for this is to keep one ridiculous sale from permanently skewing the item’s sale history. Please note that when multiple “aberrations” appear for an item, this is more likely a market trend, a new reality to the value. Aberrations may be weighted back into the data when this occurs, again at Board discretion.

In this system, each year is given a weight, as follows:

2005:Weight 5

2004:Weight 4

2003:Weight 3

2002:Weight 2

2001-2000:Weight 1

1999 and earlier:Weight 0 (disregarded due to lack of overall collector awareness at that time)

Note that under the weighted system, the results of 2005 auctions are
5 times as important as the 2000-2001 ones. In other words, a high or low
auction that would sway the numbers by 20% in 2005 would only sway them
by 4% if it took place in 2000.

Some people may question why the added complexity of two sets of valuation
calculations is required. There are several reasons. First,
the pure historical valuations, taken alone, fall prey to stasis, and can
be regarded as too conservative once the market starts moving against them.
Second, the pure weighted valuations, taken alone, fall prey to current
market trends, leading to short-sighted bubbles that can lead to outrageous
recommendations. (As an example of bidder hysteria, note the two recent
auctions for ST1). Having both sets of numbers available for analysis
does four important things. First, it gives us a solid, conservative
historical baseline. Second, it gives us a sensitive gauge of current
market trends. Third, it shows us the current trend for the item (if
the 2005-weighted are higher than the historical then the item is rising,
if vice versa the item is falling). Fourth and most importantly, when
these numbers are averaged, they give us the best of both worlds - a logically
coherent, conservative set of valuations that remain responsive to current
trends, but not overly so.

**[9]** To that end, the 2005-weighted numbers can now be calculated.
Bear with me ...

To determine an item's market impact (that is, how much it sways the numbers),
the end auction price is divided by the weighted condition, and this result
is multiplied by the yearly weight (5 for 2005, 4 for 2004, etc.).

*>>>For example, one of the R1 modules in
the data went for $173.00 in 2004. It has a weighted condition of 9. The
weight of year 2004 is 4. The market impact of this R1 is equal to (173
/ 9) x 4 = 76.89.*

Note to the curious ("Yeah, but what does that mean?"): I could write 10
pages on all of the subtleties (good and bad) created by the market impact
variable, but that is beyond the scope of this essay. Suffice it to
say that recent items have more impact than old ones, high prices have more
impact than low ones (to correct for poorly-worded auctions, non-picture
auctions, unreliable sellers, etc), and that overall, the combined market
impacts of an item give an accurate numerical "impression" of the item's
demand, scarcity, and fluctuating collector interest over time. There
are a few pitfalls, however, caused by incomplete items, shrinkwrapped items,
and items that go for too much money. This is another reason to keep
the 2005-weighted calculations separate from the historical ones, because
any aberrations stick out like a sore thumb and can be corrected with intelligent
application. For example, if the Near Mint values of an item are $200
historical and $800 2005-weighted, you know that the market has been making
dramatic changes, but that the changes are so ridiculously dramatic that
you're likely looking at a market bubble and may need to tone things down.

**[10]** All market impact figures are summed for the item in question.

*>>>For R1, the total market impact is 809.99,
signifying heavy recent activity and collector interest.*

**[11]** All year weights are summed for the item in question.

*>>>For R1, the total year weights are 48,
which is quite high for just 13 data elements. This is because most
of the data comes from 2004 and 2005, which are weighted at 4 and 5 respectively.*

**[12]** The 2005-weighted crunch is now determined. This
number is similar to crunch, above, in that it gives us the average dollar
value per condition point paid for the item by collectors. However,
keep in mind that it is influenced by market impact, so if the current auctions
are high overall, the 2005-weighted crunch will be higher than the historical.
And vice versa of course (lower current auctions give values lower than
historical).

The 2005-weighted crunch is equal to the item's market impact sum, divided
by the summed year weights.

*>>>For R1, the market impact of 809.99
divided by the year weights of 48 gives a 2005-weighted crunch of $16.87.*

**[13]** The 2005-weighted crunch is multiplied by each condition
level to give the 2005-weighted calculated values. This is identical to
steps [5] to [7], above, but using the value determined in step [12].

*>>>Not as confusing as it sounds. In other
words, for R1, the 2005-weighted crunch of $16.87 is multiplied by 10, equaling
$168.70, to give the condition 10 value, then $16.87 is multiplied by 9
to give the condition 9 value, etc.*

**[14]** The historical and 2005-weighted crunch numbers are summed
and divided by 2. This gives an average between the two numbers, which
gives more accurate valuations over time, as I explained in step [8] above.
This gives the final calculated values for each condition level - in other
words, the data system's recommendations of what the item's value should
be.

*>>>I'm not going to show all the math,
because it's long. But for R1, the averaged values end up being as follows:
Near Mint = $165.49
Very Fine = $148.94
Fine = $132.39
Very Good = $107.57
Good = $74.47
Fair = $41.37
Poor = $16.55*

Issues that may come up during discussing and deeper analysis include, but are by no means limited to:

• Hard, provable data that is wildly different from current Acaeum valuations needs to be discussed

• Ridiculously high or low values may be dropped

• Highly unpredictable current auction values, where a Poor item sells well and a Near Mint item does not

• Old data may be dropped, if it is considerably higher or lower

• Item condition levels may be re-evaluated

• An item may be “held for valuation” pending the arrival of more data

*>>>As an example, when I was valuating
R1, I noted that the historical and 2005-weighted values were very similar.
The 2005-weighted were 4% higher than the historical, which tells us that
this item's value has been rising slightly in 2005. The final calculations
between these two, when analyzed, are considerably higher than the old Acaeum
numbers. So we can see that the overall market for R1 has actually
been increasing for quite a while. If we accept the data religiously,
we're forced to assign a Near Mint value of $165.49 and work on down.
However, I then looked more closely at the data, and noticed that the four
lowest prices recorded for R1 all took place in 2004, and two of those were
in nice condition. This tells me that the while the market is still
placing a higher value on R1 than in years past, it is not in unanimous
agreement. Some R1 auctions are trending downward. Because of
this, I decide after Board discussion to lower the values recommended by
the data by 15%. This gives values that are still over the old Acaeum
numbers, to reflect the increasing market, but it also acknowledges the
recent sporadic downward trends as well, tempering the enthusiasm of the
high valuations recommended by the data. For those who are interested,
my final recommendations on R1's value as of October 31, 2004 are as follows
(these numbers are data minus 15%, smoothed for simplicity, see step [16]
below):
$140 NM
$125 VF
$115 FN
$90 VG
$65 GD
$35 FR
$14 PR *

If you've read this far and your head has not exploded, congratulations. You now know how the limited market data we receive on rare items is analyzed to within an inch of its life, and then carefully applied with human intelligence to arrive at the final values.

*Written and designed by Kent Kelly.*

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