Vintage pattern prices usually tend to be fairly consistent. But have you ever noticed wildly different pricing from different sellers for the same pattern? Sure, some sites have prices that are always well above or below average. But I think what is interesting is when it's unclear whether a pattern is actually rare or not, resulting in many varying prices from site to site.
Take the pattern above, for instance. It's McCall's 6523, which I first saw sewn up beautifully on Joanne's blog here. Joanne mentions that she saw the pattern for $50+ on eBay, but then found it on Etsy for $10 the next day. Since I loved her version, I've been keeping my eye out ever since. And my experience was very similar to Joanne's.
I originally found the pattern on Etsy for $48. The seller sites an eBay auction (perhaps the same one Joanne saw), saying, "this pattern recently sold on an auction site for over $50." (I suppose $48 should seem like a bargain then?)
Doing another simple web search, I came across the pattern on eBay and quickly made a bid. To my surprise, I had no competing bidders and I won the auction for $3.99. The seller had very reasonable shipping rates, and all told, I spent under $5 for the pattern. Why such hugely different prices for the exact same pattern?
I have a theory, as you might be unsurprised to hear. Several years ago, I worked in a used and rare bookstore. My duties included buying and pricing rare and antiquarian books. While I suppose this does require a smidgen of literary knowledge, it mostly just requires being able to use the internet. You see, the way I was taught to decide on a price for a book was to see what the same edition in similar condition was selling for from various online dealers. Therefore, what other people were charging determined the cost of the item, not the actual value of said item.
Pattern sellers must use a similar system when lacking a better one (such knowing it's a high-profile designer pattern - a Claire McCardell for McCall's for instance). If a pattern has once before sold for $50, it must automatically be worth $50, right? Flawless logic indeed. Strangely, the high price tag seems to have been a fluke in the case of McCalls 6523. Though it will be interesting to see if the perceived value of this pattern will eventually make it actually valuable.
Anyway, enough of my theorizing. Would you like to see which patterns are currently the most expensive on eBay and Etsy? Of course you would.
On eBay, here's a lovely Simplicity ensemble, selling for $65.28. A reason for the high cost is not given.
On Etsy, the winner is this Vogue Special Design for $95, which the seller simply states is "very rare."
Isn't it interesting? There are no real guidelines out there for pattern pricing (as far as I know), so often we must take the seller's word on whether something is indeed rare or not. Of course, the condition of the item comes into play. But it seems that actual serious collectors of vintage patterns themselves are quite rare. The rest of us actually want to use them, so some damage to the pattern or envelope is no biggie.
Have you had similar experiences with pricing?