Picking Journal: I Live For This Stuff

First of all, want to send out my wishes that everyone who celebrates Hannukah and Christmas had awesome holidays; the Allen household had a pretty great time.

Things have, of course, been a little quiet on Shaggin the Muse, as is the norm for this time of year. Important things to tend to in real life – not that my writing career is unimportant (far from it, I’ve just signed on to do two shows next year, with two more in the pipeline), but the holidays are important to me for connecting with friends and family. You can definitely expect things to heat up again here in the near future.

I’d like to talk about something outside of my writing career today. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I wanted to discuss my picking career a little more on the site, and today I had an amazing stroke of luck that I wanted to share, hence the title of this post.

By the way, we had a great holiday season for sales; this looked to be a much improved year from last year, when the doldrums really took hold and we couldn’t count on much from buyers. I don’t know what’s changed exactly. Could be that the economy is improving. Could have been a result of focusing on a niche and putting more effort and money into that niche. Either way, I’m happy with the results, and I want to keep that momentum going.

Now, back to the pick. Like I said, I live for this stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across something exceptionally old or rare in thrift stores that grab hold of my imagination. Sometimes those things just don’t fit my niche and I have to pass; I saw a sweet reel-to-reel recorder a few months back that had to pass for just that reason. Nice, but not the kind of thing that I sell.

Today, those worlds intersected. I hit up a couple of my usual haunts, coming up fairly dry at the first place; they do bigger sales on the weekends and so are kind of in the phase between Christmas and Valentines, leaving a lot of empty shelf space. I scared up a few minor finds, mostly software and PC games that will earn a profit of a buck or two. Nothing major, but the kind of stuff that you have to build your business around.

The second store, however, ah, that’s where I struck gold. They’ve already completed the Valentine’s transition and had put out a couple of tables of new stuff. I saw some things that caught my eye, including a semi-rare Playstation 2 Game that was still sealed and should fetch close to 50 bucks. Not bad at all, but not really worth sharing.

Then I saw the second table, and I spotted these:



For those who don’t know what these are, board wargames have been a cottage industry for quite some time, originating in the early 70s, generally considered its heyday, and lasting up to today, though it’s something of a genre without a standard bearer these days. One of the real stars of that era was Avalon Hill, who popularized the genre. I’m not even a huge board gamer or into war games and I knew the name Avalon Hill, so when I saw it on these boxes, I knew I had stumbled across something special. The thrift store was selling these for $3.99 with a blanket 20% off, so I knew I had to have them. Here’s a look at what I found.

Rise and Decline


Rise and Decline of the Third Reich is kind of the star of this group. This is the first edition, published in 1974, and it’s a full-blown, complete game that allows gamers to play through the European theater of World War 2. I was really pleased to find that not only was the box in great shape, but all the parts were still included. This is a huge deal as these games included hundreds of little punch cards that gamers would have to punch out in order to play the game properly. This gives you an idea of what the box included:

Rise and Decline Open


This set has basically been unused for almost 40 years. Add a rabid fanbase to a collectible like this and you can imagine I’m looking at some pretty good money – I’m going to ask $70 for it. Given what I paid, I feel pretty comfortable with that profit margin.

The other two boxes are “gamettes”, which we would call expansions these days. Both of them are for the board game Squad Leader and include new scenarios and maps. Like Rise and Decline, these had also gone unpunched over the years, though their relative newness (Cross of Iron dates to 1978 while Crescendo of Doom is from late 1979/early 1980) means that they’re worth a little less. I think I can still get $60 for each, though.

Cross of Iron

Crescendo of Doom


These prices are pretty incredible for vintage boardgames. I once owned a Parcheesi game from the 1940s, complete, and it only sold for $20, so you can see that these things hold their value extremely well.

Like I said, I live for these kinds of finds. It’s not even necessarily the profit, though that’s great; it’s more a matter of learning the history of these items and being able to touch and interact with something that you just don’t get to see every day. Passing this on to people who can appreciate it is honestly a bonus.

If you’re curious and would like to pick these up, they’re available in our storefront, Brown Pig Brown. I’d also like to hear if someone else knows more about the history of these games or might have played them once upon a time.

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