Vintage board games: How to value?

From books to antiques and sports collectibles to cards, you can find a collector for everything, and board games are no exception. However, determining the true value of a board game is key to this hobby.

If you wish to buy or sell a particular game, you’ll need to do some research and learn its true value because this is the trickiest proposition. Some board games that are rare to find are worth way more than their original price, and you may come out on top with a good bargain. While it may not make you a millionaire overnight, but you can possibly earn a couple of thousand for a rare one, while other collectible board games may be worth a couple of hundred dollars.

Vintage board games have become one of the most in-demand collectibles these days. With this status comes the question of determining the value of board games. The prices of rare board games from the vintage era have spiked recently, while modern games are still available at very economical prices. Some board games such as “Be a Manager, 1967”, “Fortune, 1937”, and “Haunted House, 1962” are worth over a thousand dollars.

I have been a self-professed board games collector for a while. While I am not an expert in playing all of them, but I still learned quite a lot about their value and would like to share this skill with you. These basic guidelines will help you look for various elements that can help you gauge the value of a board game you wish to purchase or sell.

Table of contents


Factor to Determine the Value of Board Games

Not all board games are going to bring in big bucks. There are certain elements that can increase or decrease the value of the board game in question. So, let us have a look at what they are.

1.      The Age of the Board Game

Typically, for a board game to qualify as vintage, it must be at least 40 years old. That is the minimum time limit for any artwork, game, or product to become a vintage item. However, even many board games that came out in the last 30 years are rare to find. This can increase their value and demand among collectors.

That said, some of the old board games from the late 1800s and early 1900s can bring in a handsome amount. Not just that but well-known board games that came out in the mid-20th century are rare to find and can be worth a few thousand dollars.

For instance, “Be a Manager” from the year 1967 is currently worth around $1,500. Similarly, Fortune, 1935 is currently worth around $1,360 approx. However, this price may vary depending on the condition of the board game. The better condition it is in, the higher its price will be.

You must also remember that vintage board games aren’t necessarily worth more. Some games from the1950’s, such as Monopoly and Scrabble, are still commonly available at very low prices.

Rare Is Always Expensive

Being unique and hard to find is a common theme for most collectibles. Therefore, the rarer the board game, the higher its value. This is especially true for board games that were created for a special event. For example, Agent of Change, which came out in 1991, was a special edition published exclusively for West Virginia’s Huntington Museum of Art.

Now – although the game is not more than 30 years old, it falls within the category of rare board games. That is the reason why it is worth around $400 for a collector.

The Initial Price

If a board game was worth a lot when it came out and became a hit, chances are it will be worth considerably more now. It may come as a surprise to you, but the collector’s edition of War of the Ring board game sells for a price as high as around $5,000 or even more.

Other high-end games include Trivial Pursuit’s Ritzy version with silver-edged cards. In contrast, Swarovski Scrabble is a crystal-encrusted Scrabble game that is currently worth $20,000.

Does It Have All the Pieces

Another important factor to determine the value of board games is to check if it has all the pieces and we are speaking about the original pieces. Just like the poor condition of the game, any missing or replacement pieces will reduce the price of a collectible vintage board game. Yes, you can always purchase original missing pieces to complete your own vintage board game, but that is going to cost you considerably higher.

Its Genre

Some genres in board games are more desirable than others, like war games. This is one of the oldest board game genres with a huge fan following. Now, these are rare because the original fan base was not huge, hence the manufacturer never mass-produced these board games. Fast forward to 2021, they are rare to find due to their limited availability and even rare to find in good condition.

Generally, the more obscure the battle or war, the higher its price will be. The details and number of components can also be a determining factor when it comes to gauging the value of a board game. Miniature games in this genre tend to fall in the expensive spectrum of pricing. Warhammer, 40,000 is one such example that comes with a bunch of tiny figures for the gameplay.

Adult Games vs. Children Games

Typically, adult or teen board games are worth more than the ones made for children. This is again due to the limited quantity production of the former category. While most children would love to play a board game, that is why a manufacturer will mass-produce them. However, not all teens would be keen to buy or play board games. Therefore, these come out in limited quantity, making them collector’s items worth more than usual.

Where You Buy the Board Game

This may have never crossed your mind, but where you are shopping to buy a vintage board can make quite a difference in the price. While a board game like Fireball Island may sell for under $10 at a thrift store, it can bag around $50 at an online auction. You can literally go on auction sites like eBay and see people with cutthroat attitudes get their desired board games at ridiculous prices.

Some games that enjoy the status of being a cult classic can also be worth a lot of money on the right website or right Board Game Con.

Do you have a particular vintage board game in mind that you would like to buy or sell? Well, simply look at it and ensure it ticks most of the boxes (actually all of them ideally) to get the price that it deserves.

Check It Online

One more thing - knowledge is power is a perfect proverb here, so while you are scrutinizing the board games based on the above-mentioned criteria, it is good to search for the price online. This will give you a rough idea of the value of the board games you want.

Sites such as Amazon or eBay are two of the major platforms where you can search for board games and see their trending selling prices.

Do you think you have a valuable vintage board game? In that case, all you need is to do some research. Just make to check that your board is a rare edition from an in-demand genre and in prestigious condition. If all of these qualities are there, the chances are that you can get good money for this collectible gem. 

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