I spent all day on Saturday, May 3, 2003, at the second auction of Sid Sackson's amazing game collection in Keyport, New Jersey.
The first auction of Sackson's collection is believed to have included more than 10,000 games. This one was smaller in scale, with about 8,000 games being sold to the highest bidders.
And where the first one started with bids of $130 and $150 for sets of three boxes full of games, this one started with bids of $10 for a lot of two games and $5 for a collection of magazines. The crowd was much smaller (less than half the size, by my estimation), and prices were, overall, lower.
Certain prized games still brought in high dollar amounts -- $650 for a lot including The Next War and other war games, $325 for Infinity and several other shrink-wrapped games, $325 for a lot including Talisman, $250 for a lot of SPI boxed games, $190 for a lot including Dark Tower -- but there were many more bargains available this time around.
Other items that interested me for various reasons included:
- Tactics II, which sold with one other game for $10.
- A game titled Nuke Your Neighbor, which I bid on but eventually dropped out before it sold for $30. In retrospect, I wish I would have stayed in the auction a bit longer. The game's box cover actually looked like there was one house in a stereotypical suburban neighborhood being hit with a nuclear weapon. And how often do you see that?
- A batch of tube games that sold for $100 and included a version of Heimlich & Co., which has been released in the United States as Undercover and as Top Secret Spies.
More boxes of various paper products -- ranging from magazine collections (Games, Tactics & Strategy, The General, and others) to Sid's personal correspondence and (who knows?) perhaps even an unpublished prototype or two -- also were available. Some sold for a pittance, but the three I was interested in, because they looked to contain a significant amount of Sackson's personal papers, all went to other buyers for $100 or more.
The weather was better for this auction than it had been in November, with moderate temperatures and sunshine all day. The food also was better, and I can now vouch for the quality of hamburgers coming off the George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine.
And the auctioneers, who handled the auction as well as anyone could, continued to show an occasionally humorous lack of knowledge about the world of board games. In addition to calling SPI games "spy" games, as he did at the last auction, he said the following:
- In the most understandable flub, Merchant of Venus became "Merchant of Venice."
- Instead of Boggle Bowl, it became "Boogle Bowl."
- And my personal favorite: while selling a set of games by German publisher ASS, "Here are five more of these ass games."
This auction also was shorter than the first. After a somewhat late start around 11:15 a.m., everything was wrapped up by 4:45 p.m., just 5 hours and 30 minutes. The last auction lasted 2 hours longer than that.
Now the collection once owned by Sid Sackson is officially spread around the world. Many games from the first auction were sold on eBay, and there's no doubt that games from the second auction will find their way onto eBay as well.
But, looking for the silver lining, many of these games are now being played for the first time ever. (At least three of the several dozen games I picked up in the second auction were unpunched.) Others are being played for the first time in decades.
And games are definitely meant to be played.
This article was originally published on May 4, 2003.