Imagine finding out that your tape collection could be worth thousands – a jackpot hiding for you in the attic. It would be amazing, right?
Flying around the internet are many rumours and myths about the money you could make from rare VHS tapes. For example, if you have done any research around selling VHS tapes online, you will have seen that Disney’s Black Diamond editions sell for thousands. It is a teasing headline that gives the impression selling your Disney tape collection could be easier than expected. However, Snopes recently debunked this myth, and there is a good reason why.
Family films, like Disney’s animation collection, were popular to buy on tape. They were great for children to watch again and again. The majority of families owned at least one Disney animation on VHS. Hence, the vast popularity of Disney films and other blockbusters has made it difficult to sell on tape, and the Black Diamond editions do not sell for the thousands of pounds claimed by Daily Mail and The Sun.
Thankfully, some tapes do make money, and I’ve made a couple of rules (well, guidelines) to determine whether you own them.
Rule 1: Find The Tapes Not Released Onto DVD
Without a doubt, the rarer the tape, the higher it will sell. As mentioned earlier, mainstream films do not sell for as much as you would like. The key to making money from tapes is selling films out of print (OOP).
OOP are films never released onto DVD. A quick check on the film’s Wikipedia page will give you information on its’ distribution to tell whether your tape is an OOP. One thing to note is that many OOP valuable VHS tapes tend to be B-movie horror or banned films.
Low budget horror films and banned (or ‘video nasty’) films go hand in hand. This overlap is because of the Video Recordings Act in 1984, which meant that every home movie had to be certified by the BBFC (British Board of Film Censors). Subsequently, many rare B-movie horror films broke the censorship guidelines due to explicit and violent scenes.
Now, these banned and OOP horror films sell for a fortune; for example, Don’t Open The Window has recently sold for £250 on eBay. Likewise, if you happen to own a film from Knockout or Trytel, they are said to be of high value by a VHS expert because of the production’s micro-budgets and small home movie distribution.
Rule 2: Valuable VHS Tapes Are Collectables
Time has served VHS tapes well. They are a beautiful time capsule back to the eighties and nineties— especially rare releases of home movies that contained original edits or mistakes in the tape case’s artwork.
First releases of films are often valuable to collectors because they contain scenes and mistakes that are not in later releases. Again, horror films typically sell for more money. The first edition of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre recently sold for $405 (£291) on eBay because it is pre-certified as the Video Recording Act came in after its release.
Similarly, Halloween sells for a few hundred pounds if you have the VHS tape released by Media Home Video. Especially if you happen to have the 1978 release of Halloween with the misspelling of Media (Meda), you are really in the money. This incredibly rare and sought after tape sold for over $1300 (£937) in 2013! Sadly, last month this same version only made $350 (£250).
Let’s be honest; not many of us owned a vast collection of rare horror film tapes.
So, there is another way to tease people into buying your tapes as a collectable item. One way to do this is to pay IGS (Investment Grade Service) to grade your videos. They will assess the quality of your VHS and place it in a sealed display box.
By searching through eBay’s sold page for IGS-sealed VHS tapes, you will see tonnes of videos selling for up to thousands of pounds. For example, Empire Strikes Back sold for £1440.66 because it is in mint condition and sealed by IGS.
However, there is a word of warning with grading VHS tapes: collecting videotapes is a recent investment that has many underlying problems. To find out more, I advise you to read our article on whether you should grade your videotapes. It is a comprehensive guide explaining why collectors choose to grade their tapes and whether it is worth the money.
Rule 3: Nostalgia Pays For More Than You’d Expect
Okay, the last rule for selling your tapes is intangible and, to be frank, based on luck. Nostalgia can make people silly with money, especially when a video reminds someone of their childhood. If you own an obscure children’s film or television show that is not shown on TV anymore, you have a good chance of making a bit of pocket money.
By targeting the right audience and putting a reasonable price on the tape, you can profit from selling (even though it won’t be in the thousands).
Similarly, live music concerts can make a pretty penny because of fans’ nostalgia for concerts a long time ago – or just not having the opportunity to see the artist at the time. You can sell legit recordings of a show or even your home recording for money.
Nineties artists are always a popular choice for people to buy, and funnily enough, this is the only genre of valuable VHS tapes where owning a well-known title is good.
However you decide to market and sell your tapes, ensure you do your research around the value of the tapes. There is plenty of online information, and even having a quick check on what has sold on eBay will help you price your tapes correctly. The general rule for selling is the more niche, the better.
Before you choose to sell any of your valuable VHS tapes, make sure you have a digital backup. Convert your old videotapes to DVD, USB or cloud with Digital Converters – the number one video digitisation service in the UK.