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News Article
Billed as ’$100,000 Pez’ astronaut doesn’t quite blast off
HOLT, Mich. – It was billed as the $100,000 PEZ Dispenser; but, with all the PEZ world watching, it came up quite a bit short.

After the smoke cleared from the 10-day eBay auction, the dispenser sold for $32,205, still a hugely respectable amount and a record for a PEZ dispenser by a long shot as long as the sale is completed.

Jason Mitchell, who listed the item for its owners, said the $32,205 high bidder was from Singapore. Attempts to arrange payment have yielded nothing in the first days after the auction.

"I don’t like the sound of it so far," Mitchell said. "They (the bidder) looked to be low level collectors."

None of the underbidders, beyond the $30,000 reserve, appeared to have a history of buying items within the four-figure, let alone five-figure, ranges.

The dispenser, inscribed with “1982 World’s Fair, Knoxville, Tennesse” (Tennessee is misspelled on the piece) on the side, is owned by SuEllen Headley and her husband, Dean F. DuVall. The dispenser features an astronaut with a white helmet and green stem.

While the eBay listing said this was the only example, PEZ collectors say there are at least two. The second PEZ, recently found and photographed, has a blue stem and matching helmet, in addition to the same inscription on the side.

Attempts to contact DuVall and Headley were unsuccessful.

The description on the auction included: "Yes, this IS the fabled one-and-only PEZ gossiped about for years by hobbyists, collectors and investors, as well as being the subject of articles in magazines, newsletters, websites and blogs. It has been suggested by several enthusiasts that this is the first and only PEZ to possibly fetch one hundred thousand dollars if ever offered at auction."

While on auction, the dispenser was the third highest watched item on eBay. The auction listing had 55,480 hits, and more than 3,000 watchers.

The listing started at $500, had a $30,000 reserve and a "Buy It Now" for $100,000.

The statement that the offering was "the first and only PEZ" and that "several enthusiasts" suggested that the PEZ was worth $100,000 has been a contentious point among PEZ collectors. The value of the dispenser, which completed its 10-day run on Sunday, Aug. 27, remains a hot topic in the PEZ world.

"I think $100,000 is insane," Diane Leigh Davison, an attorney and adjunct law professor, said. "I’m a collector and I would never pay that much."

John LaSpina, a collector and author of an annual PEZ price guide, sold the PEZ listed on eBay about 10 years ago for $981 during a phone auction.

"I received it from the son of a former PEZ employee," LaSpina said. "The buyer sold it to its current owner several years later. It is one of two that is currently known, but us PEZ collectors know, more probably exist.

"I personally put its value at around $10,000," LaSpina said.

DuVall, who publishes and sells personal success material, paid for an advertisement in Pez Collector’s News in April 1999. Under the headline, "Only for the Big Spender," the ad went on to say it was the only known example of the particular dispenser and maintained it was a sound investment at $100,000.

Richard Belyski, editor of Pez Collector’s News, remembers the advertisement. He also has a copy of a book written by DuVall, and published by DuVall Press Financial Publications. How You May Earn Huge Profits from PEZ was published by DuVall in 1993. The 75-page booklet promises that "you can make up to $1,000 a week or more" by following DuVall’s suggestions.

PEZ collector, dealer and author David Welch was critical of the recent eBay auction. He contacted eBay on at least two occasions, insisting they pull the item from the auction.

"I am absolutely stunned they (eBay) let this auction run," Welch said. "The thing that bothers me, it’s not the item – it’s a rare item – it’s a good item, but the hype around it is false. The $100,000 price concept was initiated by the owner."

Welch argues, and many PEZ collectors agree, that if two World’s Fair dispensers are uncovered, more must exist.

"They (the PEZ company) didn’t just make two of these, it’s just not possible," he said. "If eBay has taught us anything, it’s that time is not on your side once you make the claim that you have the only one of any item."

The record for a PEZ dispenser is currently $11,121.11 for a 1950 gold-plated (simulated) space gun, according to Belyski. Formerly, the highest price for Pez dispensers was held by Welch who sold three dispensers for $6,000 apiece.

Ironically, the giant eBay was created in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar who came up with the novel idea of auctioning PEZ dispensers online.

Eric C. Rodenberg

8/31/2006
Comments For This Post
Posted by  DEAN F. V. Du Vall, Sr  on Sep 2 2006 1:34PM
Email: DAXRICH@DAXFAX.COM
Comment: Mr. Rodenberg: If you'd like the ''true skinny'' on what you've written about in your piece, go to DAXRICH.COM, and click on the PEZ link - upper lefthand corner of the HOME page. Robin W. Butcher (for) Mr. Du Vall and Ms. Headley Posted by  Ty Tribble  on Sep 2 2006 8:06PM
Email: ty@tribble.org
Comment: Actually eBay was not created to auctioning off PEZ, that;s a fabrication by eBay's public reations manager in 1997 to interest the media. Guess it works. Posted by  Mark Lambert  on Nov 11 2006 11:55PM
Email: hidalgo@mchsi.com
Comment: Mr. Rodenberg, two things spring to my mind: 1) The price or value of something is what a buyer is willing to pay. If Du Vall & Headley thought it was worth that much and said so, what's the big deal? That's how much they thought it might fetch, and the auction would tell them if they are right or not. I collect old pulp magazines, and sometimes people offer them for sale on ebay and price them at a level that I consider to be too high; usually the item doesn't sell, or sometimes it does, because the right person who is willing to part with that sum, and who fiercely wants the item, happens to look at the auction. 2) Why in the world would some other PEZ collector (Welch) ask that the auction be pulled? Man, that guy must have been insanely jealous; apparently he just couldn't stand that someone might sell something rare for a high price. So Mr. Welch was "stunned" that ebay let the auction run?! Huh?!? Someone needs to explain to Mr. Welch that that's how capitalism works, and that bringing buyers and sellers together is ebay's function. Welch was upset at the hype in someone else's auction? Apparently he has too much time on his hands, or maybe IWelch was upset that he couldn't afford the item and he wanted it to sell for a lower price. If he was "upset with the hype" his option was not to bid on the item. Let's see, if someone offered a Doc Savage #1 pulp magazine for sale for $100,000, I wouldn't buy it, but I sure as heck wouldn't demand that ebay pull the ad because I thought it was overpriced! Sheesh! If someone out there pays that seller that amount of money, more power to him/her! Kudos to ebay for not being willing to pull the ad because of Welch's odd view of the situation. Posted by  Mark Lambert  on Nov 12 2006 12:05AM
Email: hidalgo@mchsi.com
Comment: I just took the first poster's advice and went to daxrich.com and read the PEZ story first-hand. Apparently, it wasn't Mr. Welch who wrote those things, but someone using his name. My apologies to Mr. Welch for my reaction, if those are not his actual quotes in the article above. I stand by my comments toward the person that actually made them!!
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