HOLOGRAM PRICING (and how we arrive at it). As the "Hologram Man", I want to be clear and direct on how and why I price my items as I do. The pricing of most things are market driven. Because holograms have a unique and small niche market, there are far less consumers interested in them than other collectibles. Further, there are really no "pricing models" for most holograms other than what they sold for originally, since the secondary (resale or collectible) markets are so small.
I started my first wholesale hologram company in 1982, which eventually had close to 1,000 museums, galleries and stores selling hologram products that I made or distributed. I also owned a number of hologram galleries and retail outlets in NYC and New England starting in 1984. To this day I make my living in commercial holography, though for the past two decades it has been in the security, promotional and advertising sectors of the field.
The field of "art holography" was never well defined in the elite art circles. Due to the difficulties to illuminate, the color and inherent subject matter (often driven by what "found objects" would create a good hologram), not to mention the questionable archival stability of the film, holography rarely enjoyed critical understanding or review. Though some major artists (such as Dali) got involved with holograms in the design phase, few if any "holography artists" were awarded any status in the "fine art world", though many were (are) truly great artists.
The primary film used for art holography was called "silver halide", and was produced by Illford and Agfa though completely discontinued in in the late 1990's. Though some artists persisted using old stocks of film and even new self-made or "specialty" emulsions (out of Russia for instance), the bulk of artistic holography was created before the year 2000. So as I am discussing pricing here, I am giving background to understand what goes into my pricing.
Photopolymer holography film is a highly stable material which tends to be much more efficient (brighter) than silver halide yet much less prone to degradation caused by moisture (humidity or otherwise) and UV light. It was a huge breakthrough in the mid-1980's, but the only two commercial players making it were Polaroid and DuPont, both of which required very high tooling costs and very large minimum runs.
I was an agent for Polaroid Holographics from 1984 to the time they closed their doors in 1997, and have been working as a licensed agent for DuPont from 1998 to the present. Therefor more than most anyone in the world, I have a good feel for what was produced when and in what quantity in each lab. Further, I managed to end up with a huge amount of the "end inventory" from the Polaroid labs, hence the large amount of it you see in my listings.
For silver halide, the base film used in artistic and scientific holography, there are many factors that determine quality and cost. Those include the relative fame of the artist creating it, whether it is on film or glass plates, how many were originally created, if they are signed or limited editions and how well known the particular image is. I own hundreds of art holograms in my collection and have access to a lot more through friends and colleagues. At present (2014), I tend to price these at double to quadruple their original retail prices, though if the collectible market continues they could be easily worth 10 to 20 times their original retail value in another decade. But no-one knows, so as with any art investment, best to invest in things you love and not worry about their value - and if they appreciate all the better!
I will begin to list my collection of "art and commercial art" holograms, though the majority of what I offer are "mass production holograms", so the rest of this description is focused on those.
Though numerous companies manufactured "film drive flexible film silver halide holograms", their product was never truly commercially viable due to the instability of the film and relatively low numbers in production. This leaves photopolymer and embossed type as our major offerings.
The embossed type holograms we offer were created originally by professional and sometimes actual artist holographers, the masters being in a specialized film called "photoresist". Without getting highly technical, these holograms were made to eventually be "micro embossed" into metalized film, generally MPET known to most as Mylar. The value of embossed holograms can be viewed in two ways. As a film, Mylar is very inexpensive and it runs without the need of an actual laser in replication and therefor the material itself is low cost. That being said, the setup costs for any run are very high (thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per image) and there is very little market for large deep image holograms, further what market there was died off two decades ago. Therefore, most of our embossed hologram offerings were artist created "on spec" to show the capabilities of a particular hologram laboratory, mostly in the 1980's. Because my business started then, I hold likely the bulk of the world's deep image embossed holograms, and price them according to how many I have left, the quality of the original embossing, and the fame of the artist that created the master. Most of the embossed holograms I offer, the masters are destroyed or no longer usable so whatever material is left is all there will ever be, others can be re-run but there are few facilities on the planet capable or funning them in their original quality, so I choose pricing also based on where it was originally run. Some would argue that embossed holograms have no intrinsic value, but I disagree and price them based on the factors I have mentioned and as a world renowned expert in the field, my belief in their value is as good as any.
For photopolymer, the situation is similar to embossed but for the most part there were only two original manufacturers, Polaroid (out of business since 1997) and DuPont (who stopped producing display type holograms in the year 2000). I own a great deal of the world's photopolymer display holograms. My prices are determined by the quantity I believe were ever created, how they were originally distributed, the holographer who "whot" the original master, crowd appeal of the image (Star Trex, Marvel, etc.), the quality of the product I am selling, and how many I have left. Many of the photopoloymer holograms I offer are at or below their original retail, some are many times higher. You may find the same holograms I offer for lower price, sometimes substantially - this can be either due to a lower quality version (more blemishes, discoloration not mentioned in the sale, etc.) or sometimes simply because someone has one or more and has no idea of the value other than what the originally paid - in this last case scoop it up as it is a real deal!
Bottom line is that our holograms are not necessarily better than others you find in the marketplace, but that I aim at full disclosure and sell products based on their true quality and value as best as I can determine. Once I have less than 100 (or 50 or 25) I begin increasing the price, the less I have (or believe I can get) the higher the price it's that simple.
If you have questions on value or anything else holography related, please ask - I try to answer all in a timely manner. Sincerely,
Peter the Hologram Man