The Art of Vintage Apple Collecting

The Apple I, first released by the Apple Computer Company in 1976, was designed and built by Steve Wozniak. His friend, Steve Jobs, had the idea of retailing the computer. Together they launched the computer with an introductory purchase price of US$666.66 (Wozniak "liked repeating digits") which is equivalent to US$2,870 in 2017. Two hundred Apple I computers were manufactured, and all except twenty-five of them sold over a period of ten months.

Since its launch the Apple I has steadily increased in value and notoriety becoming a cult collectable, initially exchanging hands between a small group of enthusiasts for around US$20,000. The most recent example achieved US$375,000 in 2018 with RR Auctions in America. The highest price paid for an Apple I previously was US$905,000 in 2014. The working, early Apple I (complete with keyboard, monitor, cassette decks and manual) was sold at auction by Bonhams to the Henry Ford Museum Michigan. There are only an estimated 60 - 70 working Apple I computers left in existence.

Rarity is key in assessing value

Apple produced 6.1 million of the first iPhone before stopping production in July 2008, so this product is not considered rare. However, a boxed and unused example can still fetch a premium. An unopened original iPhone with a 2007 launch day bag achieved US$4,640 online recently. Another original, unopened 2007 iPhone is selling on eBay for anything between US$3,500 up to hopeful US$20,000.

What to collect now

In the early days of Apple, a lot of interesting ephemera was produced alongside their tech products. The most collectable being the rare and quirky. Key rings, boxed pocket knifes, lapel pins - these are just a few examples of branded lifestyle products that are becoming increasing collectable, often exchanging hands from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

One of my favourite and most fun collectables are examples from Apple's ill fated 1980’s clothing line. Just one year after Steve Jobs resigned as chairman, the company decided to test the loyalty of its customers with the launch of The Apple Collection, a branded line of clothing and lifestyle accessories including the original Apple Watch. The range was not a success so the output was limited. Rarer still are the coveted Apple sneakers, part of a discontinued line of apparel that was produced for Apple employees in the 1990’s. Only a handful of pairs are recorded as surviving. They have been previously offered at auction for US$15,000-$20,000 but as yet there is not an achieved price record as these examples remain unsold.

Please get in touch if you wish to buy or sell any rare or early Apple related ephemera.

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