David Bowie & My Comic Book Collection – Why Scarcity and Authenticity Matter

I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Detour #1, the anticipated addition to my comic book collection of works by Ed Brubaker. Alas, the USPS is still slowed because of the Corona Virus, and the book isn’t here.

So while we wait, a few thoughts on scarcity and authenticity. One of the team here at GD Herring is obsessed with fascinated by blockchain technology, crypto currencies and particularly non-fungible tokens. He sent along this excellent article from Scott Galloway at No Mercy/No Malice about the subject that does a great job explaining something also integral to the heart of collecting – trust and scarcity.

From the article:

Our superpower as a species is cooperation, which requires trust. It’s the reason banks, traffic lights, and anesthesiologists exist. Even before crypto, creative minds have been drawn to finance, as trust creates opportunities for leverage and securitization. 

Galloway tells the story of David Bowie issuing “Bowie Bonds.” In a pre-blockchain era, the cost to fundraise this way was extremely high, requiring lawyers, accountants and all sorts of expensive folks to pull off imbuing his bonds with the credibility (trust) necessary to get people to buy them. What if, Galloway posits, Bowie had access to the blockchain and could have verified his bonds without all those gatekeepers…?

The second point of the article:

People like scarcity — a lot. Owning something scarce makes one feel unique, and signals success and worthiness as a potential mate. Scarcity is also an instinctual trigger for obsession — when we sense a scarcity of something, be it food or a mate, we are programmed to become obsessed with finding it. Art auctions, the (pre-pandemic) lines outside Supreme, and the margins on a Panerai Tourbillon prove this point.

This technology allows for something that would otherwise be infinitely reproducible to hold the characteristic of scarcity. Not only would Bowie have been able to verify the legitimacy of his bonds, he would have been able to guarantee the number of them, as with a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. With this technology, his bonds, though just paper – or currently, electronic ledger recordings – could be non-fungible, or distinct. Each the same, yet each unique.

So how does all this relate to my Ed Brubaker comic book collection? I am living proof that scarcity “works” as the instinctual trigger Galloway is talking about. Like I said in my last article, finding Brubaker’s zine instantly had me thinking I had something special because it’s possible that there aren’t many out there in the world. And reading this article got me thinking; what if I do have the beginnings of a serious collection and can tokenize it? What would that look like? Something to think about while waiting the arrival of Detour #1

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