Sealed Super Mario Bros. Sells for Record-Breaking Price
People collect video games for various reasons. Some do it for the nostalgia, some simply love collecting, and some collect to eventually sell — ideally for a good price.
One copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES recently sold at Heritage Auctions in Dallas for a tidy sum — although, that isn't anything to be too surprised about in itself.
Heritage Auctions has been selling collectibles for years and recently started selling collectible video games, most of which bring in anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
But this particular copy of Super Mario Bros. sold for $100,150 on February 6.
It's worth noting that this was a joint purchase, including Heritage Auctions founder Jim Halperin; Zac Gieg of Just Press Play Video Games; and Rich Lecce, an up-and-coming game collector and renowned coin collector. However, the sum is still staggering.
Apart from the record-breaking sale, there are a number of factors that made this copy of the game very special. Kenneth Thrower, chief grader and co-founder of collectible video game grading company Wata, said, "Beyond the artistic and historical significance of this game is its supreme state of preservation."
During the days of the NES, Nintendo didn't have a set method of packaging its products. In fact, the company went through several different box styles, sealing methods, and seal of quality prints over the system's lifespan.
The first method is known as the sticker seal. Instead of shrink wrapping boxes, Nintendo used a small black seal with the word "Nintendo" on it to seal boxes shut. This method was only utilized in test batches of the NES distributed in New York in 1985 and Los Angeles in 1986, making it quite rare indeed.
Image via Wata
It's so rare, the copy of Super Mario Bros. that sold is the only known copy with the seal intact and the box in high-quality condition; Wata actually rated it "Near Mint" condition, with a 9.4 Sticker Seal rating.
That's impressive for a non-shrink wrapped game, according to Thrower. He said, "Not only are all of NES sticker sealed games extremely rare but by their nature of not being sealed in shrink wrap, they usually exhibit significant wear after more than 30 years."
There are other details making this copy so special as well. Being one of the Sticker Seal copies, it also has a hangtab — a cardboard hanger stores could use to display the games, only used on the Sticker Seal games.
It also features the round Seal of Quality, not quite as rare as the other two aspects, but still something indicative of Nintendo's early days.
It's rarity and fine quality aren't lost on the buyers, either. Gieg said:
This is the first appearance of Superman of video games. We all knew how hard it is to find an open copy of this version in nice condition, but to find one still sealed is truly something I thought I would never see, even after selling vintage video games for over 20 years.
Lecce, the third buyer, predicts interest in quality collectible video games like this will only continue increasing, what with video games and their characters permeating culture like never before, such as with the upcoming opening of Universal's Nintendo theme park and various game-themed films.