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An unopened 1984 VHS copy of the original Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope—back when it was just called Star WArs—was expected to sell for a whopping $60,000 at an online auction. This copy sold for 40K this week, making it the most valuable tape ever.

The galaxy far, far away first appeared in 1977 and thrives today on Disney+ with animated and live-action shows including The Bad BatchThe MandalorianThe Book of Boba FettNow, one lucky bidder went back in time to where it all began.

Auction house Goldin was hosting the online sale featuring a handful of vintage VHS tapes, one of which is the 1984 first release of Star Wars pictured above. The copy includes a “Gray Tape-Head,” a “First Edition Stereo Only” red label, a “1984 Sleeve” and “First Edition CBS/Fox Watermarks.” There are also two other 1984 Star Wars VHS copies for sale and a sealed copy of the Star Wars 10-Year Anniversary Original Trilogy Set in Trilogy Case.

Star Wars was first released in theaters in 1977, yet wasn’t until 1982 that the film became available on VHS for rental only. In 1984, it became available for purchase. The edition for sale was previously sold at an auction for $57,600. This may seem like an crazy amount of money for a VHS, especially considering home viewers are already outgrowing DVDs. However, increasingly rare items related to major franchises remain extremely valuable among collectors. For example, a first edition copy of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sold for $37,000 at an auction last year. Another factor is that the original Star Wars trilogy has been edited and re-released countless times, making this original cut a valuable collector’s item.

Suffice to say that in the tape up for auction, Han shoots first.

By way of background: In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was a format war in the home video industry. Two of the standards, VHS and Betamax, received the most media exposure. VHS eventually won the war, gaining 60% of the North American market by 1980. Tapes continued to by made until 2008, even after DVDs became the leading format in 2005. As the first home video format, VHS has historic and collectable importance. No more are likely to be made.

More high priced VHS

Here are a few of the most valuable tapes by auction. These are all recent prices from eBay auctions. Top Gun is valuable because it’s new and unopened. And also because it was the first low cost video and began a massive increase in VHS sales in the late 80s.

How about DVDs? The War and Remembrance 2008 DVD set is difficult to find and can sell for $299 or more on the secondary market. That will probably increase by an order of magnitude when DVDs are phased out. On the other hand, a Star Wars Return Of The Jedi DVD is currently asking $17,500 on eBay.

For comparison, earlier in 2021, Pokemon Oreos were selling for $15,100 each online. That’s right, Chocolate Sandwich Cookies at $15K per box.

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My god, we’re in the wrong business. — ed.

David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.

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