December 4, 2023/ / ARTICLES/ Comments: 8

Collecting skateboards can be a pain in the ass. Boards are heavy, you need a lot of space to store them, and they will happily catch fire if your house ever burns to the ground. But none of that has stopped hardcore collectors who have spent thousands of dollars and countless hours finding and preserving iconic boards and their histories.

We’re not talking about your average skater who has a stack of old scratched-up decks collecting dust in the garage, we’re talking about the big fish – the guys who could put a downpayment on a house if they were to liquidate their collections.

We hit up our friend Zac Tait who runs a collector group on Facebook and he talked to three collectors to learn the ins and outs and how they found themselves deep down the rabbit hole.

If you ever wanted to reclaim a piece of your childhood and cop that elusive Penny deck or 101 board you saw in a CCS catalog, hopefully, this article will be a solid place to start.

John Arbuckle

What got you into collecting skateboards?
I started collecting VHS tapes first since I’ve always been obsessed with skate videos but then my wife got me a 10th anniversary “Yeah Right!” board on eBay, signed by Spike Jonze and the Girl team. After that, I managed to track down an original Muska silhouette board and then I was hooked. I have to partially blame Tim Anderson (@bobshirt) for my addiction too [laughs]. His Instagram page, collection, and interviews really inspired me.

Do you collect anything else? Or just strictly skateboards?
Yep, I’m a skate video nerd. Collecting VHS tapes was my first addiction and it’s still going strong. Hit me up if you have Eastern Exposure 1 or Fairman’s 1! Will make great offers!

Is there a specific theme, era, or company you focus on?
Anything 90s really, although my collection is more focused on mid to late 90s popsicles.

In your opinion, what is the babe ruth or the most sought after skate deck of all time? What would you guess it sells for?
I’m not as familiar with older boards from the 70s and 80s but speaking of the 90s, I’d probably say the 101 Natas “Devil Worship” board by Marc McKee. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a NOS (New Old Stock) go for $10k to $15k.

What’s your most memorable story attached to acquiring a board?
I had been looking for a Gabriel Rodriguez Santana Chocolate board for a while and finally managed to find one that was in Australia. After Gabe passed away, I found out that it used to belong to him and came from his personal collection. I have a picture of him holding it too. That’s one I’ll never sell. Rest in peace.

How do you feel about people flipping boards?
I think it’s pretty lame to buy a board with the intent to resell it right away. I don’t collect for the money, I just love preserving skate history. However, if I do decide to let something go, I’d still like to get a fair price for it, whatever that means at the time. Demand and value seem to fluctuate pretty rapidly. There are a lot of collectors out there these days but it’s still a very niche market.

How do you feel about signatures on a board? Topside or bottom?
Signatures are cool but I prefer people to just sign their name as opposed to personalizing it, just in case I end up selling it someday. Also, topside only so it doesn’t upset the bottom graphic.

Shrink on or off?
Shrink OFF always! Over time, it can stick to the graphic and peel off the paint or finish. Better to use plastic board bags for protection instead.

Any memorable moments in skating outside of collecting?
It’s not a good memory but when I was a kid, the Element team did a demo at my local park and I was (still am) a big Tosh Townend fan. I brought my favorite black Emerica hat with me for him to autograph but he quickly signed the top with a black sharpie so you couldn’t even see the signature. When I asked if he could sign it again on the light part under the bill, he looked at me like I was crazy, shook his head, and skated off. I was devastated, haha.

Are screen printed boards a thing of the past?
They’re not dead yet but definitely rare. Silk screens are way better quality than heat transfers but they’re also more expensive and complex to make so I understand why it’s not worth it for most companies these days. Some people still screen boards though and I think that’s sick.

Favorite golden era company?
That’s tough but I’d have to go with Alien Workshop. Photosynthesis is in my top three videos of all time. That was a very special period in skating.

What companies out now are putting attention into their graphics?
I’m kind of out of the loop with modern graphics but I dig the Quasi stuff.

What’s the one thing you’d tell someone if they’re just getting into collecting?
Don’t be so quick to jump on stuff as it pops up. Patience is key!

How much do you estimate your collection to be worth?
I literally have no clue. Prices are all over the place these days. It just depends on the demand at the time. I often wonder if these old boards will hold their value in the future or if the next generations of kids won’t care.

What’s the most valuable board you have and how did you get it?
Probably the James Kelch “Flyer”. I think most 90s collectors would agree that that board is one of the most sought after grails. Mine is technically not NOS (new old stock) though because it was set up at one point. I got it from a lady who bought it at a skate shop in Cali back in the day and barely skated it because she didn’t want to mess up the “beautiful artwork”, haha. That’s how it survived all these years.

What do you think of boards today or from the last ten years? Do you collect anything modern? What does the scene look like right now?
Personally, I don’t care for most of them. Right now, I have an 8-inch board but I grew up skating 7.75s and I still prefer smaller shapes, so a lot of these new boards are way too big and square for me. I don’t collect modern boards but I do have a few new reissues. These days, the collecting scene is in full swing and people are really into it. Facebook and Instagram are great ways to connect with other collectors and see what they have. I’d much rather sell or trade to someone directly than go through eBay. You get to meet new people and network that way.

Bill Simpson

What got you into collecting skateboards?
The first board I decided to save was a Heath Kirchart Mindfield deck around 2010. I knew that he was retiring and I was always a big fan. From there I was inspired by Tim Anderson and Simon Hooper’s collections that they were posting on Instagram. I collected baseball cards as a kid and always had a habit of saving things so I got hooked pretty quickly.

Is there a specific theme, era, or company you focus on?
I started skating in 2000 and like a lot of people that collect boards, I am drawn to the decks from those first few years I started. My younger brother got into skating at the same time and we were both big fans of Alien Workshop and Habitat immediately. We loved everything they did. The graphics, ads, team, videos and overall art direction influenced us a lot. Sovereign Sect having such an east coast representation was a big part of it too since we lived outside of Philadelphia. I’ve always loved Evan Hecox’s graphics with Chocolate as well.

What’s your most memorable story attached to acquiring a board?
I was able to buy a few Anthony Pappalardo boards from Anthony himself. That was a cool experience just getting to talk with him about the boards and his old video parts. Growing up, we watched Photosynthesis and Mosaic a million times and loved his parts. Having a few boards from his own personal collection is special.

What’s your holy grail board?
The main board I am searching for at the moment is Heath Kirchart’s deck from the Alien Workshop Enlightened series. It was one of my favorite boards I skated as a kid. I’m hoping to complete the series some day. I am missing his deck and Dill’s currently.

What would you tell someone looking to start collecting skateboards?
When I first started collecting I was buying a ton of random boards. Whatever sparked my interest at all. After a year or two I decided to slim down and just focus on boards that actually had some kind of personal meaning. It’s easy to go overboard or be influenced by what others are collecting. I would say just stick with what means the most to you.

Do you think skaters care more or less about the art at the bottom
of their deck than in the past?

It’s tough to say. It varies so much person to person. I have friends that will just look at the shape of the board and not think twice about the graphic. But I’m sure there are plenty of younger skaters with their favorite board on their bedroom wall right now.

I will say it seems harder to make an iconic graphic with how fast things move and how many board brands exist. There’s new photos and videos every day as opposed to 20 years ago when we’d watch the same VHS over and over, memorizing specific board graphics people were skating. I don’t see newer graphics today having the same impact or becoming synonymous with a specific skater like the Muska Silhouette or Tom Penny’s Cheech and Chong.

In your opinion, what is the Babe Ruth or the most sought after
skate deck of all time? What would you guess it sells for?

There’s so many different eras and brands that people prefer. For the era that I’m interested in I would say the Alien Workshop Photosynthesis series. I haven’t seen too many of them out there and they always sell for a ton. Just recently the Josh Kalis deck from the series sold for over $1,500 on eBay. You can imagine what the full series sells for!

Are screen printed boards a thing of the past?
It seems so unfortunately. There really is such a difference when you see the boards in person. I love that you can see and sometimes feel the layers. Even the little imperfections on screen printed boards, like layers not perfectly aligned, are so cool to me. It makes each board feel unique.

What companies out now are putting attention into their graphics?
Quasi graphics have been my favorite for a while now. I love the mixed media approach. They experiment and are unpredictable while still having a cohesive look with each season of decks.

What’s the one thing you’d tell yourself just getting into collecting?
I would say be patient and consistent. It took years to find a lot of the boards that meant the most to me. A lot of that was building friendships in the community of collectors out there and helping each other find the boards we were looking for. I’ve also checked eBay every day for the past 10 years, which sounds insane but it works!

How much do you estimate your collection to be worth?
I’m not totally sure how much it’s worth but I know how much I paid for everything and that’s roughly $13,000 for the 60 boards I currently have. Granted this is over a 10 year span of collecting and I’ve always tried to sell other items to cover the cost of each board. Thankfully I bought a lot of the boards before the going rates went up. I keep track of how much I paid for each deck on a Google doc to make sure I don’t go overboard, even though $13,000 already sounds insane haha.

What’s the most valuable board you have? Tell us how you got it.
The Josh Kalis “Pegasus” deck is probably the most well known board I own and I’ve seen it sell for over $800 on eBay once. This was also around the time LOVE park was demolished so I’m sure that played a big factor. I remember telling my younger brothers about it at the time and they thought I was crazy for not selling mine but I’m too attached to it.

Around 2014 I started checking eBay regularly and stumbled on a listing from a guy in Ohio who was selling 5 Alien and Habitat decks. The Kalis “Pegasus” board happened to be one of them. I think I paid $500 for the lot which was crazy for me at that point.

Mitch Hartman

What got you into collecting skateboards?
I bought my first board to not be skated in 1995 when I Met Ricky Oyola for the first time at Sub Zero. He signed his Zoo board for me in pen. I still have it almost 30 years later

Is there a specific theme, era, or company you focus on?
It has varied over the years, The bulk of my collection now is my friends who have gone pro, brands I have been involved with, among other things. and It’s pretty left field but I loved Listen Skateboards, so I buy any of those I can ever find.

Do you think skaters care more or less about the art at the bottom of their deck than in the past?
I definitely think kids don’t care about art as much, but they care about brand identity. In the past a brand would run a graphic and it would be available for like 6 months, now you’re lucky if a graphic is out for more than 2 months before they’re bored with it and want to see something new. As someone on the sales side of things as well, it’s a lot harder to get a shop to order the same graphics more than 2-3 times, so you’re forced to pump out graphics more often, which is frustrating when you put so much effort into making graphics that you love.

What’s your most memorable story attached to acquiring a board?
Right around when Cole went pro, I was holding on to his board waiting for the right time to ask him to sign it since we were friends and I still kind of felt awkward asking people. There was a party at my house one night and the whole Hot Wax crew came through. The next day I woke up and saw the board was signed and inscribed with “Don’t ever sweat asking me for a favor you’re the homie” it made me laugh so hard.

What’s your holy grail board?
My holy grail is a weird one, I feel like all my stuff is so random that no one will ever have it. There was a 151 JR Neves board where it’s kind of a drawing of him in front of a brick wall. I think it was his only 151.

How do you feel about signatures on a board? Topside or bottom?
I know it’s not a popular take, but I like the signature on the graphic. You just find a place to make it work, I display so many boards so the top side being signed doesn’t really do anything for me. I also would never buy a signed board. I only care about something being signed if it’s to remember a time I met someone personally or a relationship I had with that person.

Shrink on or off?
Always off. I was just giving my friend shit the other day because he had a board displayed on the wall still in shrink with the size sticker still on it. Jesus christ it looks so stupid, and that plastic shrink damages the heat transfer graphics long term. Storage bags are like fifty cents…there’s no reason not to use them

To a newbie, how do you figure out the price of a deck or what a deck is worth? What is your process?
My go to first is always Ebay sold listings, anyone can ask crazy prices, but you can see what things have actually sold for. Then it’s the facebook groups, as much as facebook is kind of a dead platform there aren’t a lot of other places that have a way to connect people from all over via common interest groups. It’s really the only reason I still have an account.

Any pros ever contact you about their boards in your collection?
Not a pro but going back to JR Neves I actually tracked down one of his Unbelievers boards that his mom didn’t have. I asked Jimmy Gorecki to reach out to her and we got connected. I tried to give it to her and then at the last minute she just said she was happy to know one was still out there somewhere and we had a great talk about how missed he is by everyone. So obviously it will stay with me forever.

Are screen printed boards a thing of the past?
It’s just not cost effective for a board company making large numbers, but small runs for the collector market sure why not. The Carpet guys kill it in that respect.

Favorite golden era company?
Bootleg 100% Pete, Elissa, Scott, Trainwreck, Tony Montgomery so many incredible skaters.

Favorite skate artist?
Mike Stein, he’s a great dude, responsible for like 15 years of amazing Traffic graphics,

What’s the one thing you’d tell yourself just getting into collecting?
If you care about something, don’t sell it to buy anything popular. I can’t believe the amount of awesome boards I sold off to buy some dumbass “rare” FA board that they would just reprint a few years later even though they said they would never make it again, or something like that.

How much do you estimate your collection to be worth?
Most of my collection is more personal than resale value so I’m not too sure on valuing it.

What do you think of boards today or from the last ~10 years? Do you collect anything modern? What’s the scene look like now?
Graphics are pumped out so fast now the only thing I can imagine retaining any kind of value is maybe somebody’s first board, like a rookie card since it seems like that aspect of skating is going in that direction.

When you die, where do you hope your collection ends up? With your kids or perhaps with a museum?
This question hits home for me more than maybe some others. In 2015 we lost our friend Corey Brashears. Corey was the epitome of a skatehoarder, and an amazing person. Angel Acevedo and I spent months helping his wife go through hundreds of pairs of shoes, decks, clothes and thousands of stickers. We helped her get a lot of his stuff to people that would appreciate it while also making money back to help take care of his family.

What was left we gave to kids at local parks, just like Corey would have done. After all of that I really looked at my collection and started to scale it back. I cut my collection down to things that really mean something to me, or have at least some significance. I would hope my friends would help get my collection into the hands of people that would appreciate it.

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  1. Budacris

    December 5, 2023 2:33 am

    Thanks Jenkem for another great read on that topic!

  2. HR

    December 6, 2023 12:33 am

    I fuck with Listen Skateboards too 😏

  3. Oscar Mikklesen

    December 6, 2023 6:39 pm

    Those first two guys have, um, interesting taste in collecting, I mean putting a Willy Santos board on your wall is LOL. That dude is a kook from start to finish. The third dude kind of knows more of what’s up, Unbelievers boards were rad, and Traffic stuff is cool, but those collections were meh. Whatever, have fun, I guess.

    • Willy Santos’ Dad

      December 10, 2023 9:28 am

      I love it when nobodies try to call a somebody like Willy Santos a kook. Let’s see your video part from “the end” and we can see who the kook is. “Whatever have fun I guess” said the the 15 year old pumpkin muffin.

      • MarkeMark Simpson

        December 12, 2023 6:19 pm

        Willy is one of the best Street Skaters of his Generation. Possibly all time top 20! Super nice guy to boot! True pro and worthy of respect!

    • cayce wyngrove

      December 17, 2023 9:28 pm

      @MarkeMark Simpson… Word.

  4. Zombie Stu

    December 14, 2023 11:30 am

    Screenprinting boards is not dead; LOVENSKATE lives!

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