09/07/2011 17:57 BST | Updated 08/09/2011 10:12 BST

Hard Sell For The 'Collectible' Last-Ever NOTW Started Early On eBay

For all the anger directed at the News of the World of late it might seem surprising that the final edition of the 168-year-old tabloid newspaper has already been billed as a collectors' item.

What's more surprising still is that some six hours before the paper rolled off the presses it was already being sold on the Internet auction site eBay. Or, to be precise, sellers offered the promise to deliver a pristine copy of the paper once released.

Perhaps entrepreneurial types simply took the word of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents literally, when they said Saturday that the paper is set to be a historic publication.

As Anne Bingham, from the NFRN, told BBC News: "Many people will be buying it as a collectors' item. We're expecting sales to be well in excess of the normal 2.6 million."

But given that the paper is expected to sell more than five million copies, just how collectible will it be?

As of 17:00 Saturday several eBay listings were already selling (promises to deliver) the last edition for a healthy profit. One in particular was offering 10 copies of the last issue for £5.50 each, which is £4.50 more than the paper's usual cover price. And as of press time three copies of the paper had actually been sold, perhaps partly thanks to a link to the auction from The Guardian website and others.

Still, not bad going for a newspaper that has not even been released yet.

Other auctions attempting to sell copies of the last-ever NOTW were having more trouble. With the enthusiasm and lack of punctuation for which eBay sellers are sometimes known, another enterprising lister of "perfect condition" NOTWs said on their ad: "After 168 years of headline exclusives and record breaking sales this newspaper will come to an end on Sunday under a blaze of media frenzy". But sadly, the public did not seem to buy the hyperbole. Even though the seller was offering the paper for a penny less than the cover price there were no bids to be seen.

Elsewhere on eBay the evidence for the NOTW having collectible value was mixed at best. A rare "first edition" of the News of the World from 1843 was listed on the site, but at the time of publication it had garnered just £31.87 from four bids.

Perhaps buyers were sceptical that the item was indeed a 168-year-old original, and not a replica copy like this curiously similar item, also on sale at the site and yours for £8.50.

For true connoisseurs one eBay user offered the chance to buy the last ever broadsheet edition of the NOTW from 1984, compete with Sunday magazine. Unfortunately the bidding was again slow, the paper not having met its Buy It Now price of £9.99 plus £2 shipping.

Royal weddings are always popular, and a Royal Wedding souvenir edition of the tabloid (that's Wills and Kate, not Chaz and Di) was listed on sale for £24.99. Alas there were no takers.

Similarly a copy of the paper from 1965 offered for £100 reserve had found little interest.

So for budding NOTW memorabilia kingpins maybe it is worth getting your items on eBay early. But as the phone hacking crisis itself has shown, it might be wise to wait and see. When it comes to the News of the World these days you never quite know what's going to happen next.