02/16/2021 at 12:00 am #85949
Forget about stocks, real estate and bitcoin.. sports cards are currently a hot commodity.
The modern cards have been exploding in value. It appears the key to getting top price is having them graded by a service and having the top grade available for the card. I recently watched a few videos in which the top 20 sales per week are shown with the actual sales price in the case of best offers.
Below is a link to the top selling (sold) items on Ebay with the search term PSA. This is the name of one of the more popular grading companies.
By the way, many of the companies that grade cards have a waiting list of 6 months to a year due to high demand.
How long will this insane demand last..? Who knows?
02/16/2021 at 1:54 pm #85954MyCottageParticipant
Yeah, ebay seems to be doing quite well with trading cards…and not just sports….Pokemon and stuff, too. Wish I knew more about cards, but I never really got into them. But for those who know what they are doing, there’s money to be made right now….will it be the new Beanie Baby bubble. or will it last? Hard to say….
02/16/2021 at 2:32 pm #85956
I agree on the bubble and on the variety of cards selling for crazy prices, as in $50,000 plus.
Seller PWCC, who has most of the high end sales including the $555,000 Tom Brady card, has a lot more high end cards in the pipeline for this week, including a number of 1986 Fleer Jordan and 1980 Majic/Bird Rookie cards.
It’s fun to watch, but may a little hot to handle at this point.
02/16/2021 at 7:06 pm #85964buytikiselltikiParticipant
So, practical question – I have about 30 random cards, most left over from the 60s, all sports including hockey.
Every time I research them the price range for any card is all over the board, they look the same to me, but the range is from $1 to $500 for the same card.
so , what’s the advantage of sending to a grading service ? If they come back at $5 I’d be unhappy to have waited 6 months and paid $40 for a grading. I don’t see any huge stars but I’m not a sports guy.
I think I’ll put up detailed descriptions and 12 photos each , as is, at the median price.
imagine the nutso condition sports guys will set me straight, I just want to get rid of them!
02/17/2021 at 5:13 pm #85993
Thanks for the heads up.
Back around 2000, I used to go to auctions and I bought some cards. I had them stashed away until I saw this post. Some of my cards could be worth as much as $5,0000, depending on how they are graded. My best card being a 1958 rookie Jim Brown card that I bought at an auction.
I also went to an auction years back. It was a collectibles store that was going out of business. I picked up a set of 1980 Topps Basketball cards I think for free or less than $5. The guy had taken out the best card that has sold on ebay this month for $65,000, see the link below.
Some of the other cards are real good like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson Rookie cards. But, the real question is what grade will they get? I don’t know. After about a PSA 5 or 6, they all look the same to me. I think I will find a knowledgeable local card collector that can give me a ballpark on grading. You need to know this before you send the cards in because their price scale depends on how much they appraise for. I think this is crazy because that is what I am paying them to find out!
02/27/2021 at 4:01 pm #86262
These sure are interesting times. The Bird/Magic rookie (PSA 9) highest sold on Ebay is now $90,000. Of course there is a range and a fairly recent (PSA 9) sold for $30,000 so who knows.
I’m curious to knw what you end up doing with your cards Mark.
It seems to me that charging an evaluation fee, based on value seems to be a conflict of interest. It’s a bit like a home appraiser charging you a fee based on the value he comes up with. What incentive does he have to not put in a higher value. Right now PSA grading seems to be the standard, but they are also setting the market to an extent.
I have some older cards I bought in the 1990’s that I’m considering getting graded. They range from the 1960’s to 1980’s and are mostly Baseball with a few Basketball/Hockey and Football. I’m thinking of sending some of them to Becket (BVG/BGS) to get graded. Their pricing system seems a bit more reasonable.
02/28/2021 at 1:32 pm #86281
Thank you for this post, it is indeed timely. I too have been watching the market explode. I am presently sorting through approx 7K+ mostly 1989-92 Basketball and Baseball cards that I picked up over the summer for free from someone who was emptying his parent’s home. They were his childhood cards and he just couldn’t deal. I thought I was crazy at the time, but as I delved into them, they all look to be in seemingly pristine condition. About 1/4 are complete sets and are organized, and the rest I am having to sort. There are several multiple sets of the same kind. I’ve pulled out a dozen Jordans so far and am putting in penny sleeves and card savers. I am thinking of having a card shop look at them first before sending them out to grade as I find this whole process daunting. I’m no expert here. I collected as a child (70’s era) and still own and covet some well-worn cards I saved. I have been educating myself about card collecting and found this channel, and particularly this playlist helpful.
02/28/2021 at 4:12 pm #86288
This is my world. I’ve flipped cards off and on for the last ten years, and full-time for the last two. I’m not a collector at all (hence why I’ve been on this forum) but I had grown up around cards, so I already had a base of knowledge about what cards might be valuable when I started scavenging. Cards are like anything else, if you do the research, you can figure out what’s valuable and what’s not.
The methodology behind my eBay business is pretty simple, and maybe not what you’d expect. I never open packs. I buy almost everything as single cards at auction and resell the same cards using buy it now/best offer. There are literally millions of sports card auctions ending at any given time because there are always new sets coming out (literally hundreds of sets every year) and as we are all aware, not everyone who sells on eBay uses the platform to its fullest potential. Also, another scavenger principle: auctions are incredibly fickle. I never feel an impulse to keep any of the cards myself, but I can certainly understand why others do. Now more than ever, cards are unique — part curiosity, but part investment.
A lot of the boom in cards right now is about scarcity. Cards from the period of the 80s and 90s are from an era of extreme overproduction, commonly called the ‘junk wax’ era. While there are still plenty of cards that hold value from that era, the iconic Michael Jordan 86-87 Fleer rookie being the most notable example, by and large there are just so many millions of cards made in that period that supply always exceeds demand.
The way card companies adapted in the late 90s going forward was by manufacturing scarcity. Instead of card collecting being about completing the set, as it had been throughout most of the 20th century, manufacturers started making ‘chase’ cards — so 1 in every 10 packs you might get a shiny ‘refractor’ card, a different pattern or foil finish with a limited edition serial number, or an autograph, a card with a jersey piece, or a special ‘insert’ with a fun design. 20 years of that have led to a card industry that’s almost entirely centered around those kinds of cards, often in combination. For example: cards often have an autograph, a jersey piece, a serial number, and a crazy/shiny design, and predictably enough a pack is much more likely to get a backup or average player than a superstar. It helps that collectors who grew up with cards in the 90s are now adults with disposable income, and eBay has also connected collectors around the world for 25+ years now. So while there is a lot of hype around cards right now, there has always been a market for collectors and my expectation is that market will continue to some degree until something disrupts it.
It is a weird time though. There are so many ‘investors’ putting at least some money in cards that there are often huge swings in prices (usually around a particular player) in a very short amount of time. Again, I’m pretty insulated from all this, since I’m a relatively small fish. I have a solid inventory of about 2,500 items. I sell about 50 items each week. My average sales price is about $50.
But I often bid on auctions from huge sellers, the type profiled in ‘sports cards booming’ type of article, and I wonder sometimes how stressful it must be to sell millions of dollars of cards in a year. Definitely not my dream! But for now, this is a life.
If anyone has questions about cards they’re trying to sell, or what their relative value might be, I’d be happy to try and help out.
02/28/2021 at 5:06 pm #86295
This is really fascinating. Thanks for the inside scoop on how the card world works. Like the craziness around penny stocks right now, there seems to be a lot of “gambling” going on.
02/28/2021 at 6:48 pm #86299
It’s a really interesting parallel to the fervor around Gamestop and other stocks. In some ways, the speculation around cards is very similar and I would guess that a lot of people who make money from those non-traditional investments (crypto, penny stocks, etc) are also buying and selling expensive cards and unopened boxes of cards.
Interestingly, if you invested in the top high end cards (Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, LeBron James etc) 3 or 5 or 10 years ago, you’d have made more money — probably significantly more — than any traditional investment. Of course, pick the wrong players and your collection is worth a fraction of even what you paid for it.
But that’s the interesting thing about cards. There is an almost inherent sentimentality to them since they are a tangible, and often completely unique, object you can hold and admire. I don’t feel an attachment to any of the cards that I sell, but I have no trouble understanding why buyers purchase individual cards for more than I paid for them. Many of the modern ‘chase’ cards have neat and unusual designs, plus there is the speculative aspect and fandom aspect on top of that.
So I won’t be surprised if many of the new ‘gamblers’ who have moved to cards continue to buy and sell cards in the future. I expect prices for all cards, from vintage to modern, will decrease across the board once people can more freely do other things with their times, like go to packed stadiums to watch their favorite team in a game. But we are still likely some time away from that, and in the meantime it’s nice to be able to scavenge without having to risk my health or anyone else’s.
03/02/2021 at 8:35 pm #86360
The scarcity issue is also enhanced with graded cards A PSA 10 is generally worth more than a 9 and, depending on the number available, can be worth exponentially more. The grading services keep track of the numbers they’ve graded in each condition and make these statistics public.
Also, when a card is graded, it’s also authenticated. This all makes the hobby more accessible to newer collectors and gives buyers a higher level of confidence when making a purchase.
PSA grading recently announced an increase is prices and will be doubling many of the prices.
Life sure is interesting.
03/03/2021 at 11:16 pm #86416
Well, I have a new twist to this. Someone I know has a hoard of cards from the 80’s -90’s and has a number of cards worth over $1,000 – $35,000, possibly more depending on how they are graded and how the market shifts.
They are asking me to list them on ebay. This makes me a bit nervous because I think I have only sold 1 item over $1,000. The main thing that makes me nervous is that with prices like that, I think the scammers will flock to it. It is the stuff outside of ebay’s control that is most perplexing. Like credit cards chargebacks and similar with Paypal. I had a long discussion with ebay today about it. My question was how long do I need to wait to give the consigner their money? Well, it turns out the following: ebay takes 4 types of payments with managed payments: 1. credit cards, 2. Paypal, 3. Apple pay and Google pay, 4. Debit cards. So, here is how it breaks down:
1. All credit cards – they have 90 days to file a chargeback.
2. Paypal – they have 180 days to file a dispute
3. Apple pay and Google pay – these are backed by a credit card, so it is the same as a credit card, 90 days.
4. Debit cards – 60 or 90 days depending on the specific company.
There is no way to know how the buyer paid by looking at the sale. But I asked ebay if I called, would they be able (real question is willing) to tell me how the buyer paid. They said that they would tell me. So, I will hold everything for 90 days except if the buyer paid with paypal. In that case, I will have to hold the funds for 180 days.
What I am trying to avoid here is this scenario: buyer buys card for $10.,000. I pay the cosigner after 45 days. On day 80, I get a chargeback from a credit card company. The credit card company wins. I have to give back the $10.,000 (which I will presume that the consigner already spent) and the “buyer” gets to keep the card. Now I owe ebay $10.,000 with no funds to pay it. Now grant it, that is the worse case scenario, but I have to plan for that so that I don’t get burned.
Obviously, I am going to have the package tracked, require Signature confirmation, and have it fully Insured. I am just wondering if there is something else I am missing.
If anyone has experience related to this, like maybe craig rex, I would like to hear how you handle this.
03/04/2021 at 7:22 pm #86445
You didn’t ask, but the insurance can be tricky, too. I recently took on a consignment for an item listed in the $5,000 range and went down that rabbit hole. USPS caps at $5,000 and independent insurance providers like Shipsaver and the other carriers have some fine print and deductibles. So if you have not already figured that out, don’t wait till the last minute.
In my agreement with the consignor I disclaimed any liability for loss once it is in the carrier’s hands and warned him that he could lose the item and his money in a worst case scenario. I explained that if he wanted more safety he should take the item to a local auction house.
I didn’t even think about the chargeback issue. Sheesh. I hope someone who sells high dollar items chimes in here.
03/04/2021 at 9:57 pm #86449
I didn’t think the insurance would be an issue. I looked up registered mail, and it said it could insure up to $50,000. However, I don’t think we can get registered mail with ebay. That will be another question for ebay.
03/05/2021 at 8:45 am #86457Incompetent PickerParticipant
An extreme option is to hand deliver with a cash transaction. At that price point it will likely be worth it. I’ve done this in the past, both driving and flying.
Proceed with caution in this category, it is full of … well, interesting characters and the market is very volatile. You run the very real risk of a reseller / speculator trying to flip and if the market tanks they do a chargeback. Personally I would only sell graded, slabbed and registered cards.
@Temudgin – MarkS gives a good advice, USPS Registered Mail is quite secure and offers much higher insurance options. I would also add Adult Signature Restricted Delivery to the package. Something else I would recommend is to call your buyer and vet them a bit before shipping, their phone number is on the Order Details page.
03/05/2021 at 1:52 pm #86464
Thank you both! I’ve used registered mail before for sensitive documents but didn’t realize insurance could be purchased for it or for that much value.
@incompetent-picker – great advice. You don’t sound very incompetent to me.
03/06/2021 at 2:33 pm #86473
Mark S, I would be interested to know more about what’s in your friend’s hoard of cards from the 80s and 90s if you would feel comfortable sharing some of the details. There are a number of cards from that era, particularly key rookies (think Michael Jordan, etc) or rare error cards, which regularly command prices four or five figure sales prices, especially in high grades. But there is often a conflation between perceived value of ‘sports cards’ in general and what most cards actually sell for, particularly among stuff from the 80s-90s junk wax era. People hear ‘sports cards’ and often think (particularly in the last year or two) that any cards are worth money when that’s far from the truth. I would hate to see you waste your time trying to sell cards which aren’t particularly valuable.
With that said, with items of that size there are a number of options besides you sell it and take on all the risk. There are a number of reputable consigners — the two most well known are PWCC and Probstein — where you can send them the cards and they will handle the listing and shipping of your cards for a fee. For the most part, it’s slightly more than you will pay listing them yourself, but it’s only a percentage or two more because they deal in such volume. There is also an almost built-in customer base with their listings because they have so many auctions running every week, I am talking thousands of auctions a week. Ironically, it’s that volume which is why I can’t recommend PWCC or Probstein — both have been named as defendants in a class action suit for knowingly selling altered cards. See this link for just the tip of the iceberg:
There are some ‘smaller’ consigners who I regularly buy from and would have no problem consigning with if I ever choose to sell that way — pc_sportscards, dcsports87 and hoodyscollectibles are their usernames. I believe that all three have websites outside ebay as well. There are many, many other honest sellers as well, but these are a few whom I’ve dealt with regularly and who have a great reputation through collector message boards like Blowout Forums.
If you truly have a hoard of very valuable cards, I would actually suggest that eBay might not be your best bet, and a reputable auction house like Robert Edward or Goldin will get more eyes on your items. Collectors who are serious about collecting very expensive cards are more likely to buy their cards through a source like that.
Let me add this as far as selling cards on eBay using your own id. I have over 7000 feedback on my selling id and have never had a problem with someone trying to scam me that didn’t involve some kind of mistake on my end (usually an obvious mistake with the condition). Are there scammers in the card world? Sure. But that’s a risk you run with selling on eBay, period. I have sold graded cards and ungraded cards, everything from <$10 to cards over $500 and even a few in the thousands. I have sold one card to one buyer and dozens of cards to one buyer. I used to do auctions although I almost exclusively do buy it now/best offer listings now. If you have a good title, take good pictures, and note any condition issues with the cards in your description, you will be fine.
As far as shipping goes, I generally use 6×6 or 7×11 envelopes. Every card goes in a thin soft sleeve, an appropriate sized hard sleeve (also called a toploader) and a team bag which is a resealable thin plastic bag. Always wrap a card with cardboard on both sides (a ‘cardboard sandwich’ basically) and anything above $50 or so, I also wrap in bubble wrap. For very expensive cards, I send them in a box and will add signature confirmation and/or insurance. Some sellers (especially less experienced ones who I buy from all the time) skimp on some of these supplies, and often the card arrives safe anyway, but I prefer to take no chances with packaging.
eBay has made some recent policy changes to reduce buyer’s remorse returns, since card prices can be so volatile, but again those types of returns are not something I’ve ever really dealt with across thousands of transactions. I sell about 50 items a week and my last return was something like three months ago, and it was a very low value card (less than $20).
Hope this helps!
03/06/2021 at 11:26 pm #86477
Yes, this hoard is for real. There are over 200 Jordan’s alone. The Jordan’s alone are worth over $100,000 if they are graded at a PSA 10. Most of the cards should grade near a 10 My friend bought them as a kid and his dad didn’t let him play with them. They went right into card protectors and have sat there for the past 30 some years untouched. He has many, many rookie cards, O’Neal’s (including the expensive rookie cards), Bird, Johnson, etc. He has multiples on nearly all of these. The collection is mind boggling. That is what his dad and he did for fun every Friday. They went to the card store and bought tons of great cards. When they found a good one, they went back and bought more of them. His dad was a friend of the card shop owner and the owner would sometimes just give him a lot of cards.
I have not heard of Robert Edward auction house before. That sounds like a good idea. We will look into that. pc_sportscards, dcsports87 and hoodyscollectibles are their usernames on ebay? I like the idea of the auction house. We are close enough to drive to New Jersey and discuss the cards with them in person.
Thanks for the advice.
We are going to a PSA person this weekend and he should be able to confirm the grade of the cards and point us in the right direction.
03/07/2021 at 2:03 pm #86493
What you’re describing, even without details like sets/years of specific cards, sounds to me like less valuable cards from the overproduced ‘junk wax’ years. Let me explain why I think so and what this means.
He has many, many rookie cards, O’Neal’s (including the expensive rookie cards), Bird, Johnson, etc.
“O’Neals” gives me a clue about when these cards are from because it’s a reference to Shaquille O’Neal, who was a rookie in 1992. The problem is that this was the pinnacle of the junk wax era, when cards were touted as ‘investments’, printed by the millions, and sold everywhere, even on Shop at Home TV.
There are two big problems with junk wax era cards. The first is the sheer quantity of them. Supply is much larger than demand. If you look up ‘Shaquille O’Neal rookie’ or ‘Shaquille O’Neal 1992’ on eBay, you will find tens of thousands of listings. There are a few specific rookie cards of his worth big money, for example the Stadium Club Beam Team “Members Only” parallel which you could only receive by mailing in a specific redemption card. But Shaq’s more common base rookie cards from sets like Fleer, Classic, Upper Deck and Topps — the ones you could get in regular packs and easily get multiples of — sell for less than $10 each and often as little as a dollar. See this listing as one of many, many examples — 6 Shaq rookies from one of the better sets, Fleer Ultra all in sleeves for $27 with free shipping.
The second issue with cards from the late 80s/mid 90s is that printing quality was much less consistent than it is today. So those cards often have slight edge, corner or surface issues even if they were immediately put into a hard sleeve and kept that way for thirty years. It sounds like these cards were cared for better than most, but that doesn’t mean they’re in perfect condition. The difference between a PSA 10 and a PSA 7 is small in terms of what you can see unless you really study the card closely, but the difference in value is quite large.
There are over 200 Jordan’s alone. The Jordan’s alone are worth over $100,000 if they are graded at a PSA 10. Most of the cards should grade near a 10.
There are a lot of Michael Jordan cards worth hundreds and thousands of dollars, but most of those are from the mid 1980s or mid 1990s to present. His earliest cards are very low supply and high demand, and desirable cards from the mid 1990s to present have specific design elements or attributes that make the cards valuable to collectors. While grading cards of this era (or any era) can often increase their value, merely grading a card doesn’t make it valuable. It’s the card itself. So the 200 Jordans aren’t “worth” $100,000 if they all receive a PSA 10 and “worth” nothing if they all receive a PSA 9. They have a value already, ungraded, and getting them graded can potentially increase that value, but their true value depends on the desirability of the cards themselves, not their grade. Here is a listing of 3 Michael Jordan 1991 Upper Deck cards which sold for $0.99 + shipping.
Let me put this another way. If you post pictures of key cards, or specific details like years and sets of particular cards, I can tell you whether you’re sitting on a pile of money or a pile of fool’s gold. With cards, it’s almost always the latter, especially cards from the 1987-1994 era. Even the best players, even in good condition. There were just too many made.
Ironically, the only reason prices cards are going up now is because companies have started to manufacture scarcity in the form of limited edition cards. That is how cards survived after the junk wax era and how we got to where we are today. But it doesn’t mean that all cards are worth a lot of money. Quite the opposite, in fact.
03/07/2021 at 8:42 pm #86509
What I meant about the Jordan’s, was that he looked up the specific cards and if those specific cards graded at a 10, they would be worth over $100,000. We went to see the PSA guy today. The issue is that even with how they were treated, the PSA guy thought only about 1\3 of the Jordan’s would most likely be graded a 10. So, I am not sure where my friend is at now with them, because he will have to look up that 1\3 and see what those cards are worth. The other 2/3 are still worth something, but not worth it to get them graded. But these cards can still be sold and can turn some good money also.
The other issue, as you have also said, is the quantity of cards that were made during that time period. Because of this, a lot of those cards have to grade a 10 to be worth your time\money to grade them.
The PSA guy said that my Jim Brown rookie card should grade a 6 or 7. That is great news for me. I am going to consider using Robert Edward as you suggested for this higher end card.
03/07/2021 at 3:06 pm #86499
I am appreciating this discussion and learning a lot. Craig-rex- I know you are replying to Mark, but I thought I’d post photos of the Jordans I have in the stash I’m working through that I mentioned above. I have multiples of these except for the middle one in the bottom row. I have a few other Jordans as well and still more to go through. Sorry for the washed-out photo. Crisper in person. I do definitely see some edge wear in the upper right one, but most look at least to my untrained eye like they might grade well. I’d be interested in hearing your perspective. https://imgur.com/3b7nNxQ
03/07/2021 at 4:21 pm #86503
Here is the top row of the cards that you have from left to right.
Michael Jordan vs. Magic Johnson 1991-92 Skybox #333
Michael Jordan 1991-92 Skybox #307
Michael Jordan 1991-92 Skybox #39
Michael Jordan 1990-91 Hoops #65
Michael Jordan 1990-91 Hoops All-Star #5
The bottom row are similar years and sets.
All of this info is easy to find even if you don’t know cards at all:
You can find the year by looking for the copyright on the back, usually at the bottom of the card. Or just add one year to the last year of stats on the back of the card.
The manufacturer (Hoops, Skybox, etc) usually puts their logo prominently on the front (and back) of the card.
And the card number within the set is usually on the back of the card, often in the top right corner.
I’ll stick with the top left card Michael vs. Magic as an example.
The last sale of that card was today for $2.80 + $1.59 shipping. A PSA 9 version sold for $43, but the bare minimum cost to grade a card is around $25 — $20 grading fees plus shipping. So what is the seller’s actual profit on that PSA card (assuming they are the ones who graded it) considering all costs and eBay fees? Not much. And grading comes with no guarantees. You may receive a 9…or even a 10!…but more likely an 8, or 7, or lower. The difference between grades is so slight — it can be slight off-centering from left to right, or top to bottom, or minor wear to the edges or corners. Not things you would notice unless you really study the card.
It’s also important to know that cards changed dramatically in the mid-1990s. Manufacturers started using different technologies like holograms and acetate and die-cutting, which led to cards that look like this.
And SPX is just the tip of the iceberg as far as “fancy” Jordan cards.
I intentionally selected raw (ungraded) insert cards as examples to show that there is tremendous demand for certain cards, regardless of grade. Incredibly, this is still just a small glimpse into expensive cards from the late 90s until today. But you can see that by 1997 or 1998, cards from 1991 looked aesthetically plain and boring. That, along with the overproduction, is why they don’t hold as much value today compared to stuff from a few years later.
There are always exceptions — key players or sets or error cards. But in general, if you have cards from the late 80s and early 90s, they do not sell for much. Regardless of grade, player, condition or worst of all, what a well-meaning friend or relative tells you they are or were “worth.” This is true for a lot of cards from the 60s and 70s and 90s to 2000s as well. Not all of them! But for the most part.
Jordan is a great example because he was such a legendary athlete that there are still cards made of him in sets that were released this year. But that doesn’t mean those cards are all valuable. Some, like this plain base card, sell for pennies.
Others, like this shiny orange foil card numbered to 99, can eclipse $100 or more.
Big picture: you can sell the Jordans in your photo for a couple bucks each, maybe $20 as a lot, maybe a few dollars more if you list them soon as an auction and get lucky with multiple bidders competing. But you will be competing with hundreds, if not thousands of similar listings. Seriously: there are over 25 thousand sold listings for Michael Jordan card lot, and over half (almost 10,000!) sold for under $15. And he’s a legend. What do you think cards of lesser players are generally worth?
PSA and other grading companies currently have backlogs of millions of cards because it is common knowledge that cards are hot right now. So by the time you get your cards back, regardless of grade, there will inevitably be many more like them.
The irony in all this is that cards are extremely hot right now. But it’s not the cards that have been sitting in a closet for thirty years. It’s the cards from very recently (the last 25 years) that someone like me has an intricate knowledge of which sets, and players, and card attributes are coveted. Or the cards which are true heirlooms (think 1950s and earlier) where there are just not that many which have survived all these years in great condition.
03/07/2021 at 8:30 pm #86508
Thanks for taking a look! But but…that same Jordan/Johnson card is worth upwards of $400 if it is graded as a gem mint 10!!! I see that there are many variables that would play into grading that high, and believe me I am under no illusion that mine will. I may just dip my toe in a bit though and send a few choice cards out for grading and sell some lots of raw. I’m always into learning new niches and appreciate you sharing your knowledge.
03/07/2021 at 9:25 pm #86510
These sure are interesting times and a typical Supply/Demand issue, especially for the more expensive cards.
The supply is primarily the amount of scarce graded cards on the market, and future supply, the same cards in the grading pipeline. If the number of a scarce card available goes up 5X or 10x, who knows where the price will go.
The demand has a lot to do with our current economic condition, which has helped to drive up the prices of many assets classes, including Real Estate, Stocks, Commodities and Bitcoin.
I don’t know what the economic future holds, but I imagine taking the steps to sell some inventory, sooner, than later would makes the most sense from a business standpoint.
I’m curious to see where this market stands in a year and look forward to hearing actual selling prices on the cards you guys are dealing with.
03/07/2021 at 11:15 pm #86511
Banjomoon, You wrote:
Thanks for taking a look! But but…that same Jordan/Johnson card is worth upwards of $400 if it is graded as a gem mint 10!!!
If you have an eBay store, you can use Terapeak to see the last year of sold listings, rather than 90 days. So you can see how prices have changed. In cards, the differences are quite striking. Here is the last year of listings for the Magic vs. Michael card in a PSA 10, sorted from oldest to newest.
But now I’m going to try and deflate this bubble once and for all.
I haven’t really discussed what makes a PSA 10 (or similar high grade) valuable. The crux is that many cards are not in perfect condition straight out of the pack or box or set. Often it is because of the way they’re printed, centering or surface problems. But even minor handling can result in small, almost imperceptible corner or edge issues. This is true of all cards, not just yours.
I’ll use my own store as an example. I have 46 PSA graded cards in my store from sets made in 2016 to present — meaning these cards are all 25 years newer than your Jordans, with a few from 2020 sets, so less than a year old. You might think that all of these cards would be prime candidates for grading and that all would be in near perfect-condition. Want to take a guess how many of them are graded PSA 10?
8. 8 out of 46, and these are newer cards from an era where many cards enter into the collecting world when they’re pulled from packs and boxes on camera (it’s known as “case breaking”) and immediately sent off for grading. A 10 is a rare grade, period. 9’s and 8’s are much more common, and the ‘flaws’ aren’t always something that affects the card’s eye appeal.
Next, a little bit about the grading history of your card in particular. PSA has population reports which allow you to see how many cards have been graded from a particular set and received certain grades. This is the link to the 1991 Skybox set; your card is Michael vs. Magic #333.
Of the 584 graded, you can see about half have received a 10. But here’s the real problem…
Your same Magic vs. Michael card in a PSA 10 a year ago (before the current ‘bubble’) regularly sold for $30 – $50. Now? Most sales are in the $200-$300 range with a few outliers a bit higher. What a difference a year makes. However, that’s for a PSA 10. The range for a PSA 9 — just one grade lower! — is very different. Every single sale is less than $100 and there have been sales in the last month (during the current bubble) for under $20, which is less than grading fees cost (never mind eBay fees and shipping costs).
Finally, let me offer you my unsolicited two cents on the condition of your Michael vs. Magic card. I can only zoom in so far, but even with that limitation, I have an opinion on one area of the four (centering, surface, edges and corners) that graders look at. The centering looks off left-to-right, meaning that the image on the card is printed slightly left of center. PSA 10 centering is 60/40 in either direction, at worst. Look at the width of the white border on the left versus the right. I’m confident that centering is worse than 60/40.
I can’t tell what the corners or surface are like, and you didn’t provide a picture of the back of the card, so that’s as much as I can offer. But in my non-professional opinion, just based on the left-right centering, your card is “not likely to gem,” to use the jargon of collectors.
So… are you still confident that your card’s “value” is $400…or $200…or $100?…and that its value will continue to go up in the six months it will take you to send the card for grading and get it back…and that it will receive a PSA 10? If you are, then send it in. But consider how many people have done so in the last year, and will do so over the next six months based on the very information you’re considering.
One other thing. Your Michael vs. Magic card — and almost any card from the late 80s/early 90s — is incredibly easy to find. If you don’t believe me, look at the sports cards for sale on your local Craigslist or FB Marketplace listings. It’s a guarantee that you will find many listings from that late 80s & early 90s. You might even find the same exact Michael Jordan cards. You know who’s selling them? Someone like me who has known they were basically freely available for the last 20 years, and will soon be basically freely available again.
Collectors are not paying inflated prices for these cards, regardless of grade. I know this because anyone who collected cards in the 90s has cards like this laying in their closet in what they call “junk boxes” or “common boxes.” This is why a year ago that the same card was selling for $30 – $50 — basically the grading fee, plus a couple bucks for the high grade and the fact that it’s Jordan. It’s a nostalgia thing. But this particular card has no nostalgia factor compared to an 86-87 Fleer Jordan rookie, or another early Jordan card, or any of the fancy Jordan cards that have come out in the last 25 years: autographs, cards with a piece of Jordan’s jersey in it, or intricate inserts like the ones I linked in my previous post. Those are the kinds of cards that someone who collects Michael Jordan wants. They don’t want “a” Michael Jordan card, they want a specific Jordan card because it’s from a popular set or it has a crazy design or another desirable attribute. Cards from the early 90’s didn’t have any of those features yet, and they were printed “to the moon” as the Gamestop people would say.
It’s all speculators who are buying these high grade base cards, the kinds of people who buy crypto one week and Gamestop the next and have heard that cards are now “hot” but will sell as soon as they find the next shiny object to move on to. If you can make a couple bucks off them by selling your late 80’s and early 90’s cards now, do it and don’t think twice about it. But please don’t get stuck holding these cards for six months, or worse, waiting for them to come back from PSA having spent $30/card on a bunch of PSA 7’s and 8’s. Grading companies will happily take your money to grade any card in any condition. They surely made millions of dollars in grading fees from people who heard cards were “hot” this year. Don’t fall into that trap.
If you want to “invest” in cards for grading, I would recommend not doing that. But if you still insist, my suggestion is to do research on cards from any era except the late 80’s and early 90’s. Take the time that you would spend looking up the values of your 80’s and 90’s cards, and look up vintage hockey sets, or modern soccer, or late 90’s basketball inserts like the ones I linked in my last post…the possibilities are basically endless. eBay is truly a mecca for collectors, a 24 hour flea market / hobby shop with auctions ending every night for 20+ years. It’s really cool to see the scavenger world and even the crypto-investors take notice.
03/10/2021 at 7:42 am #86603
Speaking of the kinds of people who buy crypto one week and Gamestop the next, I saw this in the paper today about NBA Top Shot: https://www.wsj.com/articles/nba-top-shot-nft-crypto-digital-collectibles-11615266042?mod=trending_now_news_pos3
That’s just a whole ‘nother level.
03/10/2021 at 4:38 pm #86612
I read the article and I still dont understand what a “digital card” is. Is it a video of the player in a game?
03/10/2021 at 7:08 pm #86614
A digital sports card (top shot) is a form of a non fungible token. They are also selling these in other areas, such as digital art and music.
Each specific top shot is basically a short sports clip, like a player making a dunk in a particular game. It’s the kind of stuff you see on ESPN. For each clip they sell a limited quantity, which can be resold on the open market.
Recently an artist made a digital sports card of himself and sold the shares for about 3 million dollars.
None of it makes any sense to me, there is big money in them right now.
03/10/2021 at 7:19 pm #86615
Its all just a form of Beanie Babies 🙂
03/11/2021 at 11:12 am #86628
Thanks for posting that Investopedia article on Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) because I had no clue. But I read it through and it’s gobbledygook. NFT is a gimmick. There is nothing about a NFT that makes it any better to do any of the things it allegedly does than a contract (which can be entirely electronic) and/or any number of different types of electronic files which can be encrypted and theoretically bought and sold to your heart’s content.
Just like Bitcoin. There’s nothing about Bitcoin that could not be done with real currency.
03/11/2021 at 12:38 pm #86630
The NFTs have been getting a lot of attention in the financial world, which is where I first heard about them. It sounds like a bunch of hooey to me too, but then again, so does Bitcoin and look what’s going on there.
It all reminds me of the fable “The Emperor’s new clothes”. Is the world going to wake up one day and decide Crypto has no value? It’s all based on faith and could end up being the king of Ponzi schemes….
Or could I be missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime… who knows.
03/11/2021 at 7:38 pm #86636
NFTs have gotten big in music too, and sometimes the music NFT’s are attached to something physical, like a limited edition vinyl or future concert tickets. Here’s an article I read about that.
the kinds of people who spend hundreds or even thousands on something purely to own it — to say it’s theirs — have such a different way of looking at things than we scavengers do. Obviously I can only barely understand this mindset, since like all of you I’m the type who hunts for good deals and bargains and researches everything. I don’t really know what it’s like to not think that way. We’ve all built our eBay businesses around these skills, and also at some point got attracted by the idea of “owning our time” as Jay and Ryanne have called it.
But for many others (the types who are buying NFTs for $$$$ for sure), the relationship between time and money is completely different, even close to the opposite. Everyone’s balance of what they value, even within this forum, is probably a little bit different, too.
03/11/2021 at 7:44 pm #86637
I dont know what NFT is, but one just sold for $60-MILION doll hairs.
03/10/2021 at 4:33 pm #86611
Temudgin, Believe it or not the Top Shot stuff is not completely novel! Companies have tried digital cards for over 15 years now…the first being eTopps which was not exactly a success. Another main card company, Panini, developed a fairly successful “blockchain” insert that has a bit of popularity. Some collectors want to collect every card of a certain player so the digital stuff is kind of an extension of that…particularly among urban millennials who may not have the physical space for a traditional physical collection.
At least Panini’s blockchain inserts allow you to “add” digital cards to your “digital collection.” Don’t ask me to try and explain what a Top Shot collection would look like. I read about it on the collectors forum I hang out in, and thought it sounded bizarre. Particularly because many of the video clips are like…a steal or dunk in the third quarter of a relatively meaningless game. It would be one thing if all the clips were legendary players or amazing plays. But obviously there’s demand for more than that, at least for now!
I can’t imagine Top Shot will retain its popularity, or anything like current prices, in the short-term future (like when fans can go to live games again), never mind a few years from now. But I’m sure many would say the same thing about modern cards, yet cards have had their own little niche market for 20+ years and that market is clearly growing. And a lot of the card innovations that were initially looked at with skepticism (like ultra-expensive $10,000+ boxes or boxes with only one card in them) have stuck around, so anything is truly possible.
03/11/2021 at 8:05 pm #86638ZachParticipant
- Location: Kansas City
Interesting conversation. Thanks everyone for sharing your insights. I used to collect basketball cards as a kid, but my collection was recently stolen out of a storage unit. Luckily (I guess), pretty much all of those cards were from that late 80s to early 90s era, so the thieves probably didn’t get much for them even with the recent spike in prices.
Personally, for online reselling, I stay clear of almost anything made with the sole purpose as a “collectors item,” unless I just get it dirt cheap. All of these people jumping into the sports card market are creating a get-rich-quick bubble, and that bubble will eventually burst.
03/12/2021 at 11:30 am #86648SharynParticipant
- Location: Central NJ
I just read through a newsletter email that I get every week day morning. It gives a summary of the news from the past 24 hours. It is called “The Skimm”. It is written in a “millennial” style of writing, so just keep that in mind. I like the style, it is just different. But, I think they try to give an explanation of NFTs that is a bit more understandable.
NFTs are a BFD.
Yeah…you lost me.
NFTs. They stand for non-fungible (read: irreplaceable) tokens. They’re kind of like unique deeds or trading cards…but make ’em digital. Normally when an artist sells a painting, people buy the physical thing. But in a world of GIFs, JPGs, and MP3s, collectors want to be able to say ‘I own that’ about art that’s circulating in the digital space for free. Enter: NFTs.
And they are…?
Expensive bragging rights. NFTs have unique identifiers to track who sold and bought anything in the digital world – from Jack Dorsey’s first tweet (on track to rake in $2.5 million) to a Kings of Leon album. How do you own a tweet, you might ask? You don’t. You own the idea of owning the tweet. Eccentric? Sure. In any case, whoever pays up gets a token – encoded with fancy crypto magic – that proves they did it. Quite the flex.
Why am I hearing about it now?
Yesterday, an NFT by an artist known as Beeple sold for $69 million – putting Beeps among “the top three most valuable living artists.” It surpassed bids for work by artists like Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dalí. And was the first time auction house Christie’s ever sold a completely digital NFT. Another first for Christie’s: accepting Ethereum – a cryptocurrency. The auction house reportedly says it would be open to selling tokens like this in the future – but that it won’t quit its day job of selling actual, physical paintings.
Idk how to feel about this.
It’s a lot. But there’s more to the story than just bragging rights: NFTs can provide musicians and artists with a new source of revenue. For the buyer, NFTs can be a form of investment that could earn some profits. But keep in mind: the market is still evolving. And investing in NFTs isn’t exactly a tried and true strategy.
The digital age for buying and selling content is taking a new direction. Now, some artists and musicians are cashing in on the opportunities cryptocurrencies are creating. And people with lots of money are finding new ways to spend it. And that’s the NFTea.
03/12/2021 at 12:51 pm #86650
Great Post Sharyn..
For the artists, creators, early adopters and auction houses, it looks like a homerun.
03/12/2021 at 12:49 pm #86649Antique FrogParticipant
- Location: Leicester
Hmm… Christie’s seem to be implying that they will be paid in Ether for the Beeple, which probably explains the inflated price. They were laying off staff, closing departments and taking pay cuts last year. Now they’re rolling in Ether. 🙂
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