Possessing a vintage baseball card or sports collection doesn’t entitle somebody to significant amounts of money. Listed below are 10 top reasons why your baseball cards and/or sports memorabilia collection might not be worth top dollar.
1. The baseball cards you have are all of “common” players and not the Stars (Mantle, DiMaggio, etc.) The “stars” and “Hall of Fame members” command a much higher price tag.
2. Your baseball cards look like they have sharp corners, but upon measuring each card, it becomes clear that the cards were trimmed (A process used to make trading cards have sharp corners). This is tampering. Buyers don’t like to purchase restored/trimmed cards. They want to buy cards that have the same dimensions as when they left the factory a number of years ago.
3. Personalized autographs command less value than non-personalized autographs. A personalized autograph is less valuable when it comes time to resell the item. A baseball signed by Mickey Mantle personalized to “Bart Smithers” might carry a very high sentimental value to you because you met Mr. Mantle and he signed it for you. To meet an athlete in person, let alone a guy in the Hall of Fame like Mickey Mantle is an experience you will never forget. This is a memory that you will share with your friends and grandchildren forever. I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of professional athletes and each one has a different story. However, unless you can find another Bart Smithers who wants to buy this ball, you might find it hard to resell it. Mr. John Smith doesn’t want to have a Bart Smithers signed baseball. If Mr. Mantle would have just signed his name on the sweet spot, your baseball would command a higher resale value. Nobody wants to display an autographed baseball on their bookshelf or fireplace that doesn’t have their name on it. When Mr. John Smith decides to resell the baseball at a later date, he will have the same problem as you had. People deduct value because of the personalization.
4. Your signed Babe Ruth baseball has 6 other signatures on it. Babe Ruth is one of the greatest signatures to obtain. Everybody would like to have a Babe Ruth autograph. However, most of them do not want a Babe Ruth autograph with several other autographs on the same baseball. Some people might think that the baseball should be worth more because it has more signatures. This is false. There is not much demand for this type of item. Therefore, your item will still sell, but for a much lower price.
5. Keep your autographs in a cool, dry area. Exposure to sun and other harsh climates can do damage to the signatures. Sunlight can yellow the baseball. Putting your baseball in a ball cube is probably a good idea if you want to protect it from fingerprints, etc. However, do NOT apply shellac to any of the signatures. For those of you who do not know, shellac is a substance used to preserve the signatures on a baseball from ever going away. The idea being, if I apply a coat of shellac to the signatures on the baseball, they will never go away. This form of preservation used to be very popular. Nowadays, it is a sure way to decrease the value of your collectibles.
6. Besides a baseball card having sharp corners and free of creasing, it must be perfectly centered to receive top dollar. Perfect centering is both up and down and left to right on the card. Off-centering greatly detracts from the visual greatness of the card.
7. As I stated above, having mint corners and a perfectly centered card are crucial. However, creasing is one of the easiest ways to get less money for your card. Creasing is usually more evident in the lower condition cards. However, I have seen creasing in some better condition cards. Sometimes the creasing might not be evident to the naked eye. Furthermore, creasing might only exist on the back (rear) side of the card. It is important to look at BOTH sides of the card.
8. Supply and Demand are driving forces in any market. The Sports Collectibles market is no exception. For example, you just found 2,000 1952 Topps High numbered common cards. These cards are worth more than the lower numbered cards. Furthermore, there has not been a find of this magnitude in ten years. As you can imagine, there will be some serious demand for your 2,000 cards. Therefore, you will get a nice premium for your collection. However, let’s say that the exact opposite occurred. The supply of 1952 High numbered cards greatly outstrips demand because there have been several recent finds. Card dealers and collectors do not need any more cards from this set and it seems like this set is not that hard to find anymore because the 1952 Topps cards seem to be popping up on a monthly basis. The extreme supply filled everybody’s wants lists and there is not any more demand for this issue. The above example demonstrates the supply/demand forces at work. Remember, your collection is only worth what somebody else wants to pay you for it. It is not determined by how much you think it is worth. The seller always has a bias because it is their own collection.
9. The New York Yankees have won 26 World Series titles since the inception of baseball. This is by far the most titles by any baseball team. Being that New York is a large state, they also have a huge fan base. Many baseball players who played on the Yankees became included into the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you grew up in the Bronx you probably only collected New York Yankees collectibles. However, if you grew up in Michigan, you only had the Detroit Tigers to root for. They have only won 4 World Series Championships compared to the Yankees 26. Michigan is also much smaller in size and population. Only a few Tigers’ players’ were inducted into the Hall of Fame. You probably haven’t even heard of most of them. Depending on where you grew up, you collected baseball cards of the region or state. However, Yankees sports memorabilia is worth considerably more than the Detroit Tigers memorabilia. The region where you grew up in determined what you collected, and several decades later, affects the value as well.
10. Not everything vintage is worth something. Baseball Cards, Game used bats, signed baseballs, championship rings, unopened baseball packs, and World Series press pins (in no particular order) are just some items that are worth money. Old newspapers and ticket stubs are generally not worth anything. If you’re favorite hobby was to collect tickets stubs as a kid, your collection is virtually worthless compared to your buddy who collected baseball cards.
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