For those of you who ever thought about investing in post 1960s baseball cards
and/o bought cards from the 1980's for your kids or nephews...you'll want to read
this April 23rd Wall Street Journal story... and weep
Lesson Learned: There is no cardboard like oldcardboard.
I bought a really nice 1933 Goudey Grove at a show in Manhattan in March 1989. It cost me about $225, and for a 16 year old kid was about all I could afford to spend on a baseball card back then. About 15 years later, I had it graded by SGC and it came back a 60. That card in that condition just sold for about $350 on ebay. So while I am happy that there was an appreciation in value there -- as opposed to my collection of 1980s and 1990s Topps cards -- mid-grade Goudeys have only somewhat appreciated since the late 1980s.
Similarly, I bought a beautiful T206 Bender Portrait in 1997 for about $150. The card later graded an SGC 50 and is not worth much more than what I paid for it. The $350 I put on a Matty White Cap that came back an SGC 60 on the same day is a different story, as that card has basically tripled in value.
All I'm saying is that there is some luck involved and it is not as simple as just picking card collecting eras.
Any card being bought and sold in 100 or 1,000 card bricks of identical top condition items wasn't destined to pay for the kids' college tuition through long term appreciation. That was apparent in 1989 and it is playing out now. Plenty of people made tons of money on modern cards; they just had to time it right. It was pure casino capitalism, the poor man's penny stocks.
Many 60's and 70's rookie cards have softened quite a bit in the past few years, and the recession has made things even worse. Lately I've picked up a few rookie cards from that era that I always wanted, but never wanted to pay up for. In the past few months I've added Fisk, Brett, Billy Willams, and Marichal rookies to my collection - all were graded SGC 88 and I bought each for half or less of the prices in a Beckett I have from 1993.
Funny thing is that the conventional wisdom back in the day was that you couldn't go wrong investing in rookie cards. The especially popular method was to buy rookie cards of soon to be Hall of Famers like Carlton, Schmidt, or Nolan Ryan before they got elected to the Hall. The problem, of course, was that those guys getting in surprised absolutely nobody and the event was already priced into the cards and then some.
It was all about timing in the late 80s and early 90s. Get in, get out and try to predict the next hot product or card. I remember buying close out 1984 wax football cases for $125 a case (8 of them) because of the Marino, Elway and Dickerson rookies. This is right when the rookie card craze started for baseball cards. I remember when people were trying to get $2 for the '84 Topps Mattingly rookies and thinking everyone was nuts but hey, why not play the game. I dumped the last of the 84T wax football for $1600 a case and I could have sold more if I had more of them. I was never into that rookie card crap, to me I liked reading the stats of the players at the end of their careers. I liked those '76 Aaron cards with that huge HR total on the back.
People can't seem to give away the cards from the 80s or 90s now. The sad part is that a lot of people got turned off when they saw the value of the cards go down so drastically. It soured a whole generation on baseball cards. However, there were a few that stuck around and are now part of this vintage collecting crowd. Heck, I don't even know what's being sold these days.
does have one positive outcome...I use those boxes to occasionally satisfy my hunger for opening packs...and depending on the issue, you can pick up an entire box for the same price as some of today's packs!
and 1984 Fleer will always have a special place in my heart, -as a single cello pack of those cards that my Mom brought home from the grocery store is what first got me interested in blowing all my money on baseball cards...
I've always enjoyed players' last cards because of the statistical pile-ups on the backs. Besides the 1976 Aaron, my other favorites are the 1969 Mantle and the 1973 Clemente.
I think as people of my generation start reaching middle age and start getting nostalgic for their childhoods they will start collecting cards from the early 1970s more and more. I know I've spent some time lately trying to fill out and upgrade my cards from those sets, strictly because I realized that the cards were 30-40 years old and make me smile when I go through them. Plus, nice ones are so friggin' cheap lately that it is almost pain-free to go after them.
The 73 Clemente is a great card...I always liked the perspective of the photo on that one. Last cards are great when a guy played his entire career with one team, or at least ends it on a team where he spent some significant time. There's something a little sad about seeing Mays on the Mets and Harmon Killebrew on the Royals.
you said "It soured a whole generation on baseball cards. However, there were a few that stuck around and are now part of this vintage collecting crowd. Heck, I don't even know what's being sold these days. "
i disagree...i think a lot of those collectors (including myself) developed a love for cards that continues today...we didnt know they were worthless until AFTER the fact--many years later....so the enjoyment of those collecting years is still there and only the most cynical used the learned lesson to quit the hobby....
...I still have 500 Ron Jones 1989 Topps cards if anyone is interested....
Like alot of us I have a backroom full of cards & sets from the 1986--1992 era of vast overproduction.
About 2 months ago I tried one of those "FREE under $50" ads w/ a local weekly PennySaver type paper--for example 4 complete sets 88-89-90-91 Topps for 1/2 Beckett-- just to see if I'd get any response at all.
As of this AM when I sold a guy 8 sets for $65 from a free ad I have sold a total of 28 junk wax sets for $280---at an average far & above what the going rate really is.
The overproduced 86 and up cardboard issues are very nice sets, and 1989 and under is almost considered vintage at this point. Great photo's and stats and if you get sick of storing them they are cheaper than firewood !
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