Why do we love cards? Are we really big fans of the players or just big fans of money ? Think about it. You're sitting down one day holding a c55 Vezina in your hand that has been graded very high - what is the first thing that will come to your mind ? "Ah, Vezina ... what a great player he was ..." or "Damn! This must be expensive like hell, I wish I could own it!" See the difference , folks? I mean how can one really like someone who played like 100 years ago? lol Has anyone ever seen Vezina play? No. So then how can you like him? Because of his expensive cards? Oh wait, and don't say you'd like Vezina if his cards were not worth crap. See what I mean? It's always about the money.
I'm sure it's some of each. Part of the fascination with cards does stem from the fact that a small segment of society has ascribed some - and in some cases, great - value to them. But I think most vintage collectors also appreciate the history, the greats and the colorful characters of the game.
How did Vezina cards get so expensive? Because, Georges Vezina has been admired and respected for his skills as a goalie. Even though other player's cards are rare, his are among the highest valued. Vezina's REPUTATION came first, making his cards more sought after and valuable. Demand goes up, chases a short supply and voila! High prices for Vezina cards. Rookie cards have always been the most sought after for a player, hence the especially high price for a Vezina rookie card (plus the C55 cards look cool!). Now, why do we still seek his cards, even though we've never seen him play? There are many reasons, of course. Some people may be out for a profit, and buy the card as an investment. I don't think that accounts for most purchases of Vezina cards. Hockey cards are not exactly a sure fire investment, anyway. I think many people like to connect to the past, in particular "legends" from the past. Cards and autographs of great sportsmen and politicians are widely sought after, even though no one is alive to witness their accomplishments. For some, I think it is "the chase." To be able to acquire something rare, that few others can acquire, is exciting for many buyers. After all, why is eBay awash with "1/1" claims? It is the dream of many collectors to own that "1 of a kind" card. Also, the auction formats now in wide use help to keep competition (and prices) up. I have seen BuyItNow items on eBay sitting there, whenthe same item up for auction yields twice the money of the BIN one!!
In conclusion, I think the fame comes first, prices go up, then various other factors kick in to keep the price high. Greed may contribute, but in my opinion, it is a minor contributor.
THANKS FOR READING THIS!
How about being a really big fan of the game which in turns trickles down to a appreciation of a few or a lot of players. I started watching at 5 years old. My first cards I bought when I was 7 in 1966 (which I still have, no Orr though "rats"). Once you know and played you develop a passion for the game of hockey and all its players throughout its history which we learned about from film, books and tall tales of certain players.
Hockey card collecting is just an extension of the passion. Again, I stared in 1966 and completed my collection in 1978. Way B-4 Ebay, local card shops and card shows. I never seen Vezina play, read about his greatness , seen a little footage, and also spoke with older gentlemen when I was yonger who have had the fortune of seeing him in action. I would keep his card for the player and legend he was, like every single card of every single player of every single set that I have.
Not even cards--anything that links a player of interst to the past is a collectible item in my book.
Being a small magazine/newspaper article ot an oddball ( other collectors WTF is that ) item; makes me appreciate the game even more.
Theres' already plenty of DONALD TRUMPS and BILL GATES out there showcasing their $$$$ but how many knowledgeable hockey historians for the love of the game and not for $$$.
Keep in mind I love the cards I acquire but resaerch on each player is done to enahnce the experiecne..
I've always thought that the act of collecting itself (collecting anything, not just cards), or maybe more accurately "the compulsion to collect", was sufficiently bizarre to warrant extensive scholarly investigation; have to be a branch of psychology, say a Phd in Applied Obsessive Accumulation. So I'd say our chances of getting to the bottom of it here are slim, despite all of the medical professionals, lawyers, teachers etc. we have here; no offense.
But I wanted to comment about collecting people that we have never seen play or who may have been long dead before we were born. I collect Milt Schmidt because I admire him a great deal, said admiration being derived from what I have read about him, his accomplishments and deeds both on and off the ice; because of what he represents to a franchise that I have followed and cheered for since I was a wee lad; and because of how he carries and represents himself in the few interviews (print and video) that I have seen of him. I think that he is a great man who has lived an interesting life and is someone worthy of emulation. Could be completely wrong of course but you have to go with your instincts sometimes.
Of course it goes without saying that the underlying reason is a passion and love of the game of hockey. If you go from the specific to the general (I am not talking about collecting as an investment vehicle; because I don't think this is "collecting" at all) there are lots of people who express this through collecting multiple players and the "greats of the game" from an early era is a logical way to do that. The great thing about it for me is that however you do it, it (collecting) is a great way of helping to ensure that the history of the game is preserved. My son never saw Bobby Orr play but I am happy to say that, thanks at least in part to my collecting, he has a healthy appreciation of what a great hockey player and human being he was/is; I hope so anyway, he likes the Habs so I'm not so sure if I can always trust him.
since any collector can collect anything he wants. even someone whose in it for the money, must have some liking for what collecting hobby he is into. unless you're some sort of investment fund who analyzes collecting markets and invests appropriately. i think its a combination of both collecting interest and the money when someone buys a collectible. signed greg
As a collector of (very low end) cards, memorabilia, and autographs of Jewish hockey players, I think that my collection is not monetarily valuable like others, but itís extremely interesting and rewarding from a social/cultural/religious standpoint.
For me, owning a card is to appreciate it for its (1) monetary value, (2) the stature/history of the player and sport, (3) the coolness of having something 50, 60, 70 or 100+ years old, (4) the historical context of the card (flimsy paper that was a throw-away and an add-on to some other product that has survived all of the possible effects of touching, mold, sunlight, etc.; moreover, that it survived the paper drives of World War II). I don't list them in any order of importance. I would not derive the same pleasure and satisfaction from owning a 1933 Goudey Nap Lajoie PSA 9, 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 10 or any other high-end card from any sport as I do from a hockey card. The PSA 8 Champ's Cigarette Howie Morenz is one of my holy grails, not only because of condition, scarcity, monetary value, but also because Howie Morenz was one of the best hockey players ever, a key member of the powerful Habs of the 20's and 30's, a tragic ending, and on and on. I know that some people don't understand the point of owning (and paying for) high-graded cards, but that same Champ's Cigarette Morenz in a lower grade would then not encompass all of the features that I mentioned before.
The long answer to the short question is that it is not only the money, but all of the aspects of the card, the player and the sport as well.
Well said, John. In addition to the value and history of the game and players, I do often think about the journey that these cards have taken before they arrive in my hands.
Yesterday I gave one of my favorite students a few '56 Topps baseball commons that were pretty beat. Not quite as cool as the trimmed T206's I gave away last year, but he still really appreciated them. Anyway, a couple of the cards had tape on back and he was asking me about that. After telling him that was probably a typical among collectors years ago, he said something to the effect of "That'd be cool if there were a Carfax for old cards." Pretty insightful for a 4th grader, I thought, but I guess that's why he's one of my favorites.
I agree that it's a combination of both, but I think when it comes to people spending thousands of dollars on a card, I believe it's more about the monetary value (and the ability to impress fellow collectors). Sure, I have a list of hard-to-find "white whales," and have dreamt of cards in mastro, but even for those cards I would never drastically overpay. Every .20 listing day, I see cards I want and can afford yet pass on because they are overpriced.
As much as collectors are reluctant to admit it, I believe high-dollar cards are a quasi-investment. I don't think most in the hobby would pay $5k+ for a card if they didn't expect to be able to at least get their money back when they resell the card. Ask yourself if you would pay $8k for a card you would never see again, but also knew you could only resell for $5k. I guess know are a few in the hobby who have enough income that $8k is lunch money (e.g., Dmitri Young, Keith Olberman, etc.), but I don't think those people make up the majority of collectors.
I agree that it's a combination of both. As a fairly new vintage collector I'm just happy to add something to my collection when I can. As a teenager 20 years ago it was all about getting that Steve Yzerman rookie because it was worth $5 in the guide. As I've matured, and thanks to my job, I have a lot more appreciation for the history of the game and the cards that go with it. I'm also fascinated with the history and development of the game, the players, equipment and everything else that goes with the game I love. I hope that the cards I'm buying now will be with me for a long time but also like to know that I can recoup my money and maybe make a little if they have to be sold at some point. I don't think there's anything wrong with liking them for the money and for the enjoyment of collecting. So yah, it's both, but I think it's that way for all of us.
I wish that I owned the PSA 8 Champ's Cigarette Howie Morenz. I am and probably will be searching for it for quite awhile. I have a PSA 5, for now. For me, the longer that I have to search for something, the more I want it. So far, 6 years and counting for it to become available.
See, the thing that I don't get is why some feel that the desire to own something because of it's value/scarcity needs to be justified as something other than just that. I personally think it's nuts to pay exorbitant sums for PSA10s etc. but I think I understand (but not explain; see comments re: Phd above) the desire to own something that no one else does, to have "the best" of something. It seems to be something inate (inane ?) in human beings; part of the human condition; yada-yada. But let's be honest John, all of your criteria save one are satisified by your PSA5 Morenz.
To someone who collects Poor-Fair cards, an Ex or Near-Mint seems unfathomable. The same can be said for someone who is happy with an altered card over a graded card. And still, the non-collector is befuddled and bemused by the collector. If money were not an issue, I surmise that most people would pick a higher over a lower graded one. I think that the controversy starts when you see the exponentially higher price in the next grade and say "Why would I pay 2,3,4X for something that is minutely better-conditioned as oppose to buy 5,10,20+ more cards?" Short of stealing, trading sex for cards, etc., everyone has a collecting budget. Based on that, you make a decision about what to collect, how much to collect and what condition is desired and/or acceptable. Unfortunately, I have collecting-itis, type A personality and am a perfectionist. This is a really, really bad combination when it comes to collecting.
I agree John and when people say that they would rather have a PSA 8 over a PSA 9 or 10, I simply ask why not be happy with a PSA 3 or 4? We all have standards and it has been proven time and time again that the PSA 10's and the highest graded card of a particular player are the cards that will hold the most value and gain the most value over an X amount of time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to own the best of something. Thanks and good luck with the Morenz.
I think, Damir, you ask yourself a wrong question.
We all have pockets first and then we build our standards based on what we have in our pockets. So, when people say that they would rather have a PSA 8 over a PSA 9 or 10, it is pure psychological - it simply means that PSA 8 is the highest grade of a card they can afford. Why should they be happy with a PSA 3 if they can do better...but not good enough to obtain a PSA 10?
Elmar, there are alot of collectors who CAN afford to upgrade and choose not to. I talk to some of those collectors at the shows here. I was refering to those people in my post. I myself go for the highest grade that I can afford like most, but there are people who just want to have the card as opposed to having the card in the highest grade possible. The whole point was about standards that we collectors have. I am never surprised at final prices realized because of this. I think it shows how different collectors and their goals are in our hobby. Thanks for the response.
I never said there was anything wrong with it Damir, if you are referring to my comment; in fact I said that I understood it, that is, the desire to own the 1/1, the highest grade, "the best". But the question in this thread was "is it the cards or the money" and when you are talking about this aspect of the hobby it is clearly about the money. You are the one mentioning value.
But I wanted to comment about the idea that if you are not that "type" of collector then why not settle for a 3 or a dog-eared copy instead of a 7 or 8. I don't think this is a good argument. My idea of an acceptable card is one that looks as close to an "original" as is reasonably possible; i.e. I like to have a card that looks like I could have pulled it from a pack. That's why something like centering is not a big deal for me, that's the way it was produced. For me, I've found that PSA6-8 is the range that satisfies that criteria. Anything less is likely suffering from post-production damage. Now, if I ever decide to add some pre-war cards to my collection I will likely have to accept this and adjust my standards accordingly, but if money is not an option on a particular card I will take the 7 of course.
And I think I am one of those people that you refer to - I have some super-nice Orr cards, ungraded. If one of those came back a PSA10 it would be sold in an instant, replaced with a nice 7 or 8; and a bunch of other nice cards.
Al, thanks for the response. I just wanted to point out how different we as collectors are. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not going after the "1 of 1" or going after the PSA 10. If I had some ungraded Orr's come back in PSA 10 holders like you mentioned I would keep them rather than sell them right away and get other stuff. The way I see it, an Orr or other vintage superstar in a PSA 10 will retain it's value even if there are more 10's in the future. So there comes the "money" aspect of it. I also have a few PSA 3 C57's that I enjoy and am not looking to sell so there goes the "cards" aspect of it. I think it's great to have a collection that you are happy to keep and a collection to buy and sell as an investment later on or in the near future. No matter which path we take, for joy or profit, I think the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the sport and it's history. Thanks.