Putting the eBay issue to the side for the moment, we can't ignore the fact that the Buy/Sell/Trade section of this website is so sparse with transactions compared with similar sections of sport collectible websites (e.g., Blowout Cards).
The buy sell trade section here has never been busy. For my part I have had more private deals this year than any other. Deals with people that I have met here, or from the Wrapper, or even from eBay. Getting the want list out there has produced a lot of results for me. If you sit and wait for stuff to find you it would be a pretty inactive experience. Maybe I just don't know what you mean by dead. I'm picking up stuff all the time and working on more and more new sets. I'm having a great time.
any T cards lately? Like Hassan or Mecca cards? Forget it. How about Superman; prices are nowhere
near where they use to be. N2 Indians, everyone's favorite, try selling an off mint one now forget
it. Your best year so far? You were not at any of the shows I was at. Should I list some more
cards that are down in price? Ginter Champions now only baseball sells. Hobby is downnnnnnn.
Now only rare or scarce cards in ex condition sells - fact!!!!
This message has been edited by agfav on Dec 31, 2016 10:03 PM
Well, that's true as there really aren't any Midwest shows, at all. So since I went to zero shows in 2016 you didn't see me at them. Sell? It's a very rare day when I sell anything. It just doesn't happen. I have placed a couple (literally two I think) of ads in the Wrapper in the past to move cards that I had upgraded and did just fine. I'm not sure that I have ever sold a card on eBay. Basically, I have every card that I have ever acquired since 1978. I have never lost interest in what I collect and don't expect that I ever will (after thirty-eight years why would I?). So, for me anyway, it's as strong as it has ever been. Maybe I'm happy because prices are falling (although some of the prices I pay I think are pretty strong) which creates buying opportunity and that's why I think it's alive and well.
Whatever, I am enjoying this hobby as much today as I did as a kid saving my dimes to run to the local Linders and buy Star Wars packs. I guess that I have never tried making money at it so I'm indifferent to that side of the story.
This message has been edited by PancakeBunny on Dec 31, 2016 10:49 PM
I don't see the non-sports hobby as being "dead", not by a longshot. There are several sources and factors to consider.
1) Card Shows
3) Major Auction Houses (Goldin, PWCC, Hakes, etc)
4) "The Wrapper"
5) Online Non-Sports Sellers
6) Non-Sports Forums
7) Wrappers and Boxes
8) High-grade vs Low-Grade
9) Dwindling supply of higher-grade and scarce cards once they are situated into a permanent collector's accumulation
10) Dwindling supply of unopened boxes/packs for certain popular titles ("Star Trek" Topps 1976 for one)
11) Auctions with ridiculously over-priced quality specimens of cards, packs and unopened boxes
12) Division of collectors who embrace graded vs non-graded cards
13) Change in collecting culture
14) Non-Sports "Price Guide"
15) Collecting goals
I'll go into these one by one. These are my opinions, and I may not be right in some cases. I've been collecting since 1977, heaviest from 1977-1987 and then 2005-present.
1) Card Shows
I honestly wish I could attend more of these as being limited to just EBay and the occasional auctions from other sources is limited, plus "The Wrapper" has great bargains that tend to go to whoever gets the periodical the fastest via mail (just recently three 1940 "Superman" PSA 6 specimens sold for just $50 each). Not ever collector can attend every show, or in some cases any show. I just wish that more sellers posted their items online. It would be even nicer if a repository site for just non-sports collectors could be designed for these purposes. Non-sports isn't "dead", it just needs better exposure.
2) Ebay - not the greatest but not bad either. It's not about finding "bargains" in this hobby...in some cases it is simply about finding what you are looking for, period. Ebay helps. You can quickly, for example, zoom in on whether a "Mars Attacks" card #55 checklist (unmarked) is being offered, or one of the ultra-rare "G-Men" cards. Forget the price...when you need something scarce finding it is more important. Or if you are looking for unopened boxes, packs or even raw sets to cherry pick for possible PSA submission, EBay is a good source.
3) Major Auction Houses - these are a plus/minus impact on the hobby...great for sellers and deep-pocket collectors, so-so for your average buyer. Most auctioneers always want "high quality" items...PSA 10, PSA 9, high grade sets, rare cards, etc. I understand the idea behind this, printed space in an auction catalog is expensive and populating it with (for example) lots of unopened boxes of "Jaws II" cards would likely tick off someone reading it. But the auctioneers do serve a purpose even if the prices tend to go overboard quite often.
4) "The Wrapper" is proof positive that the hobby is not "dead". It only comes out 7 times per year now as its publisher is now in his 40th year or doing so, but there is a lot of good deals here and for items not ridiculously priced or very low-grade business is steady for vintage items, but maybe not so much for more modern items and less-popular items ("Here's Bo", for example)
5) Other Online Sellers - there are a large number of these sellers, and not all of them are well-publicized. I wish a central repository of their websites existed. A few years back I got lucky when I discovered a since-defunct site called "Mickey's Clubhouse" where the owner sold mostly sports but also non-sports cards, and I purchased from him pretty much ALL the "G-Men" 1936 cards, and a bunch of 1940 "Superman" cards in PSA 4, 5 and 6 condition at cheap prices plus some other cards. The hobby needs as many of these sellers as possible to have more visibility and accessibility as there are a lot of great items there just waiting to be found.
6) Non-Sports Forums are robust including a few on Facebook. Both old and new collectors alike peruse and reply on the forum, making contacts, sharing their finds and on occasion brokering a sale or trade.
7) Wrappers and Boxes - outside of card shows and private sales, wrapper auctions are much more scarce now than they were 30 years ago. Just try finding over an entire year via the auction house route a "Robin Hood" 5cent wrapper or something of equal scarcity. There used to be dozens of high quality wrappers for sale and auction in "The Wrapper" alone decades ago, but most, I suspect, are now permanently situated in dedicated collections and seldom change hands publicly. Boxes are an even tougher market due to the even smaller collector base, especially for the scarcest of boxes. That stated, perhaps for box and wrapper collectors from the vintage era, pickings are so slim that upgrading or adding to a collection is too far and few in between to maintain energy in that element of the hobby.
8) High Grade vs Low Grade - this is definitely an issue with the hobby, especially when it comes to PSA/graded collectors. Time was there used to always be a mix of high-end and low-end collectors. In the pre-PSA-days some collectors were perfectly content to acquire a set in any condition above "Poor", where others would seek out the highest quality specimen possible. But PSA collectors, expect for those collecting ultra-rare cards, seem to be fixed on PSA 9 or better, totally eschewing in some cases even a PSA 7 or 8 specimen. This is especially true of modern sets...just look at how many unsold PSA 7 and below "Star Wars" Topps 1977 cards remain unsold for months on-end unless it is a key card like #1 or one of the 1st series stickers. As more and more higher-grade cards are submitted to PSA the problem will only intensify. So long as there is a decent amount of collectors perfectly willing to collect in low-mid-grade the hobby will never be "dead", but some collectors have migrated to collecting graded cards and tend to prefer higher-grades, so over time this shift will hurt the hobby.
9) Dwindling Supply... - there are some card sets that barely have any specimens for auction or sale anywhere. I can't even remember the last times that I saw certain "test" cards for sale, or higher-quality raw specimens of some sets...and then there are some sets where I barely see ANY cards for auction such as "Crusader Rabbit". A dwindling supply could block a collector from undertaking the building process from scratch of a set that they are interested in. For example, and excluding card shows, just try to find enough "Untouchables" cards from auction houses to build a set, or "Mickey Mouse" cards or even "Dick Tracy". Aside from sets that routinely trade heavily such as "Star Wars", "Wacky Packages" and "Batman Black Bats", less-popular sets are not attracting as many potential new collectors as they once had in the past.
10) Dwindling Supply of Boxes/Unopened Packs - this is definitely a niche element of the hobby BUT with the advent of PSA some collectors are gambling on finding quality cards in these unopened boxes and packs, but supplies of some titles are becoming more and more scarce as a direct result, and remaining unopened boxes are often being sold at unreasonably high prices (such as $105 for a "mint" quality "Space 1999" Donruss 1976 box, $400 for a "Good Times" Topps 1975 box, never mind prices of $100-250 per pack for "Star Trek" Topps 1976 with boxes selling for $3500-4500 and up). Personally, I'll never understand the mentality of collecting an unopened box outside of investment purposes...and unopened case collectors are a whole different matter. But unless prices come down on some of the higher-end boxes and packs that are in the hands of dealers for months and years on end, this element of the hobby will show a waning of interest and definitely will not attract a new collector of these types of collectibles.
11) Auctions with Ridiculous Prices... - we've all seen them before. There is currently a $10K+ unopened box of "Star Trek" Topps 1976, "Star Wars" Ad-Pac PSA 10's for $1300-2000 apiece, $500-700 raw ultra-rare "G-Men" cards in low quality, etc. Sellers can ask whatever they want, but if all the best stuff remains at sky-high prices then the hobby to some extent stagnates.
12) Division of Collectors Who Embrace Graded vs Non-Graded - the same happened with casino chip collecting which I also am involved with...some collectors balked at "slabbing" chips while others embraced the benefits of it. The same can be said of PSA/etc. But the problem is that there are now collectors that only collect "graded" specimens whereas decades ago you pretty much took whatever you could find. If, for example, the majority of new collectors are PSA-oriented and avoid collecting in "raw" format then the collector base becomes fragmented and the potential buyer-base dwindles for a good portion of open inventory in the hobby, and the same holds true for a "raw" collector that is frustrated because a high-grade "Three Stooges" color card might be $25-100 raw but when it is PSA 9 or 10 it could be $300-1500 or more.
13) Change in collecting culture - modern sets are more concerned with "chase cards" and "subsets", and older collectors tend to shy away from things such as "costume cards" and "autograph" cards. Stickers were fine as were the occasional inserts ("Get Smart" secret agent kits, "Rat Patrol" rings, "Freedom's War" die-cut tanks, etc), but these newer options are quite simply not for older collectors. Also the daunting aspect of building a set is not, in my opinion, as easily embraced now as it was before, especially for putting together a monster set like "Horrors of War", "G-Men", "Indian Gum" and the like. Older collectors had no problem with this due to years of purchasing unopened box, packs and cellophane packs to build their sets. Newer collectors are more apt to purchase a completed set outright. Small wonder that sports card manufacturers at some point started releasing whole sets in boxes.
14) Non-Sports "Price Guide" - note the quote marks of sarcasm here. These "guides" are often understating the values of the cards thus making it a nuisance for insurance purposes. It's a major liability issue having a high-grade "Superman" 1940 or "Mars Attacks" 1962 raw set when the "guide" assesses a value of a fraction of what the items sell for, so if anything should happen to your collectibles good luck getting back anything more than what you paid for them at best assuming you saved every purchase receipt, else you will get "price guide" price no matter how great of a deal you got at the time of the initial purchase. At least stamp and coin collectors have less to worry about in this respect now. Comic collectors of high-grade specimens have less of a problem, too, but low-grade collectors still have a problem. The hobby needs to have these "guides" brought up to speed with today's market prices and not keep them artificially low to "spur interest in the hobby" as Bob Overstreet did for years with his comic price guide.
15) Collecting goals - back in the 1970's you could go to a convention, and see for the first time a "Mars Attacks" card and quite simply fall in love with the premise of owning a set of them, attending convention after convention until that last remaining card was acquired. I have an opinion that newer collectors today, those just about to join the hobby, may have less patience to do so than collectors of old. Additionally, the case of subject matter is important as today's new collector is more likely going to embrace something based on what they grew up with...a "Walking Dead" set, or "Pokémon" type card games, etc, and less likely will consider collecting "Dark Shadows Pink" or "Monster Initial" or even "Autos of 1977". And then there is the "bargain mentality"...not every item you encounter can be at "bargain" prices. I remember years back when I saw a collector refuse to purchase "Gilligan's Island" cards in high grade condition unless they were "under $4.00 per card" because he had a goal of building a set for under $200 in high grade. Good luck with that, especially now, but the point is that with dwindling supplies of vintage cards expectations need to be re-assessed, especially for rarer items. If, for example, no one wants to stomach purchasing a single raw "Star Wars" 1977 series 1 in high grade for $5.00 or a dollar for an ungraded "Space 1999" Donruss 1976 card then prices will stagnate and both collector AND dealer interests will wane considerably.
SO, overall, I believe that the hobby is not "dead"...it just has some elements of it that are in a bit of a rut.
Thanks for the great post, Robert. This quote stuck out to me:
"9) Dwindling Supply... - there are some card sets that barely have any specimens for auction or sale anywhere. I can't even remember the last times that I saw certain "test" cards for sale, or higher-quality raw specimens of some sets...and then there are some sets where I barely see ANY cards for auction such as "Crusader Rabbit"."
Just two thoughts in that regard: (1) by "test cards" do you mean proofs? If so, I wholeheartedly agree. When I first started collecting, in the 1980s, dealers often had proof cards for sale at the shows. Other than pre-WW1 cards, which I'd gotten into in 1985 and stuck with almost exclusively, the only other cards I'd buy regularly were proof cards; cards that had one or two tones, but were missing some printed information that ended up in the final series design. I do remember the Fleer factory, for instance, in 1990, hiring the Pinkerton security company to install cameras and secret security guards within the workforce so that that stuff didn't escape the factory. Then the card companies started putting out their own old proofs as inserts. I'm not even sure there is a market for the ones that were gotten on the black market anymore. I look up things in that area on eBay all the time and never see anything outside of the Topps inserts. It's as if that whole thing never existed.
(2) The dwindling supply on sets that seemed at one time to be common is something I've noticed too. In Bob Forbes' book, or in the Murray Price Guides, for instance, cards like the T35 Ask Dad series are priced low, as if they were quite common at some point. I've gotten most of the common T types wrapped up at this point and am moving on to the ones that are rarely if ever seen. Yet somehow the T35 is now amongst that grouping. It is, in fact, the only one that is listed as being common in those previous catalogs which I now find to be "Infrequently Traded," to use Forbes' terminology. Would be curious what other types or sets people rarely see any more?
This message has been edited by bcxists on Jan 1, 2017 11:47 AM
By "test" cards I was primarily considering series such as "Land of the Giants", "Bewitched", "Julia" and the like, but "proof" cards are the most unique of all and thus any collector of these faces the most daunting of quests in this hobby. Myself, I have the top registry set on "Battlestar Galactica" (Topps 1978) but have yet to attempt to collect the "test" set beyond card number 133...too expensive and unlikely that I would ever compile a full set.
I did not even consider another niche collector within our hobby, the uncut sheet collector. In stamp collecting these are among the rarest of collectors as sheets are FAR more expensive to collect for some of the rarer issues, and preservation/storage has several logistical concerns that single card and set collectors do not have.
As for dwindling supply, again I speak from not attending today's conventions and card shows, auction houses and EBay offer very few specimens of some previously popular sets. I mentioned a few such as "Crusader Rabbit", but a spot check on EBay today yielded some surprising results...
-> "Rocketship X-M", a modern set from 1979...just six (6) full sets being auctioned
-> Not a single offering for "Flash Gordon" (1936)
-> Just three (3) "Freedom's War" die-cut tank cards
-> Just four (4) auctions for "Untouchables" 1962, all unopened packs or an empty box, no sets and no singles, and I was contemplating building this set at some point but changed my mind as a result of the lack of supply
-> I see two (2) 5 cent "Zorro" wrappers and five decent 1 cent wrappers including "Zorro" and "Superman" 1940, but nothing else of high quality from sets like "Three Stooges" 1959, "Outer Limits"...just a single "Addams Family" 1964 wrapper, a few from "Munsters" and "Gilligans' Island", but no "Hogan's Heroes"...so wrapper collectors face an even more dwindling supply
Something I totally forgot about was strip card collecting supply. I used to have years back before I sold it in 1987 a set of three 8-card strips of the first 24 "G-Men" cards that I purchased from John Neuner and later sold to Tom Garcia. But seeing uncut strips today is extremely scarce. Some come up from time to time for "Get Smart" 1965 in various conditions, but finding uncut panels from "Foreign Legion" is another matter...I happen to have one still in my collection and have not seen another in years.
I'm sure that there are other even more tough collecting challenges out there.
One more thing...dealer prices. I mentioned that while there are bargains to be found for sure, sometimes (more often than not) the choicest cards are in the hands of dealers who refuse to lower their prices no matter what. Here are some examples.
-> Collectors of "Sgt Preston" 1950 will have a field day on EBay, especially if they are going for a PSA 10 set. There are currently 22 or so auctions of gem mint 10 specimens on Ebay for $40 apiece...not a bad price all things considered as submission fees with shipping are nearly $10 per card, so 2/3 of the set is there just waiting for the right buyer
-> However trying to build a "Paladin" set (Rinso 1959) is another matter. Lots of graded specimens out there at sky high prices and they are not even PSA 8's. But the sole available set...the problem with this set is forgery as it is so easily duplicated by today's printers...and if you feel that the set being offered is real, then the asking price of $1400 is outrageously high
-> As for modern collectors and especially investors, the now classic Topps 1977 "Star Wars" set is among the most popular on the PSA registry, yet I see no one jumping at the chance to acquire the existing Ebay auction for 50 unopened boxes from all 5 series for $57.5K, or the unopened 5th series case listed for $20K. Great cards in there for sure, and for the registry collector lots of 10's no doubt...but at those prices that's insanity. It's like gambling...literally...such as unopened packs from the 1986 Fleer basketball set that go for $2K on the off-chance that a gem mint 10 of "Michael Jordan" is in the pack. And because "Star Trek" Topps 1976 gem mint 10's now are $1K to as high as $8K in gem mint 10, unopened packs are $125 and up while unopened boxes have recently sold for as high as $4500 and one is now being offered for more than $10K (unsold for many months).
Choice items at unreasonably high prices. Common sense dictates that unsold inventory is not only a lack of profit but also is stagnant inventory, yet these dealers refuse to lower their prices.
Case in point...I happen to own the top registry set of "Space 1999" by Donruss as well as several other registry sets for this series. There were only three (3) active collectors of this set about 18 months ago, and a partial case was being offered on Ebay. The seller was asking at the time $90 per box which is insane for this series. All three of us knew each other and made independent offers in the $45-55 range and the seller still refused to sell even in light of the fact that there was simply no one else out there interested. Again, sellers can ask whatever they want, but the longer the item remains unsold...depending on what it is...the value can actually go down, not up, in some cases. We told this seller that as we each continued to upgrade our set, new unopened box purchases had diminishing returns...we needed fewer and fewer cards in high grade for possible gem mint 10 submissions, and with typically just 72 cards out of 120 not affected by gum stains in these boxes, they became greater gambles for us at higher prices so we were less apt to risk purchasing unopened boxes as our sets kept upgrading. Still, the seller was unmoved, and to this day those boxes never sold nor were re-offered for sale.
All in all we are dealing with cards that are in some cases 80-100 years old so supplies are extremely scarce to begin with. In comparison stamp collectors have it much better...there are literally thousands of samples of various grades of the ever popular Columbian Exposition set out there in singles, panes and even for a few denominations uncut sheets if you have megabucks to spend. But trading card collectors have no such luck.
A bright spot in the hobby, although it can be a double-edged sword, is the finding of a "cache" of one or more sets...possibly a case of unopened boxes, possibly a vending case of cellophane packs...great for a new supply of potentially high grade cards and filler specimens, but bad for overall prices. Classic supply and demand.
One more note. I mentioned the "Cultural Change in Collecting" that has taken place.
One aspect of the modern collecting scene is something that as a vintage collector I just cannot see myself getting into..."chase cards" and also "ultra rare" cards.
Today's modern sets are not cheap...unopened boxes can easily be $120-200 retail price with single packs $5 and up. The "base set" itself seems to trade relatively cheaply on Ebay. I'll cite "Walking Dead" as one such set. But the "chase" cards...costume cards, autograph cards, etc...these can go for hundreds of dollars and up...and so-called "relic cards" for even more.
Case in point is a current Ebay auction for a "Star Trek 2009 Movie XI Starfleet Sciences Badge Relic Card RC3"...a Star Trek 2009 Movie Prop Card shown in the picture (released by Rittenhouse Archives, 2009. This card was not inserted into packs - this is a dealer incentive card. This card is hand numbered # 17 of 40, only 40 RC3 cards were produced - Because that is the number of Movie-Worn Starfleet Badges Paramount Studios provided to Rittenhouse Archives.
The card is being auctioned for $5.7K+ which is insane considering that a complete set of mid-grade "Mars Attacks" (1962) cards sells for even less.
The worst, however, was the advent of the collectible trading card games..."Magic the Gathering", "Pokémon" and "Yu-Gi Oh". Collectors purchased packs, starter decks, even entire boxes on the gambling-hopes of finding within that group a rare "Black Lotus" card or a "Charizard" or whatever, cards that sold at shows for thousands. Quite literally some kids were addicted to this not unlike a gambling addiction. Yes, many years back if we collected baseball cards by buying packs or vending cellophane packs were searched for missing player cards to complete our set, but no one single card was "ultra rare" for the most part...it was just a matter of finding that player card.
In my opinion this element of the modern hobby is no better than something that the comic book industry tried over the past 20 years..."alternate" covers. Basically the same internal artwork with a different cover. And the independent publishers tried foil covers, leather covers, even artist custom sketch covers.
And then there was the "bagged" editions of the death of "Superman" which is in my opinion the absolute low-end of the hobby. The comic itself was offered in a black bag. In fact you could not even see for sure whether that was indeed the comic book inside the bag. And yet, initially, it was trading for nearly $150-250 in open market. Now...just try selling one for more than $50 if even that much.
Classic collecting needs will always remain robust BUT to keep collector interest high and to attract a new generation of collector of older cards, the dealers who have been holding choice items hostage from the collectors because of sky-high asking prices need to be more reasonable and bring certain prices down else hobby stagnation will occur to a measurable extent.
Sorry for a third post but one more anecdote to share based on one of the points that I made about the "Price Guide(s)" keeping prices low.
Years back...pre-1987...I used to collect "Foreign Legion" cards (I forget if they were 1938 or 1940).
The price guides of that era had them listed as $1/$2/$4 in the three standard grading levels which I think were something like good/excellent/near-mint (not unlike the three Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide grades from the originally released annual guides).
Well, I was purchasing these cards for $12 and reselling them for $20...and that was 30 years ago.
Fast forward to there here and now.
Based on today's PSA price guide resource, one specific title and cards to point out...
Star Trek (Topps 1976) - "Common" cards have a price of $550 in PSA 10 yet Pop 1's sell for $4K and up and even a Pop 5 sells for $1K and up
Now for the major problem...and I do mean MAJOR.
Insurance can, at minimum, reimburse you for the cost of a lost purchase made. But to a collector who won a PSA 9 "Mars Attacks" card for a relative bargain price of $1,000 that offers little solace if the card is stolen and that's all you get back considering it is worth potentially triple that.
Worse...a PSA submitter gets a Pop 1 of a card from the "Star Trek" 1976 set. Technically your cost of the card was under $10. There is no prior sale to base the price on even though other Pop 1's sell for $4K to as high as $8K. Good luck getting that back in case of theft or fire/water damage.
Interesting posts to read and thanks for taking the time. I'm not familiar with almost any of the stuff to which you are referring. I do go a little bit into R cards, but pretty much don't buy ANYTHING after WW2.
I started young, at the age of eight, and remember the day my dad took me to a hotel in Valley Forge, PA, to a small card-show, and gave me my $20 allowance for the month. I walked around quickly and was uninterested in all the new stuff; liked some of the '50s and '60s Topps series; but got really transfixed at a table with stacks of booklets of all these little cards. The man who owned it all had a long white beard, auburn t-shirt, and suspenders on. He knew I had no idea what I was looking at. My brother and all of our friends were running around buying packs and trying to get deals, and there I stood, getting myself an education in tobacco and candy cards.
In the end, I gave the gentleman my entire twenty dollars and he gave me five T206 cards and a T213-2, all beaters, plus one E90 card, and a strip card, baseball. They were all baseball then. That was 1985. From that day onward I have been a pre-WW1 collector. But only non-sports in the last ten/fifteen years. Alas, I wish I'd gotten into that before all the speculators, etc.
"As for dwindling supply, again I speak from not attending today's conventions and card shows, auction houses and EBay offer very few specimens of some previously popular sets. I mentioned a few such as "Crusader Rabbit", but a spot check on EBay today yielded some surprising results...
-> "Rocketship X-M", a modern set from 1979...just six (6) full sets being auctioned"
Rocketship X-M is/was a popular set? I've never even heard of it?
Business was fairly brisk here in NYC at the Phil Sueling convention where Mark Macaluso and many of the other older dealers sold their stuff, but the set was most popular at the "Star Trek" conventions from that era where pretty much anything sci-fi was well received.
My recollection goes back a bit, I am afraid...did not realize that the set has lost it's "steam" over the years.
One more set of thoughts on why non-sports is not "dead" as a hobby, and this is personal opinion and not necessarily fact.
-> A specific player card can go DOWN In value in case the player engages in criminal behavior, conduct unbecoming of a player, violates the league/team "morals" clause, or some other form of offense...such does not happen with non-sports cards.
-> Sports is out-of-control expensive. The average collector can, at best, hope to put together an average set mostly PSA 7-8 albeit with a few 9's and higher whereas only well-heeled players have a chance at getting mostly 9's and 10's especially for the more vintage pre-1975 sets....in non-sports except for a few sets, everyone has a chance
-> Further, there are several individual sports cards that even ungraded cost well into 6 and 7 digits putting completing a set beyond the reach of anyone but a very wealthy collector...non-sports has but a FEW cards that, ungraded, can cost as much as a few thousand, and even then that is pure speculation on the part of the buyer that the card will grade well at PSA
-> Collecting a complete sports card set is a daunting proposition with some sets at 660-720 cards in total. Other that a FEW non-sports sets such as Horrors of War at 288, Indian Gum at 200+, G-Men at 168, Jets Rockets Spacemen at 108 and several modern sets with 132, MOST non-sports sets are 100 or less cards
-> It's dog-eat-dog collecting scarce, rare and popular sports cards with dozens of competitors bidding and, more likely than in non-sports, multiple well-heeled collectors going for those same cards thus making you wait and wait...and wait...to acquire it, if at all. At least in non-sports everyone has a much better chance.
-> Even the lowliest of baseball, football, basketball and hockey card set has several collectors fighting for completion...there are some non-sports sets where you have at BEST one single person bidding against you, if even that many
-> There are less people buying high grade cards as INVESTMENTS in non-sports than there are with "blue chip" sports cards, in my opinion, and as you know, once an investor makes a purchase they have no passion about the card itself as their sole concern is the resale a year or a few years down the line, or maybe even a decade or more. This happens in non-sports, sure, but likely it is not as prevalent.
Just opinions. I believe that collecting non-sports may be viewed as a more appealing and satisfying collecting opportunity due to the sheer variety. After all...most sports cards after awhile tend to look pretty much the same as there are only so many ways to feature players at bat, on the field, etc. One look at the classic 55-card "Mars Attacks" set and that's all she wrote in terms of which genre has more variety in a typical set. Again, just an opinion.
I used to collect Topps baseball cards (1973 and 1974 sets)...no doubt, I liked the cards, the fact that each team had a different color for the team banner, seeing my home team players, the various "checklists" and "team cards", "rookie cards". But after awhile, it's just one player after another in a limited number of poses. And unlike a "Mars Attacks" set where you can really appreciate the art and story about every single card, I have to imagine that in a 660-720 card sports set the same cannot be said about every single card. With that kind of volume it's hard to view every card as special or even unique.
This is why I feel that non-sports will never "die". It simply has too much to offer.
Funny, I love that 1974 Topps baseball set for the same reason. The design just looked great and there was an abundance of those cards at my local farmer's market outside Philadelphia in the eighties.
Overall, though, I think you're right here. There's more bang for your buck with non-sports. The variety is also greater, subject-wise. That being said, I don't sense that all areas of non-sports are equal, market-wise. If I had to guess, I'd say there are no more than 50 of us who seriously collect pre-WW1 cards, maybe less. (Maybe more?) As such, the prices are pretty predictable and I haven't seen huge spikes or dips in their values. Of course everything in Bob Forbes' book, price-wise, is now outdated; though for the most part they've all gone up together, and incrementally at that. Only a few cards have seemingly become rarer -- T35, T60 -- and have well-surpassed their value in said tome.
It's funny ... I just got INTO nonsports BECAUSE I thought it was dead. I was almost solely a baseball card collector. But frankly the PSA 10 craze drove me away from sports cards. A 1973 Joe Greene FB rookie in PSA 10 - $73,000. Are you CRAZY? You can get a PSA 9 for a tenth of that. A PSA 8 for a tenth of that. And let's face it - 99% of the population can't tell the difference between a PSA 7 and a PSA 10 (without the number). I just don't get why anyone outside of a card dealer would ever buy a 10 when you can buy a nice 7 for 1/100th of the price. Heck, the number of PSA 10s that are faded due to showing since they were graded and that would no longer get 10s is staggering. So why would you even take the chance?
I didn't see the same amount of absurdity of collecting PSA 10s in nonsports. Yes, the posts above show that there are high end folks that shell out big money for certain sets - but that seems a bit like an exception (Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek) rather than a rule. It seemed to me more that folks were looking at nice conditioned PSA 4-6 sets and in very reasonable prices. Maybe that's changed - as my collecting interests again have shifted to the more esoteric stuff - but the market being "dead" is what attracted me to leave sports and come to nonsports.
And as was said above - one look at the Jets, Rockets and Space cards - and a new collector is hooked.
And as far as investment ... let's face facts ... baseball is dying sport in America. It will never be as important as it once was. Football's in trouble because of concussions. Basketball doesn't have much in the way of old or rare ...all of this seems to bode a good future for nonsports (or a decline in all card collecting).
This message has been edited by smpep on Jan 2, 2017 3:48 PM