The cards you collected as kids are soaring in value.
Since the pandemic drove people into their homes, people have been cleaning out their closets and collecting memories and memorabilia.
Keep the memories, but dust off that memorabilia. It may be worth a mint.
Two weeks ago, I went to a Target store to buy my nephew a box of the 2021 Topps Baseball cards set. I could not get any.
It seems baseball card sets are now only sold on Friday mornings, one set maximum to a person. You get them by lining up outside Target the night before.
Once acquired, the lucky purchasers can double their purchase price on eBay in 24 hours. It is stunning. Prices for premium cards and unique collectibles are skyrocketing in online auctions.
Of course, many prices are inflated, but I would hardly call it a bubble. Card collecting has long been a part of American culture. Wall Street is now in on the venture.
Hedge funds and LLCs are investing millions strategically into certain players’ rookie cards and sets, but damn, they ought to be careful. I saw this happen once before, in the 1980s.
When NY Mets stars Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden went to jail instead of the Hall of Fame, their once priceless rookie cards became worthless.
Nothing is for certain.
Selling the old cards that you may have stored in your closet is not as easy as you think. Before anyone is going to make you an offer on your Mickey Mantle or Cal Ripken, they are going to want to see if it has been graded by professional appraisers.
The cards have to be “mint,” crisp, perfectly centered, and untarnished to get the best price.
Bubble gum stains are not acceptable. Remember, these cards were mass-produced and printed on huge printing presses. It’s not like a jeweler sat over them setting a stone.
Cards were churned out by the millions, quickly boxed, stacked, and shipped out across the country. Only a limited amount came out perfectly cut and centered.
When sold, the boxes of cards were opened and mishandled. Corners were dinged, bent, and bruised. No one thought they had cardboard gold in their hands.
The chances are the shoeboxes you have stored away in an attic for 25 years did not leave your cards in a pristine condition. Even people trying to save cards carefully could damage them while placing them into plastic sleeves.
AN AMERICAN INDUSTRY
Thirty-five years ago, in a lifetime far away, I owned a baseball card store, Baseball Heaven, in the Gateway Shopping Center in Fort Lauderdale. It was just about when the sports card hobby was taking off, and a Michael Jordan rookie card from the 1986 set was selling for $750.
The card industry peaked then, but today it is back, insane and off the charts. This month, Heritage Auctions sold one of those Jordan Fleer rookies I had in my store for $50,000 in an online auction.
But don’t jump the gun.
The cards are only worth a premium price if they are graded and rated as the best of the best by companies such as Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA). They have to be gems in mint condition to receive the highest rating.
This year, one of those cards, a 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps Baseball card was sold online by an auction for 4.2 million dollars. That’s not just a hobby anymore, folks. It’s American industry.
This 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps Baseball card, in mint condition, sold for millions of dollars at an auction this year. To have your cards rated and graded by Norm, please make an appointment to see him in his office at 954-763-2900.
Rookie cards are always the best to keep when you are collecting sports cards. Today, though, the newer Gen Xer cards are sparking tremendous enthusiasm and higher prices in the present marketplace.
Old Cabbage Patch Kids card sets, for example, are drawing new-found investor interest as premium older cards become harder and harder to round up.
Here then, is an alert. If you don’t have any Mickey Mantles in your closet, see if your kid has some Pokémon in his.
Don’t ask me who Yu-Gi-Oh was, but his 2002 Dark Magician card is trading on eBay today at over $40,000.
Just one year ago you could go online and buy a complete set of 1982 Fleer Baseball cards for $100 on eBay. That set today won’t go for less than $250. As an investor, don’t think today. Think 10 years from now.
BACK INTO THE BIZ
The card grading company I just talked about, PSA, had 420 employees in March of 2020, right at the start of the pandemic. Today, a year later, they are up to 783.
The present demand for their services is so great right now they had to suspend all new card reviews in order to catch up on millions of backorders. They simply could not keep up the pace. It was taking up to six months to get your collectibles graded.
Card industry veterans like myself have gotten dusted off and are being brought back into the fold to respond to industry demands.
Individuals with skill sets like mine, knowledgeable in grading and evaluating cards are in short supply and high demand. I have begun doing some card evaluations from my Wilton Manors law office in the afternoons.
I am someone who has testified as an expert witness in circuit court on the authenticity of sports autographs and appraisal of baseball card collections. Right now, the grading card companies can’t find enough of us. There is even a university in New York giving a course on how to do it.
For the kind of money old cards are going for, there are always going to be crooks and con artists trying to pass off altered and fake cards. Collectors and investors have to be ever so cautious. There is a scam and sucker born every minute.
PSA and the other reputable grading companies charge reasonable fees for their assessments to begin with. Still, you don’t want to pay someone thousands of dollars to tell you your collection is worthless.
The industry is now using professionals like myself to tell you whether it is even worth paying to get your card graded. We don’t grade the cards themselves.
Let me know before you clean out your closet and drop your old cards at a consignment shop or in a dumpster.
You may have a treasure trove of cash up there and not know it, unless the mold and mice got to it. Most importantly, now is the time to find out.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE
If you want to make an investment in collecting, here is my advice. Go to Target and find a popular toy, card or collectible on a shelf, one that has caught the fascination of America today, and seems to have legs and luster. Buy it.
Then take that sucker, and stash it away, sealed in plastic, in a safe, dry, place.
Come back in 25 years. Let me know then what is worth.