Sunday, August 31, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

How NOT to Share Your Hobby with Your 2 1/2-Year Old Daughter

"OK honey, now first, sort them by sport, then by brand, and finally put them in numerical order and then you can have some ice cream."

Jim Thome: Fan of the Game

It's really nice to see a guy truely appreciate the game. From first hand experience Thome is a very down to earth and humble guy. While Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, and Palmiero tarnished the sacred, 500 Home Run mark forever, it's nice to know that guys like Thome and Griffey Jr. played the game straight-up.

This is a great article about the donation of his 500th HR ball to Cooperstown.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Graded Card Conspiracy

First let me say to some of the detractors of the recent post by Gellman at Sportscards Uncensored, that part of the idea of a blog is to be able to brainstorm, craft ideas, and start dialogue. We aren't writing a college thesis and while many collectors respect the work being done by Gellman and others, I think it is unfair to, over-critique particulars when the idea as whole is what is trying to be conveyed.

That said, even the likes of Beckett must have known they had created a conflict of interest when they decided to discontinue graded card pricing from their monthly publication and instead switched to a 6x per year publication called Beckett Graded Card Investor and Price Guide. I wonder why? Could it be that even their most die-hard and brain washed readers had begun to suspect something was fishy? Or was it just another revenue stream? Probably a little of both.

The collecting world has long realized that the best company for the grading of vintage cards (and for the purpose of this post, are all cards pre-1981) is PSA/DNA. SGC and GAI are also highly regarded grading companies utilized for both modern and vintage cards and I would be remiss in not mentioning them as well. A quick look at one of the last issues of Beckett to contain graded card pricing, shows some glaring inaccuracies, misnomers and down right deception. Could that be why that all cards prior to the referenced time period simply provide the grade and not the company? I'd bet on it. Their "research" had obviously found that PSA, SGC and GAI cards of vintage stock were "worth more" than their graded cards, so why then would they possibly list those, as the cards being priced. Nothing like free press to your competition, right?

I will give Beckett credit where credit is due though, as many of the cards listed by both companies as Gem, consistently show PSA cards with a higher value.
However, let's look at some examples of key cards from the '80's and THE RC of the last 10 years.

Cal Ripken '82 Topps Traded Mint
BGS 9 $300
PSA 9 $250

Barry Bonds '86 Topps Traded
BGS Gem $200
GAI Gem $120

Barry Bonds '86 Fleer Update
BGS Gem $250
PSA Gem $250
Other (GAI, SGC) $30

Ken Griffey Jr. '89 Upper Deck
BGS Pristine (10) $1,200 (their 10 is called Pristine while PSA's is called Gem)
PSA Gem (10) $300

Albert Pujols '01 Bowman Chrome
BGS 9 $5,000
PSA 9 $4,200

Are you beginning to see my point? When they couldn't compete (vintage) they just list the condition, when they couldn't hide it, they tell the truth, and when in doubt, they choose to tell the collector that, any card, graded by any company, has the same value, or in the worst case, they just plain just lie. (See '89 UD Griffey and '01 Bowman Pujols)

Come on!! They make money grading cards. A LOT OF MONEY!! What else are they going to say?

So during the early winter of 07-08 they switch formats. However, much of the same equation still exists, simply in a different layout. Again, giving credit where it is due, they do include real historical data from eBay sales. Great! Good start, but there's a problem. A random sampling finds this "real-world" data only convolutes and confuses the situation even further. Case in point, according to one issue of the Graded Card Investor & Price Guide, a 1987 Donruss RC of Greg Maddux in a 10 (Gem/Pristine) condition is worth $80. The listing for that year goes on to show historical sales of that same card on eBay 17 times, from 2003-2007, ALL graded by BGS with a range of $215 to $920.

Ok wait, are we supposed to believe that not one '87 Donruss RC of Greg Maddux, graded by anyone other than BGS was sold in FOUR YEARS!! Also, if they list the price at $80, don't the eBay examples they site seem to be in congruent with that value? Going back to our original examples from the old format, apparently there were no sales of non-BGS graded cards for '86 Topps Traded or Fleer Update Bonds either. Oh and the '01 Bowman Chrome . . . don't get me started, this post is long enough, I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

We'll have to save the BCCG scam for another day as well.



Are You Ready for Some Football!!


2008 Upper Deck Football is . . . . . . .
a great success.

Bowman Chrome Baseball is Beyond Confusing

Remember when Bowman touted itself proudly as: "The Home of the Rookie Card"?

Not anymore.

Read my complete review here.




Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wanna' Know the Truth About Autograph "Authentication"

As reported by Fox News and posted by one of my favorite blogs Sports Card Info, this video provides a truly disturbing look at one aspect of the Hobby. Nice Job

http://sportscardinfo.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/very-disturbing-video/

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Real Value vs Book Value- The Continuing Saga

(With your best cheesy game show host voice) Welcome friends it's time to play What's It Really Worth?, (applause, applause) where we dispel the mythology of Real Value vs. Book Value.

Now, let's introduce our contestants and, say it with me folks, will the real card’s value please stand up?!?

Item: 2007 UD Premier Nolan Ryan Remnants Quad #'ed/34
Date sold: August 22th
Book Value: $67.50 (includes 1.25 multiplier)
Real Value: $21.60 (My sale)
eBay Avg: $21.33

Item: 2007 UD Sweet Spot Classic Signatures Carl Yastrzemski Auto #'ed/124
Date Sold: August 24th
Book Value: $50.00
Real Value: $55.44 (Hey, we have a winner)
eBay Avg: $55.44 (one unsold, listed at $59.95)

Item: UD Sweet Spot Classic Rogers Hornsby Game Used
Date Sold: August 25th
Book Value: $25.00
Real Value: $16.50 (My Sale)
eBay Avg: $17.17

Well there you have it. Join us next time for, What's it Really Worth?

T.J Scwartz is NOT On My Side

It pains me to have to admit it, but in order for me to know what the Hobby nemesis' are up to, I am forced to, occasionally, spend my hard earned dollars on both infamous Hobby rags which I won't dignify by naming. You already know who they are anyway. So before you call me a hypocrite understand that it is one of the only ways to monitor the bad guys. As evidenced in this month's issue.

In a recent article by long-time dealer, turned regular contributor to the column, On Your Side, Schwartz discusses the topic of autographs and their subsequent value increase upon a person's passing. In his opening paragraph, he states, "I have been dealing and collecting autographs for more than 25 years . . . . .While many (of you) will view the following as unfortunate in the long run (as I do), the grim reality is that one of the factors associated with your collectibles increasing in value is when people pass away or become incapacitated."

OK, Mr. Compassion. Are we really supposed to believe that someone who self admittedly made their living in the sports collectibles field, including the sale of autographs, is the least bit upset when someone, they didn't even know, but whose autographs are part of their inventory, passes away. Hardly, it's more like . . . . . . $KA-CHING$. If not, then who is flooding the market with autographs from the likes of Darryl Kyle, Bobby Murcer, George Carlin, Charlton Heston, Jim McKay and Johnny Podres, to name a few, when they die? We all get it. It's simply a matter of supply and demand, buy low - sell high and in some cases just plain greed.

I do not beget anyone from making a living in the collectibles and memorabilia market if done honestly (no counterfeits, forgeries, pack searching, tampering, etc) but don't for the minute begin to tell me you hesitatingly feel bad at the same time. That's plain B*^% S*&^!!

You think I'm being too harsh? Let's hear from the man himself. In his last paragraph he writes, "The bottom line is that as an avid collector (he leaves out dealer- my words) when someone famous dies, sadly many of us say to ourselves, "What do I have signed of that person?" first, and "Too bad" second. I suppose it depends on whether one has a personal connection with the person or is merely an investor but I find myself caring more than I thought I might many years ago. . . . Either way, it is too bad when someone passes but also not too bad when something you have goes up in value. It's a slippery slope but so goes the Hobby."

Don't pretend for a second to care Schwartz, it's that kind of phoniness that makes you clearly NOT on my side, the collector side.

Collecting vs. Accumulating

Alright, I’ll admit it. Over the past several years I have been an “accumulator”. Sure, like most closet accumulators I thought I was a die-hard collector. However, a not too distant life changing event caused me to see myself for what I really had become. That life changing event was ….moving.

Like most collectors I have a special room in my home designated for my cards, collectibles and memorabilia. Anyone who has ever gone through the laborious process of dismantling ones collection, carefully packing it, unpacking it and reassembling ones sports shrines, is well aware of the challenges involved in this task.

Over the years I have “collected” virtually everything and anything. What I recently realized was I could care less about 70% of what was in my “collection”. Many of you may feel the same way whether you have realized it yet or not. I’m here to tell you it’s OK. Accumulating is a natural part of any collector’s genetic make-up. However, at some point, when you have maxed out your sports room, the crawl space, spare closet, attic, and shed and find yourself trying to convince your wife or roommate that the uncut sheet of 1985 Donruss cards you found at a garage sale in 1987 is actually art and would look great framed and hanging in your family room, you’ll soon realize that you too have become an accumulator.

Many of you might be nodding your heads in agreement or shaking your heads in denial. Like I said, it’s OK, you’ll deal with this issue when you’re ready. So anyway, what to do? Well, I sat down and wrote a list titled “What I Collect”. By putting pen to paper and doing some serious thinking about what I really like and want to keep or would hate to lose, I was able to streamline my collecting pursuits with a more narrow focus and not such a willy-nilly I want it all attitude.

Upon completion of my list I realized I had an ample amount of material to sell on eBay to further fund my actual collection. As it turned out my accumulation of stuff has actually started to pay off. All too often we as collectors and sports fanatics want it all. I encourage you to sit down and figure out what it is you really like. The benefits are tremendous and include being less overwhelmed with the need to get each new product that comes out, frees up much needed display and storage space, and increases capital available in your budget to pursue your true hobby desires. The sense of liberation and freedom that comes with a clearly defined collection is fantastic!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Allen & Ginter Blaster Highlights

I love it when my wife asks we to go to the store. This time it was for diapers. With a 31/2 month old, you go through a lot of diapers. I usually take the liberty of buying a couple packs of something, anything just to get my "fix", but I couldn't resist the Allen & Ginter blaster. This is just the highlights and some commentary on the product as a whole. Enjoy!
video

Poll Comments

I fogot to post this spot when I listed the new poll. So for those who have already voted, and those that will vote;

What is your end all be all, gotta have it, would die for piece of cardboard nostalgia?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Musings of How to Improve the Hobby - A Top 10 List

Originally written by myself for http://www.cardcornerclub.net/

This is not going to be a rehashing of the same tired issues that seem so prevalent on Hobby blogs and message boards today. (Don't get me wrong though, the beefs are legitimate.) Instead, I offer constructive criticism and innovative ideas to add value, substance, style and merit to this hobby we love so much. In some cases, these comments will be geared to particular products, and others more generic in nature.

10. Topps Moments and Milestones- This product, if it were to have continued, was crying out for a complete overhaul. For starters, reduce the number of parallels drastically in this and all products; they are becoming beyond gimmicky and losing their secondary market value year after year. Second, eliminate the vast majority of rookies from the autograph checklist. They are rookies, so for the most part, how could they have possibly had a truly memorable moment or milestone at this point in their career? Third, return relic cards to the product however, to add to the theme and title of the product, shouldn’t those game-used pieces be taken from jerseys actually worn during said moment or milestone game? (For more on this concept over-all see #2)

9. When Hollywood and celebrity insert cards are utilized within a product, those inserts should be value added and not replace memorabilia and/or autographs of players from the sport the brand is intended for. In addition, it is not enough to simply produce a generic card with a swatch of celebrity material, WITH NO PICTURE OF THE CELEBRIY. (See this years’ Piece of Hollywood insert set debuting in Piece of History by Upper Deck.)

8. What happened to retired only player products? When the MLBPA changed the licensing agreement a few years ago it specified a reduction not only in the number of total products but also put a cap on the number of retired only player brands that could be produced which wasn’t zero. So what gives? SP Legendary Cuts has become a shadow of its former self. Yes the licensing deal with CMG, which handles licensing of many retired Hall of Famers, hurt Upper Deck’s ability to produce a set like they have with this brand in the past, but what is with the inclusion of active, modern players? That’s just wrong and a travesty to the legacy of this once great brand.

7. Not every product needs a historical, celebrity or political insert set. This is not going to drive sales. It might create cheap PR in mainstream circles but few people, if any, are going to enter the market simply because of the inclusion of these types of inserts. Less is more.

6. Penalize dealers and hobby shops that sell manufacturer supplied incentive material on eBay. The purpose of these programs isn’t to throw the retailer a freebie to make a couple hundred bucks but to drive traffic to their store. The hobby had been clamoring for years for the card companies to help them in that regard and now some have taken advantage of that goodwill and should be punished accordingly.

5. I may not have the answer but something needs to be done about the over abundance and therefore devaluing of retired player autographs. Every time Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Cal Ripken and others appear for an autograph session and signing fee, the value of those signatures goes down. It’s simple Econ: 101, the law of supply vs. demand. Can someone pay these guys a yearly fee to NOT sign PLEASE? (See Bob Feller)

4. Something has to give. Either the Rookie Card Logo or brands like Bowman, Bowman Chrome, and Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects. To have these two contradictory entities in existence doesn’t do anything to clarify the confusion of the rookie card issue that “the logo” attempted to address a few years ago. The MLPBA needs to pick a lane and stay there because as long as those brands still exist, collectors are going to acknowledge a player’s “true RC” as having come from one of the aforementioned brands. Why? See Albert Pujols 2001 Bowman Chrome RC.

3. Bring back a multi-sport product. Five years ago, Upper Deck took on a very daunting task by aligning all four major sports’ licensing bodies as well as golf and NASCAR into a single product called SuperStars. The majority of the collecting public did not receive this brand very well. I however, was not in that group. I am a sports fan and a collector. In truth, the number of exclusive sports fans probably outnumbers those that are also collectors by what 10 to 1? I think this product was simply marketed wrong. Utilizing channels of distribution outside the hobby and the big box retailer’s trading card aisle, this type of product if marketed correctly, could appeal to the sports fan and serve as a “cross-over” product that might turn the fan into a collector. Some of the inserts in 2003 such as “Keys to the City” had only limited appeal and a short shelf life due to factors such as trades and free agency. However, what if this product was produced yearly and sold by sport exclusive pack, city specific set, and traditional hobby boxes? It’s very easy to see packs containing stars from the Atlanta Hawks, Falcons, Braves and Thrashers hanging in the checkout line as an impulse item at area stores in Georgia. The regional distribution would also add to the collectability of the product as secondary market values outside those geographic specific areas, housing out of state fans would most likely, be willing to pay a premium.

2. While this is a topic discussed and commented on with regularity, I have read very little in the way of a solution. The over abundance of memorabilia and relic cards. I am not one of those collectors who hates jersey or bat cards. I still like them but it’s time for a change. Small, single color swatches should be relegated to entry level products only. The new standard for jersey cards in mid-level products should be larger 2-3 color swatches and jumbo 4+ color patches in premium products. Not even player collectors want yet another grey road jersey swatch. I also want specifics on where the jersey came from, i.e. “The jersey material on the front of this card was obtained from a game-used jersey worn by John Doe during the 2007 season.” Or even better would be, “The jersey material on the front of this card was obtained from a game-used jersey worn by John Doe during a game against the Cardinals on June 16th 2006. John Doe went 2 for 4 with a run scored and a stolen base.” Talk about bringing you closer to the game!! In addition, increase the use of the seldom utilized batting helmet, fielding glove, batting gloves, and ball cap. Use the same guidelines as above to provide provenance to the relic card. Come on guys add some validity and creativity to the memorabilia card, PLEASE.

1. Stop utilizing the same picture in multiple products. This is a must! If this isn’t a sign of sheer laziness and disregard for what the card companies are producing I don’t know what is.

So there you have it, 10+ viable things that manufacturers can do to bring back some of the luster, thrill, collectability and value to our hobby. Will they listen?? We’ll see.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Things That Irk Me and Other Ramblings

I love our hobby (my wife would say too much) and I get great satisfaction from building my player and RC collections, working on my Topps set run from 1970 to the present, and writing for this blog and www.cardcornerclub.net but there are also things that really irk me. The following is a work in progress rundown. Feel free to comment on these subjects or add to this list.

Cut signatures of living players - Doesn’t that lessen the significance of a “cut signature”? Since the only means for card companies to obtain autographs of deceased players is via the cut, why utilize them for players, retired or active, that are still living, breathing, and able to write their own names. Cheap and lazy come to mind.

Overvalued and/or Undervalued cards - The egomaniacal personalities and editorial staff at both price guide publications continually misvalue cards by attempting to determine secondary market value within weeks of a products release, instead of allowing time and the natural laws of supply and demand to kick in. We have all seen the ridiculousness of this fruitless exercise. Jimmie Foxx bat cards for $40, Joe DiMaggio jersey cards for $60. Now while this thought might seem to go against the grain of my well posted thoughts regarding a cards' "Real" vs "Book" value, bear with me a minute. In a world where there is a finite supply of this material aren’t we forgetting that in 10-20 years these cards may no longer be produced in the quantities they are now? Are we also assuming then, that in that same time period, no new collectors will enter the marketplace desiring this once plentiful material? It really makes you shake your head.

The World Baseball Classic Craze - Don’t get me started. What a way for the manufactures to cop out of producing memorabilia cards of every day household names to instead clutter the checklist with players from Cuba who will more than likely never see a MLB field except from TV.

Upper Deck not printing their insert odds on packaging - Peculiar isn’t it? Now that there are only 2 MLBPA licensed companies competing for your hobby dollar, one of my concerns was that the manufactures would get stingy with their inserts because the leader of the pack in that regard, (Donruss-Playoff), is no longer producing MLB licensed baseball cards. By choosing to eliminate this criteria from their packaging it really looks like they are trying to hide something, whether they are or not.

The NHL excluding ITG from the licensing of active hockey cards - What a coup for Upper Deck, no competition. What is this the former Soviet Union? In The Game has proven that they know what they are doing and continue to produce great products despite the NHL and the NHLPA. However, it is a shame that collectors are the ones forced to purchase from only one manufacturer when it comes to current player products.

People who trade exclusively based on book value - (See previous post.)

Dealers and ebay sellers who attempt to cash in on celebrity or player deaths - Enough said.

McFarlane distribution practices - It is really time for McFarlane to grasp and utilize the concept of regional marketing. Former case in point. The release of NFL Legends with the Walter Payton figure were next to impossible to locate here in the Chicago area, the region with the most demand, obviously. By producing player specific cases and shipping those to regional markets, more collectors will be able to get their hands on them with out having to utilize ebay. They would be able to acquire them by, hey here’s a novel idea, visiting their area card shop. Secondary market values wouldn’t plummet which I’m sure is the fear at the McFarlane boardroom because local and national icons like Sweetness are ALWAYS in demand.

Upper Deck wasting the number of products it can produce with throw away products like Fleer Ultra, Opening Day etc. Upper Deck has a very talented and creative brand management team. Let them create instead of copying the same old crap. There are reasons why Fleer went belly up and boring and redundant brands was one of them.

The MLB and MLBPA allowing only 2 retired player exclusive products per manufacturer - The overwhelming popularity of Fleer Greats and SP Legendary Cuts should be a clear message that certain segments of the collecting community only want to collect retired player products. With all the angst with regards to the statistics put up in the last ten years and the questions surrounding the use of performance enhancing drugs, let the card companies determine who their target markets are and not limit these type of products.

The New RC Logo - This was a barely decent idea in theory and even worse in execution as it will take several years for the self created confusion of putting RC logo’s on cards of players who have had previous cards released, i.e. Josh Hamilton to be sorted out, and have the effect originally intended. However, for the short-term, it is only serving to frustrate the very segment of the collecting base that this change was made for, new and returning collectors.

PSA and other autograph authenticators - Any person has a multitude of ways they sign their name. I feel sorry for people who have made the decision to sell an autographed piece of memorabilia that they have witnessed get signed by a particular athlete, in person -- only to have it rejected by the so called experts. While the service these companies provide is valuable for keeping counterfeits out of the market, something needs to be done to not leave 'in-person' autograph collectors out in the cold when it comes time to sell their cherished pieces.

UltraPro- Invariably there are products for archival, display and storage, I would use if I could find them. Not many card shops or online services sell all the niche display and storage pieces I sometimes require. At one point in time I could go to their website and purchase directly from them. This has now apparently changed and instead has been replaced by a dealer locator by state. Thanks for nothing.

Well, that’s enough for now, I’m sure I forgot a couple things or will think of new ones.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beware: The "Book Value" Trader

Book Value. We all know what it means. Or at least what it is supposed to mean in theory. However, with the explosive popularity of eBay, Naxcom and other auction sites in the last 10 years, Book Value is a term that needs to be banished forever from collectors’ vernacular once and for all. I can hear it now, “But wait, that would mean the potential demise of Beckett.” Fear not readers, Beckett has come up with yet another way to sucker you out of your hobby dollars; they now grade “thick insert cards”. But I digress.

Last weekend I took advantage of being a temporary bachelor (my wife and daughters were out of town) to visit one of my local hobby shops. Every Saturday a dozen hardcore collectors gather to show off their recent pulls, purchase new product and trade. Ah, the trading of trading cards. What a nostalgic concept. What prompted my ire for the topic of this article started here at my hobby shop’s weekly Trade Day. The process is supposed to be very simple. Collectors bring cards they are willing to trade and then you simply ask if you can see them. If something captures your eye you ask the collector to look at what you’ve brought. And here is where the problem started. One person I spoke with after selecting a couple of his cards proceeded to tell me what the Book Value (further referred to in this article simply as BV) was of each card I selected.

The subsequent conversation went something like this:

I looked at him and responded, “So…what does that mean.”

He looked at me like I had just attempted to proposition his mother. With a tone of utter arrogance he replied, “ Uh…it means they are each worth $50.”

I calmly corrected him. “No, that is what a sampling of store owners have received for that card as reported by Beckett. Book Value really only applies to what a person selling this exact card at retail might get for it.”

“Yeah… well.. if your interested in either card it “books” for $50. (Meaning that in order to affect a trade I would need to have something he wanted that also “books” for $50.)

Excuse me, am I missing something here. I thought the point of trading was to get rid of what you didn’t want for something of equal or comparable value IN THE EYES OF THE COLLECTORS INVOLVED IN THE TRADE!!

As with beauty, value is in the eyes of the beholder. It was obvious I was dealing with someone who once upon a time traded his Ryan Sandberg RC for a Howard Johnson RC and still hasn’t gotten over the fact of that erroneous decision 25 years later.

Let’s review. A Collectibles 101 if you will.

1. Something is only worth what somebody is willing to pay for it.

2. People who use the term BV should be limited to retailers, dealers and wholesalers.

3. The most accurate reflection of what a card is worth, collector-to-collector is recently closed auctions of the same or similar item on eBay.

OK. So that was trade attempt #1, now for #2.

In the course of busting packs of Topps Chrome Baseball in a friendly Pack Wars competition, I pull a Hanley Ramirez RC Auto. Pretty cool he is having a good year, I thought to myself. Shortly after my Pack War victory, someone approached me about possibly trading for the Hanley RC Auto. Honestly, I could care less about this card but the guy seemed like he really wanted it. I looked at what he had and having learned “my lesson” from the first trade attempt, I selected 1 star regular card, 1 parallel cards, 1 un-numbered insert and 1 Josh Beckett GU jersey from him Florida days.

Pushing it just a little bit, I know, but I figured I’d see how much he really wanted it (my card). He then proceeded to tell me, “Those cards “book” for like $60 and I can get a Hanley Ramirez for like $5.00."

I thought, wait a minute your valuing your stuff based on book but my stuff based on what you can “get it for”. There’s a flaw to your thinking my Beckett brainwashed collecting brethren.

“Where can you get it for $5.00?”

“eBay.”

“Well I know I can get each of those inserts for a buck on eBay and that jersey card for $3.00-$5.00. The cards I picked aren’t going up in value, where the RC Auto only time will tell.”

“Yeah but the difference in BV isn’t close.”

“Dude, I thought we already established what the cards are really worth. You know forget it.”

Unbelievable was my only thought as I was walking to my car, that and what a couple of idiots. That’s when it hit me. They weren’t idiots or brainwashed, they were Beckett Book Value Geeks. I hope this term quickly enters our hobby’s vocabulary, as you will want to learn how to identify them quickly and stay far, far away.

What Donruss Americana Could Be

If the tremendous volume of cards and the prices realized on the secondary market are any indication of its success, all signs point to the fact that Donruss Americana, to date, is a HUGE success. Regardless of how you feel about the existence of a 'pop-culture' trading card set, swift sales of all 3 releases prove there is a legitimate demand for this product.

However, a product like this cries out for commentary because the inclusion or absence of particular personalities creates the opportunity for endless debate. This product has yet to hit a "Grand Slam" in my opinion because some of the names on the checklist have definetly been B or even C level celebrities at best. Below is list of cards and new subsets I’d like to see included in this brand along with a sampling of some of the various memorabilia and autograph combinations that, in my opinion, would make Donruss Americana 2009 an even bigger success.

TV Icons
Bob Barker- Tie Swatch
Alex Trebec
Bill Cosby- Cosby Show worn Sweater Swatch
Oprah
Linda Carter- Stars or Stripe Swatch from her Wonder Woman costume
Lindsey Wagner
Michael Landon
Alan Alda- Mash worn Surgical Scrubs Swatch
David Hasselhoff- Dual auto with Pam
Pamela Anderson – Baywatch worn Bathing Suit
Jerry Seinfeld- Seinfeld worn “Puffy Shirt” and Gym Shoe Swatches
Keifer Sutherland
Chevy Chase
Gilda Radner
Sam Waterson Law & Order Scene worn Suit Swatch
Joan Collins
Linda Evans- Dual auto w/ Collins
Joan Rivers
David Letterman
Johnny Carson- Cut auto
Aaron Spelling
Julia Louise Dreyfuss- Dual auto w/ Jerry Seinfeld
Gary Coleman- Auto w/ "What are you talking about Willis" notation

Cinema Stars
Roy Scheider (Jaws) Single Auto and Dual w/ Dreyfuss
Richard Dreyfuss
Debra Winger Single and Dual w/ Travolta and Gere
John Travolta
Richard Gere
Harrison Ford- Dual auto w/ Hamilton
Mark Hamill
Jim Belushi- Single and Dual with Akroyd and Triple w/ Murray
Dan Akroyd
Bill Murray
Tom Hanks
Tom Cruise
Sylvester Stallone
Olivia Newton John- Dual auto w/ Travolta
Joe Pesci- Dual auto w/ DeNiro

Cinema Legends
Paul Newman- Dual auto w/ Robert Redford
Raquel Welch
Charlton Heston- Single and Dual w/ Liz Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor
Robert DeNiro- Single and Dual Auto w/ Pacino
Dustin Hoffman
Steven Speilberg
Al Pacino

America the Beautiful-
(Inserts would be picture of SI Swimsuit or Playboy cover- autographed)
Jenny McCarthy
Cindy Crawford
Anna Nicole Smith
Vanessa Williams
Cheryl Tiegs
Kathy Ireland
Naomi Cambell
Stephanie Seymour
Angie Everhart
Tyra Banks
Christie Brinkley

The Rat Pack
Frank Sinatra- Dual cut auto w/ Dean, triple w/ Sammy
Dean Martin
Sammy Davis Jr.
Joey Bishop
Peter Lawford
John F Kennedy- Dual cut auto w/ Sinatra
Marilyn Monroe- Dual cut auto w/ JFK
Shirley MacLaine

Rock & Pop Stars
Pat Benatar
Madonna- Autos and memorabilia from "Vogue" video
Bee Gees- w/ Triple cut autos (no I'm not a fan but they were iconic)
Van Halen- Spandex Pant Swatch from “Jump” video
Valerie Bertinelli Van Halen- Dual auto w/ Eddie
Aerosmith- Concert worn Boa from Steven Tyler
Grateful Dead- Jerry Garcia Cut Signature
Led Zepplin- Cut Signature from Jon Bonham
Eagles- Original Sheet Music Memorabilia
Prince- Concert Played Guitar Memorabilia
Michael Jackson- Sequenced Glove Swatch and autos (imagain the possibilities; dual with Janet, triple with Janet and Latoya, dual with Liz Taylor, Jackson 5 auto)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tales From the National (With Photo Gallery)

This was originally posted by myself on www.cardcornerclub.net

The 29th annual National Sports Collectors Convention wraps up this weekend in Chicago and was highlighted by an impressive line-up of autograph guests featuring Hall of Fame members and superstars from all four major sports. Most notably perhaps was the rumor that this will be Stan Musial’s last public signing appearance. Also signing this weekend were the likes of Lou Brock, Rod Carew, Ryne Sandberg, Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Bobby Hull, Tony Esposito, Gordie Howe, Dennis Rodman, and Mike Ditka too name just a few. In total over 80 athletes signed for collectors, keeping Tri-Star, the organizers of the autograph pavilion, very busy.

The usual suspects made their presence felt in the corporate exhibit area, including a rare tradeshow sighting by Topps who had an eTopps exhibit. They were kind enough to donate slabbed samples of their product to the Card Corner Radio Show during our trivia contest give-away session. The highlight of the corporate pavilion however, occurred on Friday when Donruss hosted a special signing session with Mike Ditka who was signing a specially made color 8x10 of “Da Coach” being hoisted by his players following the Bears triumphant Super Bowl win in 1985. I don’t think anyone in the history of sports has parlayed a single year’s success and championship into the career notoriety that Mike Ditka has with causes, benefits, charitable outings, a line of wine, cigars, and margaritas too name a few of his numerous endeavors.

The always-popular wrapper redemption programs returned for, not only, Donruss and Upper Deck but also Tri-Star, Press Pass, and In the Game. Tri-Star’s emergence as a major player in minor league trading cards has been a welcome addition to the hobby. Recently they have also obtained a license from wrestling juggernaut TNA and debuted their first product with TNA Impact earlier in the month. Wrestling fans and collectors were also treated to in-person autograph sessions and photo opportunities each day at the Tri-Star booth, highlighted by the lovely Karen Angle on Saturday. Upper Deck always makes a nice tradeshow exclusive set for such occasions and this year was no different. Showcasing some of the biggest names and hottest rookies from each sport. A quick look on eBay showed that a lucky collector was looking to cash in on the randomly inserted autograph of Blackhawk’s rookie phenom, Jonathan Toews. Serial numbered to only 5, this card is already up to $51.00 with 6 days left. Wow!!

It’s been said that “if you can’t find it at the National, you don’t need it”, This very well might be true whether you are a vintage collect specializing in 50’s and 60’s graded cards, modern. High-end unopened product, premium game-used and autograph pieces or even vintage game used memorabilia. It’s all at the National. It always amazes me what some of the major auction company’s are displaying and this year was no different. MastroAuctions was busy taking consignments and while I was at the booth someone walked in with a single signed Lou Gehrig baseball. Nice! Brian Marren, the VP of Acquisitions, was kind enough to grant the Card Corner Radio Show an interview and we talked in detail about the pending live auction at the ESPN Zone Friday night. Featuring 96 lots the estimated total for that live auction was about $1.5 MILLION dollars.

Perhaps one of the most jaw-dropping exhibits was at the PSA/DNA booth. They were exhibiting the personal collection of Dimitri Young who posses perhaps the single greatest rookie card collection in existence. Highlights include the likes of Reggie Jackson, Ernie Banks and Roberto Clemente to name a few of the almost 150 cards comprising his collection. However, the thing that makes this collection truly impressive is that every single card has been graded a Gem Mint 10 by PSA. An industry leader in grading and authentication, PSA was taking submissions and conducting on-site grading as well.

Sports collectors love and appreciate beautiful women as almost every red-blooded American male does. This was obvious by the consistent traffic at the Benchwarmer’s booth, which was teasing the public with the pending release of their first premium release called Signature Series. Benchwarmer’s has made a niche for themselves by producing trading cards of beautiful women in bikinis for years. However, Signature Series takes things to a new level with kiss cards, autographs, and lingerie or bikini swatch cards in every pack. Believe me when I say that people weren’t waiting in line for free samples though. The always lovely Mary Riley and other models were signing in-person as part of a redemption program.

Box busters had several vendors too choose from but it is quite obvious that one company in particular has put the now famous Dave & Adam’s Card World, in their sights. Blow Out Cards has emerged on the scene as a major competitor for DACW, which has long hailed themselves for their BPP or Best Prices on the Planet tag line. They might want to copyright that because a careful comparison on a product-by-product basis saw almost even parity between the two companies.

On a personal level, I always enjoy the National and find it very hard to not walk out of there racking up a major credit card bill as I eye all the things I “need” for my personal collection, all the boxes I’d like to bust, and all the cards I need to complete my Topps base set run from 1970 to the present. I’m proud to say though that for the first time in year’s I wasn’t in the proverbial doghouse when I got home. If you have never been to the Disney World of the Hobby, I highly encourage you go at least once. It really is a collector’s dream.

Check out photos from the event right here

Monday, August 18, 2008

Busting Packs- 2007-08 BAP Hockey

Ok, so this was my first go at a video pack/box break.
It was definetly a learning experience and
I promise that I will get better at this.


video

Why Book Value Doesn’t Mean Squat - A sampling of recent secondary market activity (i.e. eBay transactions)

A large portion of the collecting world is slowly beginning to wake up to the fact that “Book Value”, as we have come to know the term, is an antiquated, archaic and unreliable means of pricing modern trading cards. It’s incredible really when you think about it, that entities still exist with an over-inflated sense of ego thinking that in a real-time, on-demand, streaming world-wide era, that there could possibly be a need for 3rd party pricing data on a monthly basis. Not even the recent indignant acknowledgement and response by these entities to the realization of a major technology shift in the capabilities of online price guides, has caused them to utilize real-time data to update their online pricing to anything more frequent then twice a month. Publishing companies as a whole have been very slow to embrace online media and its inherent capabilities (believe me I know, I work for one). However, when your sole contribution to the marketplace and the hobby has historically been to provide pricing data to the collecting public and know that there is a real-time tool available to every collector with just a few clicks on a minute by minute basis if they so choose, what could possibly be the justification for keeping such an entity in existence?

So this month I give you the first of a recurring snapshot of real world trading card values vs. book value mythology. Now, will the real card’s value please stand up?!?

Item: 2001 Fleer Ultra Albert Pujols RC Card #277 #'ed /1499
Date sold: July 25th
Book Value: $80.00
Real Value: $27.99

Item: Edison Volquez 2005 Bowman Draft RC
Date Sold: July 15th
Book Value: $10.00
Real Value: $0.99

Item: 2007 SPx Francisco Liriano Young Star Signature Auto
Date Sold: July 20th
Book Value: $25.00
Real Value: $2.35

Item: 2001 Fleer Platinum Albert Pujols RC
Date Sold: July 25th
Book Value: $40.00
Real Value: $12.50

Midwest Collectors Lose Long Running Show

According to published reports by www.auctionreports.com , the annual summer tradition known as SportsFest has officially been cancelled. Produced for several years by F&W Media, the publisher of Sports Collector’s Digest and Tuff Stuff, SportsFest has provided Chicago with a marquee collectibles event every summer for several years. Company officials stated that after careful analysis following this year’s show the decision was made to fold the event. This announcement has come quickly on the heels of a recent announcement by Chicago area dealer Schwartz Sports and Mounted Memories about a joint venture to produce a new collectibles show in the summer of 2009. So while one show dies another is born. Collectors will have to wait and see what this new endeavor entails; so out with the old and in with the new.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Top Ten List- Part 2

Recapping the top ten events that changed the hobby.

5) The autographed card. First delivered to the market by Upper Deck in 1990, the company randomly inserted 2,500 hard signed and hand numbered autographs of legendary slugger and future Hall of Famer, Reggie Jackson. This groundbreaking achievement paved the way for one-ups-man-ship that continues between card companies today.

4) Game-used memorabilia cards. Love them or hate them, they are here to stay and in fact have proven to be crucial for the success of any modern day trading card product. First introduced to the Hobby by, yet again, Upper Deck, in 1997, the company provided collectors a true "thrill of the chase" by inserting cards of Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, and Rey Ordonez (How can you even put him in the same sentence) containing a piece of his jersey worn in an actual game.

3) The official RC logo. Mandated by the MLB and MLBPA a few years ago to help clarify confusion amongst collectors and lay people alike, pundits have argued that it was also highly influenced in collusion with the trading card companies to eventually recreate the same year debut demand that the industry saw in 2001 with Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki. The only problem is that with Topps continuing to thumb its nose at the "rules" by producing sets containing prospects and non-40 man roster players thus doing nothing to eliminate the confusion that caused the supposed need for the RC designation in the first place.

2) Player exclusive contracts and licensing monopolies. The seemingly run-away trend of manufacturers securing the exclusive production and distribution rights to star players for use in their products has caused, in my mind, a clear violation of anti-trust laws by forcing me and other collectors to buy products from a specific manufacturer that I may not want to simply because they have the rights to a player I collect. In addition, this has greatly watered down product content across multiple brands in all sports. If that doesn't meet the burden of proof necessary to be in violation of anti-trust than this fact certainly does. The blatantly obvious monopoly that Upper Deck holds with the only active player NHL trading card license.

1) The Internet and eBay. Viewed by many in the Hobby as a curse and a blessing, the advent of this technology has had numerous impacts on the Hobby which could be a Top 10 List all on it's own. But why don't we save that for another post.

What do you think?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

As if the Hobby needed another black-eye

While this is slightly old news but I haven't seen much commentary in the blogsphere.

Allegations of “shill-bidding” have been leveled against auction house and industry giant Mastro Auctions of Burr Ridge, Illinois. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations served subpoenas on the company the weekend of the National Sports Collector’s Convention. Check out this article
in the Chicago Tribune.

Many people have long suspected that the champagne and cavier portion of the Hobby have not always been ethical in their business dealings. Whether it's consigning self-authenticated items, i.e Dave Bushing or this latest saga, it seems that as the old saying goes, "where there's smoke, there's fire". While these are only allegations at this point it does serve as a reminder that when big money is involved without any regulatory, 3rd party oversight, there is bound to be trouble.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Top Ten List- Part 1

For better or for worse, the Hobby has witnessed some significant Moments and Milestones (RIP, thank God) throughout its storied history. Many of these events forever changed the Hobby landscape, some of which continue to provide plenty of blog fodder today. Here is my Top 10 List of . . . Events That Changed the Hobby

10) Topps founder, Joseph Shorin, dumping unsold cases of High Number 1952 Topps with the cherished Mickey Mantle RC, into the Atlantic Ocean, inadvertently creating one of the first, and most valuable "short-prints".

9) 1973-the last season that baseball cards were issued in multiple series (present day series 1 and 2 not counting) and the emergence of the Traded Set in 1974 thus opening the door for coveted RC's of Cal Ripken Jr., fallen heroes Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens to name a few.

8) The era of 1984-1994 known by several monikers. Most notably among them are; The Overproduction Era, The Speculative RC Era. The card companies printed cards in vast quantities to meet the overwhelming demand of the era, rendering 99 percent of those cards utterly worthless today. Side bar- If any of you reading this still have cases of this garbage stacked in your garage or storage facility, please do us set collectors a favor and burn them en mass.

7) Upper Deck's entrance into the market in 1989. Promising a revolution in the trading card genre, UD shocked the Hobby with crisp photography, glossy card stock, counterfeit proof hologram, fancy foil packaging and a price point once thought inconceivable.

6) Card grading. The process of having your cards carefully examined by a 3rd party and subjectively being "graded" on a scale from 1 to 10 in several categories to determine an aggregate condition for the card, for a fee. What started as a way to insure consistently defined condition opened the doorway for a plethora of illegitimate companies to cash-in on this process. Today card grading definitely has a place in the market for vintage cards and RC's, however, beyond that it's really just a waste of money.

To be continued

3rd Party Card Pricing

Question: What is my card worth?

Answer: Whatever someone is willing to pay YOU at the exact moment in time you want to sell.

Before ever, and I mean ever, picking up a rag like Beckett to check your card's current "Book Value" (more on this antiquated term later), try searching for your card on eBay under the advanced search listings and select "Completed Listings". You will be instantly provided historical data from the past 60 days showing you an exact range of what your card is worth. For example, as you can see here (or maybe not, sorry for the blurry screen capture) a Joe DiMaggio bat card is worth between $60-$70 bucks. Not the $249 Buy It Now BIN, that some idiot obviously got out of a price guide.

Sorry Beckett, you've become obsolete . . . . . for about 10 years!!

Welcome!!

Tired of having your trades blocked by ill perceived "Book Value"?

Tired of trading card manufacturers overcharging and under-delivering?



Stuck in a rut and feeling like your collection has become stale?

Losing your passion for the Hobby?

Need real information in which to decide how to best spend your hard earned Hobby dollars?

Wonder what your cards are REALLY worth?

Do you have creative innovations or ideas the card companies should know about?

Do you think Felicia "The Rip Girl" autograph cards are a blatant mockery of the Hobby?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then this blog is for you. Straight talk, no punches pulled. Inspired by the sites on my Links section, the time has come to provide a voice for the collector to learn, vent, and revive their passion for collecting. I cannot guarantee daily posts but will make every effort to share my thoughts with you the collector to spurr conversation and intelligent debate on a regular basis.

So to all I say welcome to The Voice of the Collector: -THE Anti-Beckett