Sunday, November 21, 2010

Your Numbered, 1-of-5, Triple Patch, Auto Isn't . . . .

really just one of five. You know that right? See, chances are your card has a parallel version within the product and had a similarly numbered card last year as well. In addition, there was one the year before, and the year before that as well. That same triple patch auto numbered one of five bounty you so covet, adore, and/or want probably has another card just like it in another brand of the same year as well.

The proliferation of autograph cards has come to the point where it parallels the over production of the junk wax era of the late 80's, the game used jersey saturation of the late 90's and early 2000's. The sheer number of autographs being signed by legendary Hall of Famers across all sports is so staggering that every newly released sports trading card product devalues the price of those autographs.

With the rate of frequency that players like Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky, Dan Marino, Gordie Howe and players of their equal, sign autographs, and assuming they all live another 20 years minimum (excluding Gordie Howe but it honestly wouldn't surprise me either) the laws of supply and demand will with have snowballed, rendering their autographs virtually worthless in stature to their athletic accomplishments.

We saw something similar recently happen with Shoeless Joe Jackson game used cards. Once the only bat card in existence of the shamed former White Sox player, the 2001 SP Legendary Cuts card commanded upwards of $500-$600. Fast forward seven years later when Donruss released Sports Legends in 2008 with their very own Shoeless Joe game used card and prices for both cards have yet to return to those values.

In both circumstances, autographs or rare game used cards, their are obviously other forces at play including a lengthy and deep recession. I understand that card companies are in business to make a profit and have no moral obligation or fiduciary responsibility to conduct business in a manner that preserves secondary market value. Unfortunately at the same time, we as collectors have reached a point in The Hobby where, collectively, we have little interest in the cards themselves other than the hits. It's a problem the card companies created and we perpetuated and the only winners are the manufacturers. For the most part, what we collect today will never hold its market value, let alone appreciate.

That goes for autographs of iconic and revered Hall of Famers who continue to sign sticker, after sticker, after sticker flooding an already saturated market. Don't believe me? Take a good, hard, objective look at the trends you see on completed auctions on eBay. Hundreds and hundreds of cards undervalued.

A sad state of The Hobby that will only get worse.

Collect what you like and not what you think will be valuable, because in the end, 90% of what's in your treasured "collection" isn't going to be worth squat.


THE House of Cards said...

Another reason the proliferation of auto cards, albeit a minor one, is greater than ever access to the athletes due to the lucrative nature of that beast and their own financial mismanagement. Some folks don't need the card companies to cheapen the value of their autograph 'cause they pimp themselves at every car dealership grand opening and card show they can show up for. Montana is a prime example of that, as are Jose Canseco, Pete Rose, etc.

Rob- AKA "VOTC" said...

Great examples. And then there is Bob Feller. The running joke being, "Hey, look a baseball and it's NOT signed by Bob Feller."

beardy said...

We're the butt of the joke. Take the Ginter "Invisible Man" auto, and the Era Icons stamps from Chicle. Don't even get me started on manufactured patches...

Cards also sell for ridiculously low prices on COMC. As a seller, some of the offers I get are borderline insulting, but they typically turn out to be right around the eBay "fair market" price. What I want to know is how to the card companies think this will benefit them? It might take a year or two for some of us to figure it out, but buying sealed boxes is a total ripoff these days. Obviously that has to equal less product sold at some point. How is all of this worth it to them?

beardy said...

There was supposed to be a "for example" in there somewhere.

night owl said...

This is why I will never apologize for writing about 1989 Donruss.

Fuji said...

I totally agree... there was a time when you couldn't touch a Peyton Manning auto for under $100... nowadays... you can find them around $50. Same thing can be said about Montana, Marino, and even Elway's autographs.

There aren't enough new collectors to balance out the total # of autos & gu produced.

But... that's great for me... I'm able to slowly build up a nice collection, that I have no intentions of ever selling.

paw75 said...

I have never really gotten into collecting autographs. I have a few balls and programs sign, but I got them signed for me. I never expected to make any money off of them. I don't go out and buy the card auto either. There are a few I wo...uld like to buy, but probably won't just because there is something about obtaining the autograph yourself. It is nice to pull an auto out of a pack; although, when I do pull one, it will go on eBay. My brother was bitten by the Classic Brien Taylor auto card back in the 1990s. He was offered $100 the day he pulled it. He said he would hold off hope he could get more later. However, I think we know how that story ended. I glad to see some one is thinking about economic when it comes to cards.

Good Read.


GCA said...

The whole point of collecting is to gather what you like and enjoy it. If you're in it for profit, you're not a collector, your a dealer.
The only thing that higher value does is maybe make you a little prouder of what you have.
Now, the trick is to get fair value for the stuff you end up with that you don't want to keep in exchange for stuff you're looking for.
It's just tragic that the manufacturers and some collectors take the hype about the value of super platinum mojo hits way overboard and limit what's produced to the same old shiny multiswatch crap.

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