(“Collectors Corner” by Rich Mueller, Managing Editor of Sports Collectors Daily) – When the economy began to suffer in 2008, a friend said he suspected that we would see a “flight to quality” in both the stock market and in the sports card and memorabilia market. During tough times, safe harbors like high grade vintage cards and items associated with Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and a few other icons usually do become more popular with those who have an eye on investing as well as collecting. Scarce, one-of-one graded cards fit in that arena too.
Some shift their interest to blue chip items because the prices dip just enough to allow them to finally own them. Others buy because it’s a relatively safe place for your money to be. When economic conditions are static or favorable, the demand for those things usually outpaces supply by a pretty good margin and that’s why prices eventually float upward.
Collecting, though, is supposed to be more about fun than anything and the last sixteen months or so seem to have been a pretty good time to chase after items that have suffered a bit. The pool of disposable income that folks have had available to put into cards, autographs and other items shrunk and many lots of older cards that weren’t resting in mint-graded slabs became pretty good bargains. It’s been a pretty good time to buy things you’ve always wanted to add to your collection that used to be more expensive. The price drops haven’t been catastrophic, of course, but some items just aren’t bringing what they once did.
It’s still true on many levels. People continue to watch their wallets and there are bargains to be had in large lots of older cards. PSA 7-level type vintage sets are a good buy now. Older regional sets have, in many instances, been much cheaper than in the past. Hall of Famer autographs have been available at very attractive levels—even oversized photos that would be the centerpiece of any hobby room can be had for well under $100. Even once-strong sets like the 1986-87 Fleer basketball issue have seen significant price drops. If you have always wanted to own an ultra high-grade Jordan rookie card or complete set but couldn’t afford one, this might be the time.
It’s a good time to do some research. Look up past auction results and compare what items are going for now, then pick a market that looks soft. Chances are it won’t stay that way for much longer.
Rich Mueller is Managing Editor of Sports Collectors Daily, updated Monday through Friday with fresh sports collecting stories culled from news sources across North America.