(“Collectors Corner” by Rich Mueller, Managing Editor of Sports Collectors Daily) – If statistics were kept on when the most money is spent on sports cards and memorabilia during the course of a year, we might find that July and August are the winners. The National Sports Collectors Convention sets up shop during early August this year, but major auction houses aren’t shy about leveraging the attention to put up their own catalog and live auction events during the summer. A few major auctions just ended. There are two live, super high-end auctions set to take place during the National. Currently, Huggins and Scott, Goodwin & Company, and Grey Flannel Auctions has their catalog auctions online. The growing Schulte Sports has its July auction is up and running. Soon, Memory Lane and Legendary Auctions will launch events featuring hundreds of items.
Serious collectors are in a buying mode this time of year. Many save their money for the National. Others have more leisure time to look over those auction catalogs and bid. Competition tends to be stiff for some of the best vintage cards. Most people have a limited amount of funds to spend. So what can you do to get the most bang for your hobby buck?
First, there is such a mountain of material going up for sale that bargains are bound to be found. While the top-grade, rare cards will attract big players and other dealers, some of the smaller vintage card lots will present attractive buying options. Everyone can’t bid on everything, so it’s a good idea to invest a little extra time in browsing the catalogs thoroughly to spot bargains. Read the auction descriptions carefully to spot potential items you can re-sell yourself. There are usually dozens of vintage lots that offer cards in bulk form and in a variety of grades.
It’s also a good time to consider chasing some of those smaller, satellite type sets you may have overlooked. Auctions are great places to find sets that other collectors have put together but are now selling to raise cash or simply aren’t into anymore. The sets probably cost them more to put together than they’ll sell for at auction. Many were put together on a budget, but with an eye for condition. There’s nothing wrong with an EX grade set of 1955 Topps Doubleheaders or a VG-EX run of 1930s Goudey premiums or Wheaties box back cards. Sets and lots are sold at the national, but because of the bulk involved in transporting them, the focus is often on single cards. If you do find them, they’re often priced at a level much higher than you’ll find at auction. Sometimes it’s easiest to save your want list work for the show and invest your time and bulk purchases for auctions.
With the focus on the card market, unique display pieces can sometimes provide an interesting option to complement your sets. There are hundreds of these types of items up for bid this time of year, too. Old photographs. Card-related advertising pieces. Game-used items. If you’re thinking you might be outbid on some of the better vintage cards you’re eyeing, consider shifting away into a bargain hunting mode and focus on something else. It’ll help you keep your interest and take your mind off the obsession with one particular set or card.
Rich Mueller is the editor of Sports Collectors Daily (http://www.sportscollectorsdaily.com), an online news aggregator for the hobby. The site offers fresh content every day, gleaned from industry and mainstream media sources.