March 29, 2012

Veteran collectors react to CBS Sunday Morning story, the death of baseball cards - Part 2

After reading this story, scroll down to access two previous blog posts on this subject, including a link to the CBS video. Part three of this series will be posted in a couple of days.

Mel Solomon, New Jersey

Interesting post in your blog. Mostly sad but true. I would put a real big blame on the graders and the promoters of same who have jacked up prices. PSA puts out a monthly price guide which touts its card prices and works with certain auction houses. It is in its own best interest to show that graded cards fetch bigger prices so people will send in cards to be graded.

I went to the White Plains, NY card show on Saturday. To my surprise there was a plethora of vintage cards from the 1950's and 1960's and also early 1930's cards. Over half the tables had the older cards and in large quantities. I can only assume that people are selling their collections.

One dealer told me that he bought a collection of 1950's sets for $30,000. The problem is that the prices are so high.

Another problem is generational. The baby boomers collected cards as kids so they wanted to rekindle the memories. Many also had all or part of their collections and wanted to complete the sets and/or upgrade condition as in the 1950's no one really cared about condition -- if they did why would flip cards or carry around large stacks of cards with rubber bands around them? I knew a lawyer who had a large collection when he was a kid and was filling in sets.

Today anyone born in 1970 or later would be over 40. The cards of their youth would start around 1980 when people would have complete sets. Why would anyone put together a 1983 set if you could easily buy the entire set for $50? It might seem hard to comprehend but in 1978 when many of us got into the hobby 30 year old cards would be 1948 Bowmans. Today 30 year-old cards are 1982 Topps.

Tom Owens, Boone IA

The CBS tale was sad. However, as long as people love baseball, they'll want to keep those feelings and memories alive. I don't think the Sunday Morning story was the final chapter on baseball cards.

Damon Solomon, Florida

It’s a different world. You can add stamp collecting and coin collecting to the list as well. There are so many choices for today’s youth that the old traditional joyous pastimes of our youth are gone forever. Today’s youth are so into the i-phone and texting that they’ll never know the joy of a game of stickball, baseball or just tossing the old pigskin around. When was the last time a youngster went to the library to do some research? Oh well, we’ll always have our memories to look back on.

Darrell Berger, New Jersey

I believe cards and all memorabilia of great players will retain some considerable value over the years, but other cards, sets and so forth may not. I remember in the 1980s when I was starting to collect again, the market for Tom Mix memorabilia was crashing. Why? The "kids" who collected Mix-iana were dying off. I thought even then this was a cautionary tale for baseball cards and it has proven true.

The boomer collectors can sell to each other but it is almost impossible to find markets among younger folk. Look at Sports Collectors Digest and about all they write about are auctions people win "investment" quality graded cards. They might as well be dealing in diamonds or Persian rugs. This isn't baseball card collecting, it's another form of investing/speculating.

I enjoy having the stuff I still have and think of it as an enjoyable part of my history. But the future? No. Then again they have been saying radio would die for about 50 years now, so who knows?

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