Advanced sportscard valuation: Pricing one of one cards

Posted on September 24, 2015 by Collect TheHobby | 0 Comments

We always get questions from collectors and dealers looking for help on sportscards valuation and pricing.  One of the most difficult aspects of this is pricing one of one cards (1/1).  You may have seen these cards on eBay or Amazon

Valuation on commonly found cards can be confusing, but because there are many examples to look at, you can trend their historical prices to figure out a fair value.  When you have a card that is the only one, the value is often an opinion of what anyone will pay at a given moment in time.  In this post we will cover how to identify these cards and some frameworks to help value them.

What are one of one cards?

There are several types of one of one cards in today's market.  The first kind are cards that are produced to be the only one.  In most cases, the truest one of one cards are serial numbered with a "1/1" or it will say the words "One of One".  In some sets these cards are not numbered but it will be known in collecting circles that only one was made. 

The second group of one of one cards are based on condition.  You may see cards that are the only one in existence for their grade.  A BGS 9.5, an SGC 98, or a PSA 10 may be the only one that is in gem mint condition out of all the copies of that card that were made.  It can be any year or any grade, if the population is one, then there is often a premium in the price.  If the population increases by one, then the status is lost after that.

The last group of one of one cards is a very debatable area.  These are cards where the serial number may be attached to the player.  The best example are "jersey number" cards where the serial number is something like xx/50 and the player wear xx on his uniform when he plays.  Another example are cards that are the only one on a venue.  Cards in this group are losing their appeal as one of one cards as time passes and the premium is declining. 

The true one of one's in the first group are the one's that collectors are most likely to recognize year's from now.  The other groups are softer examples of one of one's and their values can change easily.

How to value them?

The comparison or trending method of pricing is so difficult on one of one cards that this is also why there is almost never a book value in any of the price guides.  They cannot possibly track all of the sale prices on one of one cards.  These cards can swing in price very fast because ultimately the price is simply an agreement between a seller and a buyer.  Even still, there are several ways based on the types of one of one's to get a fair ballpark for both parties if they want to take the time.

  • By player

One of the most relevant ways is to compare by player.  What are other one of one cards of that player selling for?  One of one's are in many sets today and comparing by player has become easier and easier as more cards like this have been made over the years.   Be careful to compare apples to apples, such as high end sets to high end sets to be as fair as possible.   Licensed cards will outsell unlicensed cards that seem to have similar attributes.

  • By set

Sometimes there isn't as much data for a player.   Maybe they are a new rookie and they do not have many cards yet?  Maybe they were excluded from some years and now have newer cards because they improved their performance over time?  Valuing by set can be trickier if two people do not agree, but you can use this method to see what comparable current players have sold for that are from the same set.   You can compare players who may price similar by using a regular base set and comparing the prices of two players with similar skill sets.

  • By grade

When trying to price cards by condition, you would compare other cards in a similar set in the same grade.  You will need to still use as similar a player type as possible.   For example, a common player is less likely to sell for similar prices as a superstar in most sets within the same grade. 

These are the top ways to categorize and value one of one cards.  It's certainly not an exact science and there is some level of subjectivity when dealing with these types of cards.  At times the values can be somewhat random if there is impulse buying or a very hot player being sold.  Make sure to consider those factors when determining a value as well.

If you ever need help with your sportscards or non-sportscards collection, feel free to contact us.  We would also welcome some comments below if you have any other questions or thoughts on this post.  For more general information on sportscards and collectibles, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter, instagram, or pinterest!

Posted in Buying and Selling, Collecting Tips

Should I have my cards graded?

Posted on August 12, 2015 by Collect TheHobby | 1 Comment

It has become one of the common questions in the sportscards market since grading really began to grow in popularity in the late 1990s.  We get this question often from new collectors who are learning, but also hear from seasoned collectors who have not tried grading as part of their hobby yet.  Grading, as you may know, entails sending your sports and non-sports cards to a 3rd party authenticator to have the condition formally evaluated.  While there are nuances in scale for different companies, the general range is how nice the card is on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best condition.  Once there is a grade, valuing and trading the cards becomes a lot easier.  Grading increased in popularity quickly as sales moved more and more to the internet versus in person.  It gives one a good idea of condition without being there in person with the seller of a card.  Grading will enjoy popularity for a long time as long as cards are sold online.

The short answer to the question is that it depends.  In this post we will expand on that answer and discuss some common thoughts as one goes through the decision process on grading.

Why do people have their cards graded?

The concept of grading is popular because it serves a few major purposes for most collectors that grade cards.  The first and most is to determine authenticity.  This is especially important with high dollar cards from vintage to modern.  By the late 1980s as collecting got into the "boom years" it became common for larger and larger scale counterfeiting groups to move in and try to make some money with fake cards.  It was increasingly popular to "manufacture" some of the most popular cards at the time from the timeless 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle or a classic 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth to a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan, 1979 OPC Wayne Gretzky, or a 1985 Topps Mark McGwire.  If you could make passable cards in those days it became the same as printing fake money.  Many key cards were faked and as a result grading began to emerge and was made popular by PSA.  As the years passed, BGS and SGC also emerged to make a trio of leading authenticators.  Making sure your cards are real is a very valid reason to get them graded, regardless of the condition.  

Secondly, as noted grading serves the purpose of assigning a condition to the card including catching alterations.  Another issue by the late 1980s was many, many unscrupulous "dealers" at the time tried to sell unsuspecting buyers misgraded and altered cards as often as they could get away with it.  An advertisement in a magazine or catalog would claim "near mint" for condition and you would receive cards with VG to EX corners or a wrinkle.  Other times the cards would be recolored or maybe a mark was removed with a soaking process.   Trimming became more and more popular, a process where cards would be cut down to size and passed off as factory cut.  While grading has not been perfect in catching alterations in cards over the years, it has done a tremendous service to the hobby to reduce the amount of altered cards out there. 

Lastly, collectors and dealers use grading to help value cards.  Having a third party evaluate the condition of a card can help two parties come to an agreement quickly on its condition and subsequent value.  This became very important with more cards exchanging hands via the internet every year.  It's significantly easier to buy and sell if you have a very good idea of the type of condition card you are buying and selling.  Many cards in certain grades trade in bands just like stocks.  Highs and lows are established for grades and many buy and sell more graded cards for this reason.

Misconception: All cards should be graded

Some rumors have traveled through the hobby off and on about grading over the years.  The one that stands out that many think of when they hear of record sales prices that graded cards often bring, is that all cards should be graded.  It's often thought initially by those first learning about grading cards that if the potential is there to increase the value you should always grade the cards. However, the clear truth is that in many cases getting cards graded can lower their value.  Often less experienced collectors and dealers will naturally over grade their cards.  It's human nature to want to give the best rating to cards that you can...especially the owner.  They may really believe a card is near mint, when in reality it's no better than very good.  In those cases, especially the newer a card is, it often lowers the value.  Most newer cards made since the 1980s that are ungraded trade closer to values that assume the card is in near mint to mint or better condition.  As these newer cards are easier to find, lower grades can make them significantly less desirable which lowers the value because less collectors will want them in lower grades. 

Good luck grading!

We hope this post helps you think more about whether to grade your sportscards!   Let us know if you have questions around grading cards anytime! 

If you ever need help with your sportscards collection, feel free to contact us.  We would also welcome some comments below if you have any other questions or thoughts on this post.  For more general information on sportscards, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter, instagram, or pinterest!

Posted in Buying and Selling, Collecting Tips

#TBT Throwback Thursday: Sportscards 25 years ago - July 1990

Posted on July 30, 2015 by Collect TheHobby | 0 Comments

Time for another Throwback Thursday post!  We decided to rewind back 25 years to take a quick look at how the hobby has changed more specifically over the last quarter of a century.  Baseball cards and sportscards overall were climbing rapidly to their peak in 1991.  At the time Beckett was the most popular magazine and we feel a July 1990 issue would be the best of all places to take a good look at that time period. 



The cover featured a 21 year old Ken Griffey Jr of the Seattle Mariners.   He was in the middle of his first all-star season in 1990 and had become one of the hottest players to collect in the hobby.  His 1989 Upper Deck rookie cards, which are classics now, were just starting to get hotter, moving up to $18 each in this issue.  The back cover featured Frank Viola during his superb all-star season where he won 20 games and finished 3rd in the Cy Young.  He was behind 1990 Cy Young NL Doug Drabek and Ramon Martinez.  Some think Frank should have taken that award noting the highest WAR among the three by a significant amount. 

The issue begins as they always did at the time, with a commentary on the time from Dr James Beckett called the "Owner's Box".  Being based in Texas, clearly they are very excited for the 1990 NSCC and the All-star game being in Arlington, Texas.   Their are prizes being awarded for detailed information on pre-1973 baseball card sets!

In 1990 there were dozens of healthy manufacturers in the hobby.  The hobby was still on the upswing approaching the 1991 peak in popularity.  You could find cards anywhere at that time from Supermarkets to Bowling alleys.  Hobby stores were opening at a fast rate in nearly every town in the United States it felt like.   Classic trading cards were big and Collect-A-Books were taking off.  New types of sets seemed to be coming out every single month. 

The Hotlist - July 1990

The hotlist at the time was headed by Bo Jackson.  He was already a huge star at this point but in 1990 he seemed to continue to dazzle in the first half of that season.  On July 11th he had his famous running up the wall catch.  Even more dazzling is that he hit a homerun in 3 straight at bats against the New York Yankees, driving in 7 runs.  He went on the DL after that dislocating his shoulder on a ball ironically hit by Deion Sanders (the other multi-sport star of the time).  He then managed to hit a homerun in his first at-bat off the DL later in the season off Randy Johnson to tie the major league record of 4 straight at-bats with a homerun.   Bo Jackson rookie cards are still very popular to this day.

Ken Griffey Jr was right behind Bo and of course would go on to pass him and all other players as the "Hottest of the 1990s" overall.  From here as a Mariner, Ken was the best selling overall player in the decade.  When you were opening packs and hit a Griffey, you knew you hit something was that simple for many years.  If you had piled up on his Upper Deck rookie cards back then, you would have done nicely now.  His more challenging cards should do very well as he gets elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, his first year on the ballot.

The most notable jumps back then as we remember it, was Cecil Fielder coming in at #17 with his breakout 1990 season featuring 51 moonshot homers.  1990 Score moving up to #12 with some notable error cards being chased coupled with a decent design for the times.  1990 Upper Deck had moved up to #24.  Some collectors may or may not remember, in those days Topps was actually lagging for being too traditional with their cards.  Stadium Club would come along soon to remedy that, but 1990 Topps is still a design many loathe to see. 


Vintage cards - 1990

Many collectors always want to know... what about the vintage cards?  For this post we will mention post-war cards briefly from the early 1950s to the late 1970s.  The prices of the vintage cards depends on the year.  Overall, we would say many keys cards have done really well, especially in higher grades.  High grade cards of all years have done very well through the mid-1960s.  For the late 1960s and 1970s the keys and ultra high grade cards have treated collectors well, but overall these have dropped or gone sideways from those days.  


Beckett in those days started with 1948 Bowman, but many would be most interested in the 1952 Topps page for fun.  An iconic card, the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle books at $7,000 in Near Mint condition in the July 1990 issue.  Safe to say with a recent PSA 7 Near Mint card nearly passing $100,000, you would have done really well buying as many of those as you could have found in any condition.  The prices of mid-to-late 1970s cards did not hold up as well overall, we suspect because the hobby is smaller and more of those survived in great condition.  There are exceptions in the key cards such as 1976 Topps Dennis Eckersley rookie cards (book up to $10) or 1977 Topps Bruce Sutter rookie cards (book up to $2.50).  Players like that were not appreciated fully in 1990.  Eckersley's rookie in PSA 10 has sold for over $11,000 in recent years and Sutter's rookie passes $1,000 regularly as well.  Amazing prices if you had chosen your cards carefully.

Lastly a couple of pages to illustrate the popularity of the hobby in 1990.  At that time in our area (New England) we had shows daily during some weeks and on weekends had dozens and dozens to choose from.  Shows were a big deal and the promoters did amazing things with the size of the hobby at that time.  We think many collectors would get a kick out of seeing things like this today, so we took a couple of favorites...

Great example of the popularity of shows:  One promoter in 3 states, for 3 days!

Another great point on shows:  note the hours?!  12 hours of treasure hunting!


#TBT - throwback thursday

We hope you enjoyed this brief look at the hobby a quarter of a century ago!  Things were certainly really different in 1990!  It's always fun to see how the hobby has evolved and hear great stories of its history!  If you have stories of sportscards like this, feel free to share them with us!  

If you ever need help with your sportscards collection, feel free to contact us.  We would also welcome some comments below if you have any other questions or thoughts on this post.  For more general information on sportscards and collectibles, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter, instagram, or pinterest!

Posted in Buying and Selling, Collecting Tips, Our Travels

A question we get often: What should I collect?

Posted on June 17, 2015 by Collect TheHobby | 0 Comments

It's a question we get fairly often in regards to sportscards and non-sportscards.  The answer honestly varies a lot for different people.  For some, you have been collecting for a long time already and you are looking for something new.  In other cases you have never collected, but you are searching for a cool new hobby to relax with.  In this post we will go over some common ways we see people collect that you could begin with or add to your existing collection with.  

By player or character

It's definitely been a favorite for as long as we can remember.  Collecting your favorite player or character can be tremendous fun.  Throughout trading card history there have been many manufacturers and sets made, so the choices are great.  You can spend very little or a lot and it's still fun to do by player or character regardless.  The downside with this way is sometimes depending on who you have chosen, this can get very cumbersome to those completion driven collectors.  By player or character is best when you aren't going to try to acquire everything out there, but more your favorite designs and your favorite sets.

By set

By set is another hugely popular way to collect cards.  This way gives those who like a finish line the most fun.  Most sets have certain number of cards to acquire making getting every card a reality.  Some collectors love the thrill of the hunt to completion.  Something to watch out for are sets with very rare cards, these can be frustrating to some.  Often times these sets do not get finished and collectors five up in frustration.   You should always shoot for a set that is manageable for you.  For some a 10 card set is plenty, for others its 100 cards as that takes longer than 10 and is more of a challenge.  By set is easiest when you set a budget first.

By team/theme

Collecting by a person's favorite team is big.  Always fun to buy your favorite players on your favorite team.  There are many way to collect by theme which always keeps this way exciting.  Some may collect sportscards by rookie cards of Hall of Fame members of a sport.  That gives you a set list of players to get at first and then one can update each year for new inductees.  These sets usually feature very desirable and valuable cards.  Many other themes can be a lot of fun as well.  Examples are by players who only played one year or by Pokemon of a certain type.  Maybe you collect a Garbage Pail Kid for each person in your family.  Maybe players with very unusual names.  The different ways you can collect by theme are only limited by your imagination.

By year

We have met collectors who collect everything made during the year they were born or the year a child was born.  You could choose any year for any reason.  All sports, all non-sports, from all countries... any cards made during the year they were born.  This one can be very fun as it paints a picture of what life was like for some during the time you were born.  It makes for a superb conversation starter to people who do not collect and likely showcases a great variety of sets.  The challenge for some years may be a very large amount of cards to collect, but that could be great to others. 

By value or scarcity

Some collect cards by value or rarity.  They will collect the most popular players and characters, but make sure it coincides with the most valuable cards.  Other valuable cards are usually rare cards, some only collect cards that are very difficult to find.   This can be fun to many who collect with an eye towards making a profit from what they collect.  This way can be very exciting, but the downside is increased risk.  Many cards that are very popular or rare with higher values can sell for unsustainable or irrational prices.  Many of these prices are temporary or change suddenly.  We have seen some people take some giant losses collecting this way, so we don't recommend collecting by value or scarcity for newer collectors.  If this style is of interest, we recommend wading into this slowly and learning as much as you can before spending a lot of money.

These are the ways we most often see collectors help them decide what to collect.  There are of course more ways to collect and they are only limited by your imagination.  We hope this can help you start or add to your own collection very soon.

If you ever need help with your sportscards or non-sportscards collection, feel free to contact us.  We would also welcome some comments below if you have any other questions or thoughts on this post.  For more general information on sportscards and collectibles, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter, instagram, or pinterest!

Posted in Collecting Tips, Our Travels

Review: Collector Crate

Posted on April 09, 2015 by Collect TheHobby | 0 Comments

**EDIT - we do not recommend ordering from Collector Crate at this time**

It looks like Collector Crate has run into some trouble.  To see more on this, Sports Card Radio reported on it here first.  Sports Card Info put together more on the story here.  We do not know anything definitive at this time, but a lack of response from Collector Crate is troubling at the very least.  It seemed like a promising idea that maybe another company will pick up from here, but for now we cannot recommend them as something to try out as we had wrote about below.


We recently won a twitter contest for a Collector Crate!  We had never won a social media contest of any kind before, so needless to say this is pretty exciting to start with a crate!  To quickly explain what these are, we will let their explanation do the talking:

"We are a unique monthly subscription service offering a mystery box filled with your favorite sports cards and collectibles. Choose from our 1 month plan without any long term commitment and receive the great cards and items included in our 3 and 6 month plans. You also choose from 3 different levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold) according to your budget. From the beginning collector to the seasoned hobbyist, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Don't forget to enter our monthly contest to win a FREE CollectorCrate on Facebook and Twitter. So join our community now and see what everyone is talking about!" - Collector Crate

So what's in the box?

We received a silver level crate as the prize.  These are the $69.99 level boxes and we had some idea what to expect based on the description, but once we opened the lid, it was amazing the amount of stuff that was inside!   There is a detailed list on the Collector Crate homepage that identifies what comes with each level.  Bronze starts at $29.99 and the highest is the gold level at $99.99.  We will do our best to keep this post concise, while trying to use more pictures.

The Miscellaneous items

We decided to start with the non-traditional items that are not packs.  When we won, they asked what our favorite 3 teams were.  Those of you who know us, know the first team is the Red Sox and lucky for us there was a lot here (we also named the Giants and the Cubs).

 The first piece that grabbed us was a Pedroia fathead!  He is among my wife's favorite players, so this is an obvious keeper!  Look for him to rebound in 2015 as he looks healthy for the first time in years!

Red Sox sunglasses Boston Red Sox Sticker    

Then many more Red Sox themed items including, sunglasses (my son now own's them), a metallic sticker, a mini pennant and a pack of 3D stars featuring Nomar Garciaparra!  The pack revealed two Sammy Sosa variations, a Jason Giambi (NYY), and a Chipper Jones.

Next up was one of the massive 1984 Topps Super Size packs!  These cards are obviously giant!  Love the Carlton we pulled, but the centering is just a little off... vintage packs are often this way explaining why those old PSA 10s sell for big bucks!  Not sure who the "other" piece is yet...1st baseman is my initial guess?  The cut is strange enough to create an optical illusion that the card did not fit in the wrapper... but in reality it did.


So far this is a fun product to break!  All kinds of goodies in the crate, especially related to our favorite team!  However, there is even more... From top left and downwards in first picture... The mini helmet is the San Francisco Giants, hoping to get to a game out there soon!  My son took the big league gumball very quickly!  There is a pack of doubleheaders...have not opened one of these in years...we pulled Jerome Walton, remember how hot that guy was in 1990?  My daughter immediately ran off with the fruit gushers pack.  The 4 MLB chipz we got featuring Danks, Axford, and Robinson Cano.  The mystery Red Sox chip is Jacoby Ellsbury.


On to the traditional packs of cards!

So far this crate has had a lot of very nice items, but the traditional packs are the biggest part of the fun for collectors!  One pack jumped out at us right away, it was a pack of 1999 Skybox Molten Metal.  These were innovative at the time for Fleer and were a mid-range hobby only product.  The pack is oversized, but features standard size cards.  The cool thing about our pack here is it's a 20th National pack.  These were distributed only at the National in Atlanta that year.  Easy to identify with the NSCC logo on the lower right.  In case you are unfamiliar, the NSCC is the National Sports Collector's Convention, the biggest annual show each year.  Often exclusive products are distributed at the convention, such as this pack we are about to open. 

1999 Skybox Molten Metal pack NSCC exclusive pack

In addition to the usual Metal Smiths and Heavy Metal cards, each special NSCC pack had one metal die cut card in a 30 card set of only Braves!  Hoping for a Hall of Famer, we scored a John Smoltz (bottom center)!  Our Heavy Metal is another Hall of Famer, Roberto Alomar with the Cleveland Indians at the time (top left)!  Todd Walker, Jason Giambi, Miguael Tejada, and Will the Thrill are solid players.  Fantastic pack!

One of the coolest packs in our crate was a pack or can of 1998 Pinnacle Inside!  These were released in can form, much like a standard soup can and you needed to open them with a can opener.  One in every 47 cans were gold parallel cans, but we got a regular version.  Each can has a different player or team.  We received an Arizona Diamondbacks can celebrating their inaugural season!  In every can when you open it, there is a pack of 10 cards sealed in plastic.  **A tip is to make sure you open the can from the bottom.**  These have value afterwards and many collect the cans.  The cans opened from the top have little value.  Our pack was great for the time as it included an Inside Tips Pitch Around card of Frank Thomas, Kevin Brown coming off a World Series win with a note of his trade to San Diego, Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, a Miguel Tejada "rookie", a smiling Sammy Sosa, and a shortstop named Nomar Garciaparra who had just won rookie of the year in 1997.  Very tough to beat that kind of luck if you imagine opening the pack in 1998. 

We moved to another group of packs with that classic 1980s look and feel.  Plenty of superstars and Hall of Famers to chase so we were excited to see who may be revealed?   Top left we begin with featuring 1987 Fleer Star Stickers.  The sticker card is the Chicago Cubs.  Best pull here looks like an Eric Davis.  Following next is a 1981 Fleer Sticker and All star game pack which features various team stickers and all star game trivia.  The gum is very stuck to the Tigers sticker! 


1989 Donruss is next, actually a favorite of ours!  Will we see a Ken Griffey Jr rookie card?  We did hit a "Rated Rookie" but it was Carlos Quintana.  My sister was a fan of his back then and thought he was going to be a star player for the Red Sox... oh well.  Last pack was a 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes.  No trouble pulling some stars here!  Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron included!



More packs!

The crate continues with more packs.  The next group of packs covers a range of 14 seasons.  More chances to pull some key cards in this group and we will open them backwards this time from lower right up to top left.  So the order is 2000 Skybox Molten Metal, 2007 Bowman's Best, 1984 Topps, and finally a 1993 Bowman pack.

Starting with the 2000 Molten Metal we got some nice cards and hit an Emerald of Roger Cedeno, which fell one in every four packs then.  Anyone win a fantasy league back then without that guy around to lead your team to a steals category win?  The 2007 Bowman's Best was an excellent pack.  Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez on the top row.  A rookie autograph of Adam Ottavino, now in the Rockies pen, and the bottom row is an Ichiro and a Ken Griffey Jr.  If you know these cards they are a nice design and hard to take photos from the refracting.  1984 Topps is another favorite of ours.  The gum is stuck to a Larry Williams and of note we pulled a stunning Ripken.  If graded, it's a 9 or 10 level card if it had better centering.  A real pack fresh beauty.  Lastly, a pack of 1993 Bowman.  A Jeter maybe?  No luck today, but notable cards included a Foil parallel of Red Sox super prospect Frankie Rodriguez (he was going to win many Cy Youngs awards) and the card of an up and coming Bernie Williams.


More packs...yes seriously!

In the next group there is a very cool 1997 Donruss Preferred tin pack! The others are packs of 2013 Topps Chrome, 2015 Donruss, and 2001 Upper Deck Decade 1970s baseball.  So this groups spans another 18 seasons, plenty of chances for stars!

We will start with the 2013 Topps Chrome, it's actually 3 packs together with the orange refractor pack bonus. The best three cards of the regular packs included a Jackie Bradley Jr rookie card, an Oswaldo Arcia xfractor rookie card and a 1972 look Miguel Cabrera.  The orange pack is where these really impress.  In that 3 card pack was a Nick Franklin rookie card, a Dustin Pedroia, and a Mike Trout! 

2015 Donruss is a recent release and this one had many nice cards as well including a Clayton Kershaw, a Francisco Lindor Elite insert (he looks like a future star), and a Justin Garza Olympic card.  Not a bad design this year and it looks like a challenging set to build still. 

2001 UD Decade 1970s featured psychedelic cards of Ruppert Jones, Dale Murphy, Lou Brock, Dave Parker, and Joe Morgan.  Lots of star power combined with a very classic 70s look is a winner!  Finally, the tin had a nice group, highlighted by a silver parallel of Edgar Martinez.  Edgar needs more of a look for the Hall of Fame, so be it if he was a DH.


The best for last

So we have made it to the last few items now.  The first is a pack of 1999 Topps Stars and Steel.  These are oversized packs that open like a tri-fold booklet and feature steel cards made using what is termed "serilusion technology" where a film laminate is bonded to an actual piece of 25 gauge metal.  Only in the 1990s did the collectibles industry see such unusual card designs.  Each "pack" features three cards and there were Gold and Domed holographic parallels randomly inserted at 1 in 12 and 1 in 24 pack rates. 

We hit 3 nice base cards featuring Andres Galarraga, Tony Clark, and Hall of Famer, Tony Gwynn.  Tony Gwynn is one of those players who really should be recognized more for his hitting abilities than he is.  He had such a quietly consistent career like few players to play any sport.  Besides his shortened rookie year, he hit .300 or better every single year he played... into his 40s. Every single year.  Consistent, period.  He got to the postseason three times and hit .306.  He played in two World Series and hit .371.  Amazing hitter.  Mr. Padre is missed.


The grand finale - the hit pack that has the guaranteed autos and relics!

We think it's a solid idea to add some guaranteed hits to the Collector Crate to make sure everyone gets something really exciting.  We had plenty of great items as it is, but just in case the packs don't yield enough these are awesome!  It comes in a black zip-lock style bag so that you don't know what will be inside.  We were hoping it would have something to do with our teams choices in the beginning and we were pleasantly rewarded that way.  At this level the promise is two game used items and two autographs and a rookie card, but there was more included.  For the Giants fan in us we love the 1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds rookie card.  The first autograph is an Adam Lind numbered to 399 made.  The other autograph was a Cesar Puello from 2014 Bowman Chrome.  He has a nice combination of power and speed that may make the majors soon as he is up to AAA.  As Red Sox fans first the game used cards are Jon Lester numbered to 399 made from 2013 Tier One and a green 2015 Donruss relic of David Ortiz!  Additionally we received a Collector Crate card exclusive sketch print of Red Sox legend, Ted Williams!  Emily Tester is the master of this artwork and she did an awesome job on this one!  The last item is a porcelain example of Hall of Famer, Joe Kelley's T206 Old Mill card with a Piedmont back.  Joe was born in Cambridge, MA and made his debut with the Boston Beaneaters.  Only 1909 of these sets were produced, very cool card.   Here is a shot of all of these hits:

Collector Crate - Hits

In Summary

We took our time opening this, enjoying every minute of it!  The team at Collector Crate obviously does a nice job packing in a lot of variety.  As you can see the packs will cover many different time periods and the miscellaneous items are excellent additions to a crate.  Any sports fan would be more than happy to receive one of these as a gift or on a regular basis.  The only caveat we can think of is that a seasoned collector may not enjoy this as much, as they may want to purchase their own packs.  Different collectors often have very different tastes (an 80s collector may not like recent packs and vice versa).  We enjoy many different aspects of collecting so a product like this is a winner to us.  If you are looking for a gift for a collector or you are new to collecting, we cannot think of an easier way to get into collecting.  You will get exposure to numerous areas of collecting with a Collector Crate and you can go from there when you learn what you like most.

If you ever need help with your sportscards collection, feel free to contact us.  We would also welcome some comments below if you have any other questions or thoughts on this post.  For more general information on sportscards and collectibles, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter, instagram, or pinterest!

Posted in Collecting Tips, Our Travels, What's new?

Sportscards: What does a "white whale" pull look like?

Posted on March 06, 2015 by Collect TheHobby | 0 Comments

So it's that time of year where an annual baseball card collector favorite, Topps Heritage baseball has just been released.  We are already seeing some awesome pulls on social media and the popular online venues where cards are sold!  A few red "Real One" autographs numbered out of 66, punchboard boxtoppers, down to very cool "gum stained" cards are all selling for strong prices so far.  You just never know what you will get in a box of this set, which makes it so much fun to open.  For fun in this post, we decided to share our best pull from Heritage over the years that we ever hit...a "white whale" card. 

More on "White whale" cards

What do we consider "white whale" cards?  Honestly the term is thrown around a little too often sometimes on cards that are cool, but not truly outstanding enough to be a real "white whale" in our minds.  To each his own, but we reserve the term for cards that fall into a few buckets.  One bucket are cards that are truly scarce now because of a low amount of survivors.  Think of pre-war cards made in the 19th century where less than a handful are known to exist.  Those are cards that when you land one it's an incredible feeling and they tend to be very valuable in all conditions even if they are barely resembling cardboard anymore.

The next bucket we use the term for are condition rarities.  Many vintage sets in the post-war period from the 1950s to the 1980s have cards like this.  They are cards where although you may easily find an off grade to mid-grade card, finding one in mint to gem mint condition is exceptionally rare.  For some of these, just finding one centered can be a bear of a task in any grade.  These usually end up being quite valuable as well and there a few modern cards in this bucket as well.

The last bucket is where our pull lands.  We use the term here for modern cards that are close to impossible to find.  We reserve the term largely for key "1 of 1" cards where there is only one example out there.  As one of one's are more common now, we only apply it to key rookie cards and important relics and cut autographs.  In some cases, as was the case with our card, the manufacturer skips any significant marketing around these cards or even add them to released checklists.

A whale is sighted...

We always break some Heritage each year and the set has evolved with different distribution methods over the years as you may know.  In the fall of 2009, it was another year of the "Updates & Highlights" boxes.  This is where high number Heritage cards were mixed with flagship update cards in packs rather than the complete set model you see today.  It was noted that there would be a run of cut signature cards, but we have never found a complete list to this day for 2009.  These cards are so tough to pull in these sets, that we typically do not have them on our radar as something to pull, because it just doesn't happen. 

My wife and I always break boxes together.  I had not planned on breaking many boxes of the high numbers in 2009, but we usually buy at least a little of every Heritage set.  The economy was still on shaky ground and it was a tough year overall selling singles.  We waited to see what the holidays looked like and saved more money for our kids instead.  Ironically, my in-laws who usually get us cards for Christmas chose a single hobby box of 2009 Update and High Numbers as a gift.  It was a busy year with the kids and we got to opening it that night.  

We always have a good time opening Heritage.  I tend to sit and read each card as I go because I enjoy this set in an old-fashioned way compared to most other sets.  We usually split the packs in half and go at our own pace.  My wife grabbed a pack from the box and said this one feels like winner.  I get that often from her, so I didn't flinch as I was reading the back of a Pedroia base card thinking it could be an SSP.  I thought I had scored, but I would soon be outdone.  As she opened the pack she had that face when she hits something extra special (she knows when she hits something valuable).  "I got a really thick card with an auto and a jersey!"  While she enjoys baseball very much, she doesn't know her history as well as I do and asks me... "Is Roger Maris a good player?... I think this may be a pretty big card".   "It's a real 1/1!!!", she yelled grinning indicating I need to pay attention now.  As I leaned to take a closer look...

Here is what she landed that night....

I feel like we jumped up and down for an hour and then told the story over and over at shows and online for weeks.  It was one of the highly coveted and under publicized Cut Autograph Relic cards from 2009's set, featuring Roger Maris!  A true 1 of 1 card of a lifetime!  A genuine "white whale" of a pull for us, especially considering the significance of this card!  As you may know the 2009 set was based on the 1960 Topps design.  That year Maris would have an outstanding season after being traded to the Yankees, showing some of the power that he would go on to display in 1961 to break a well known record we all know.  He lead the league with 112 runs batted in, a .581 slugging percentage, took home a Gold Glove award, and was ultimately the American League MVP in 1960.  Most people we meet have still never heard of it, so it definitely fits the bill for a "white whale" to us.


This card is likely always going to be our very best pull from a Heritage pack!  Although my wife would not agree as a diehard Red Sox fan, I still consider it the best pull we ever had out of any product due to it's "white whale" nature.  The Yankee pinstripe was a nice added touch on the relic and the "cut" fit inside the window which sometimes doesn't happen.  The card, although fresh from a new pack, had a real "vintage feel" about it.  It was a great design by Topps that I wonder why they did not advertise more as a possible "chase card".  I did enjoy the card for a little while and then decided to sell.  I wanted to find a collector who would appreciate the Yankee history more.  I fielded numerous offers at the time, but felt the economy was too soft and the offers were too low.  We put it away in a display case for awhile. 

We ended up selling the card a couple of years later on eBay for significantly more money than we had been offered at the time.  We are proud to say that it easily topped the "Top 50 Most Watched Sports Cards on eBay" hosted by Cardboard Connection when we sold it.  The buyer was a high end collector that we shall not name for privacy.  I do not know where the card has traveled to since, but I would guess that buyer still owns it if I had to.  Just an exceptional card!

Best of luck with your Topps Heritage breaks this year and beyond!

We hope this post shows you how magic can happen when you open a box of sportscards.  When it does, we doubt you will ever forget the feeling! 

If you ever need help with your sportscards collection, feel free to contact us.  We would also welcome some comments below if you have any other questions or thoughts on this post, especially if you know of other cards in this set that are similar.  Lasltly, share your "White Whales" with us on social media as well.  For more general information on sportscards, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter, instagram, or pinterest!

Posted in Collecting Tips, Our Travels

Using the "U PICK" or "you choose" lots for your Sportscard Collection...

Posted on February 23, 2015 by Collect TheHobby | 0 Comments

The concept of "you pick" lots

We were recently asked about the "you pick" lots you see on eBay and similar venues by someone who had never heard of them before.  At times, they go by various names and slang such as "U choose" or "you pick 'em" among others.  While we are not certain when they first began online, by the mid-2000s these pick lots had become very popular and still are today.  For newer collectors or collectors that have been away from the hobby for a long time, there can be confusion and misunderstanding with these lots.  This post should quickly alleviate any confusion for you and actually give you a great way to get a lot more out of your collection with significantly less effort.

It's the most efficient way to complete sets of all different kinds in today's market.  We have seen it with all kinds of trading card sets from baseball cards to obscure non-sport sets.  The primary purpose of these lots is to help collectors finish sets as easily as possible and typically as cost effective as possible.  This is especially true if you have no local card shows or retailers that carry singles for set builders.  Pick lots came about to take advantage of the ease of the internet.  The way to find them if you have never heard of them yet is to get onto an online venue that facilitates them.  It's most often eBay or other smaller venues that are similar where sellers can control the listings they make.  The search is easy... enter the set and the words "you pick" or "you choose" with them.  You could use "2010 Topps you pick" if you are working on a 2010 Topps set.  A random search using only "you pick" gives us results like you see below.  As you can see, anything from vintage sets to specific subsets and parallels of recent releases can be found in the "you pick" format.  You can mix and match for hundreds of sets on eBay now.

Each pick lot has a few elements to be aware of which are what set or subset is featured, how many cards are included and any special conditions different sellers may have.  That will be clear in the description for you.  We can take the last example above and note that you would receive 10 near mint out of the pack cards from 1975 Topps.  Where pick lots illustrate their efficiency is that the buyer will literally pick exactly which 10 cards they are buying.  Each seller's listing will have a different list of the available cards and the buyer will get to select from that list.  Then for a flat price regardless of card, the buyer receives the ten they picked.  In this example it's $1.20 per card regardless of which card.

Benefits to collectors

Often, when down to the last few cards, it makes a lot of sense to simply search for the cards you need and buy them until you have finished your set.  However, if you need 25 cards, paying for each card through many different sellers can waste a lot of time and money if a buyer is not careful.  Pick lots can get you the final 10, 20 or more cards in one single purchase... saving you the time and often the money.  You can also use them in different ways, such as to get all the cards of a certain team, or to acquire all the cards of a certain player or character.

In most pick lots, the singles are usually less expensive because the seller does not have to spend as much time listing an example of 143 commons they have.  They can make a single listing at a fixed price and let a collector get what they need quickly.  It's frequently a win for both the buyer and seller in pick lots.  In many cases sellers can make custom lots as well if you contact them... what if you need 17 cards, but lots are only in 10 or 20... you can ask for a custom lot of 17 to make things much easier for you.  It can be a great way to fill some moderately challenging and large sets quickly.  Many sellers will also cut the price per card as you make the lots larger to save even more.

Advanced benefits

If you like to sell sportscards, some pick lots can also be great money makers.  Many insert and special card sets are done in pick lot formats in today's collectibles market.  If you know singles from a set sell for $3 each frequently and you find a 10 card pick lot for $5 you can see the quick math.  10 cards sold at the $3 going rate brings you $30 for every $5 you spend through the pick lots.  We have seen this work well with prospect and rookie laden sets over the years as well.  Grab the likely hot rookie for a quarter each in pick lots and sell them as groups for solid gains.  Others know you can find rare cards and stars buried in these lots, too.  It varies by sets and you should do your homework to take advantage of pick lots in this way.  We know many collectors who do this every week to fund purchases of more cards for themselves.

Hope this helps you!

We do run pick lots in our eBay store fairly frequently (search "pick") and there are always hundreds of other sets on eBay every day as well.

We hope this post gives you a good general idea of what pick lots are for trading cards and how they can help you improve your collection.  If you ever need help with your sportscards collection, feel free to contact us.  We would also welcome some comments below if you have any other questions or thoughts on this post.  For more general information, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter, instagram, or pinterest!

Posted in Buying and Selling, Collecting Tips