Tips for investing in Baseball Cards and Sports Memorabilia
Prudent Collectors knows the importance of diversifying one’s investment portfolio. While investing in stocks is on top of almost everyone’s list, the investors are looking to invest in in art, collectables and other areas where their passion lies. And, one genre that has grown by leaps and bounds is sports memorabilia. Though, just like every other investment, this too isn’t risk-free, but the three factors to help you take an informed decision are: quality, rarity and authenticity. And, baseball collectibles remains the most celebrated category in sports memorabilia. Despite the “death of baseball cards,” rare baseball cards of legendary players have never failed to amaze the serious collectors and avid basketball fans.
Recently, we reported about a rare 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card that was sold to a New Jersey buyer for $1.23 million in an auction. The Pittsburgh Pirates player Honus Wagner baseball card is considered as the world’s most valuable card. Honus Wagner once said, “I don’t make speeches. I just let my bat speak for me in the summertime.”
What made Honus Wagner’s baseball cards more valuable is the discontinuation of his baseball cards after Honus Wagner himself objected to it saying, “I don’t want my picture in any cigarettes, but I also don’t want you to lose the ten dollars, so I’m enclosing my check for that sum.”
The cards designed and issued by the American Tobacco Company (ATC) from 1909 to 1911 as part of the company’s T206 series became collectibles soon after.
Here’s a brief history of Honus Wagner’s baseball cards and their popularity with collectors over the years:-
Selling Price: $25,000
In 1985 , a small-time Hicksville, New York card collector named Alan Ray sold his mint condition Piedmont-backed T206 Honus Wagner baseball card for a price of $25,000 to Bill Mastro, a sports memorabilia dealer who later founded Mastro Auctions and became one of the most powerful figures in the industry.
Bill Mastro bargained with Alan Ray to add 50 to 75 baseball cards from his T206 series to strike the deal.
IInd deal in 1985:-
Selling Price: $30,000
Mastro gifted one card to his close friend, Rob Lifson, who was Mastro’s financial backer in the card deal. Lifson, later sold the card to a businessman named Barry Halper for $30,000, within the same week.
Selling Price: $110,000
Mastro sold his card in 1987 to Jim Copeland, a San Luis Obispo, California sporting-goods chain owner, for $110,000.
Selling Price: $451,000
Jim Copeland decided to sell his entire 873-piece card collection in a single sale through Mastro. Mastro contacted Sotheby’s New York. The auction house Sotheby’s held the “Copeland Collection of Important Baseball Cards and Sports Memorabilia” auction in March 1991, which attracted nearly 800 collectors.
Copeland’s T206 Honus Wagner saw fierce bidding at the auction. Within minutes of the opening bid for the T206 Wagner card, the highest bidder had put down $228,000, twice the pre-auction estimate at a price of $114,000, which further kept on building, and the card was finally sold off to a phone bidder, Wayne Gretzky for $451,000, nearly four times the pre-auction estimate for the card, which includes a $410,000 bid for the card with Sotheby’s 10% buyer’s premium. The card became known as the “Gretzky T206 Wagner” to the public.
Selling Price: $500,000
In 1995, Gretzky sold the card to Wal-Mart and Treat Entertainment for $500,000, which both the companies intended to use as the grand prize in a promotional contest.
Selling Price: $641,500
Finally on February 24 in year 1996, the 122nd anniversary of Wagner’s birthday, the grand prize drawing for the card turned out to be in favor of Patricia Gibbs, a postal worker living in Hollywood, Florida, who could not afford to pay the taxes on the card, and consigned the card to Christie’s, New York.
And, later in Chrisite’s auction, Michael Gidwitz, the same individual who earlier battled with Gretzky for the card at the Copeland auction in 1991, won the auction for a bid of $641,500.
Selling Price: $1.265 million
Gidwitz partnered up with eBay and Robert Edwards Auctions to sell the card, and on July 15, the card was sold to Brian Seigel, a collector from California, for $1.265 million.
In September 2000, another T206 Wagner that was given a two on the PSA’s 1–10 grading scale sold for $75,000.
Selling Price: $237,000
A PSA 2 card sold for $237,000 and, at the same auction, a PSA 1 card sold for $110,000.
Selling Price: $2.8 million
In February 2007, the Associated Press announced that Brian Seigel, the collector from California, who bought a Honus Wagner’s baseball card in year 2000 for $1.265 million, had sold the card privately & directly to an anonymous collector from Southern California for $2.35 million.
In September 2007, the card again traded hands with another anonymous collector for $2.8 million.
Selling Price: $1.62 million
A memorabilia dealer bought a 1909 T206 Wagner PSA 5 MC (Miscut) for $1.62 million.
In November 2008, an SGC 3 graded Wagner card was sold for $791,000, inclusive of 13% buyer’s premium.
Selling Price: $262,000
In 2010, a rare Honus Wagner was found in a box left by nuns of the Baltimore-based School Sisters of Notre Dame, in a poor condition. The card was expected to fetch between $150,000 and $200,000, and it was subsequently sold for $262,000 to a New Jersey cardiologist.
Selling Price: $1.23 million
On April 20th, 2012, an anonymous New Jersey resident purchased a VG-3 graded T206 Honus Wagner baseball card for $1.23 million.
And, again in a row, Memory Lane Inc., an Orange County based company is offering another rare Holy Grail Honus Wagner card Graded “2” (“Good” ) by Professional Sports Authenticator. Currently the card is at $600,000 and is believed to sell for over $1 million, considering only 50-100 of these cards are in existence.
The card’s opening bid of $550,000 has already been made, which turns out to be at a remarkable $654,000 with the company’s 19% buyer’s premium. But, the bidding not scheduled to end until May 5.
The owner and collector , JP Cohen shared an insight about the card and his hobby. Read on:-
1) When purchasing vintage sports cards or memorabilia, what are the important factors to keep in mind?
JP: When purchasing vintage sport cards and memorabilia it is always important to buy from a reputable dealer or someone you know. Always make sure the item your buying comes with a letter of authenticity from a third party authenticator. We use a company that is considered the leader in authentication in the world called Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) based in Newport Beach CA. This company has been authenticating for over 20 years. Our Wagner card is authenticated by them as well.
2) Baseball memorabilia typically is most popular in sports collectibles. If a person owns one of the rare baseball memorabilia, how should he go about getting the authentication done using experts in the field?
JP: Anyone interested in having their items authenticated or appraised can contact us at 877-606-5263 or visit our website www.memorylaneinc.com.
3) Any tips for new collectors on how to buy and sell sports memorabilia?
JP: When buying sports memorabilia always buy what you might love or have a passion for and try to always buy rare one of a kind items as well as these type have a far better chance of appreciating over time.
So, for those who can looking to invest millions in sports memorabilia, now is your chance to own one of the most valuable baseball card.
You can contact Memory Lane Inc. here at 717-730-0600 and at call (877) 606-LANE (5263).
Also check-out the most expensive sports memorabilia sold at auctions.