Taking My Hacks

Sometimes... the More, the Merrier

Joe Orlando

The PSA Population ReportSM has become such a powerful resource in the market, especially for high-end cards, that I think it is time to discuss a topic that has traditionally left some hobbyists confused.

The general feeling, amongst collectors, is that the prices of cards drop as the population numbers increase in the marketplace. As a general rule, this is basically the case. For example, over the past few years we have seen an increase in the amount of 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle rookies that grade PSA Mint 9. This has caused a drop in price for that card to around the $50,000-$60,000 range despite once reaching $100,000 a few years ago.

This particular card, as is the case with some other cards that sell in the $25,000-plus range, often take serious hits when the PSA Pop increases. It is often difficult for the market to absorb cards of this magnitude if the PSA Pop jumps suddenly. We are talking about some serious money here and it is for merely one card.

This example is not newsworthy or hard to understand but there is an opposite reaction that can occur if it involves the right type of card issue. This is the topic that has some confused but it is very important for collectors to understand. Sometimes, when the PSA Pop does increase on a particular set or card, the exact opposite market reaction takes place - the cards surge upward in price!

Here's an example. Let's take the T205 Gold Border set. This set is very, very tough and advanced collectors know this. Sometimes, a set can be so tough that many collectors will not even bother to collect it. They decide to throw in the towel so to speak before the contest even begins. The difficulty scares people. These collectors think that if the set is virtually impossible to collect or to collect in a certain grade, why even think about it?

The same can be said of other extremely tough issues like the 1914 Cracker Jacks and many other pre-war and post-war issues. People often wonder why 1915 Cracker Jacks sell for nearly as much or more than their 1914 counterparts even though everyone knows the 1914 issue is much tougher. It comes down to the same logic stated earlier. If 1914's are perceived to be too tough, collectors give up before trying. They would rather take their chance with 1915's since it is actually feasible to complete a decent set.

In many situations like the Cracker Jack example, if there was a small find of nice cards, it would most likely help stimulate the values instead of hurting them. There are plenty of collectors who would be interested in collecting tough sets like the 1914 Cracker Jacks; they just refuse to start something that they feel cannot be finished. That is often what collecting is all about - setting goals and striving towards completion.

There has also been ample evidence of this approach in the complete set category. A couple of years ago, a completely graded 1911 M116 Sporting Life set sold for nearly $200,000 at auction. This set was fairly soft prior to this auction but, since the set was being offered in one lot and in high-grade, collectors took notice and the bidding wars began. This set was almost too difficult to complete by hand, one card at a time so collectors waited for this unique opportunity.

In the end, just remember that Pop upswings will not necessarily cause a downturn in the market. Sometimes, the more cards graded - the merrier.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief


Joe Orlando has been an advanced collector of sportscards and memorabilia for over 25 years. Orlando attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California where he studied communications and was the starting catcher for the baseball team. After a brief stint in the minor leagues, Orlando obtained a Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School in Southern California in the spring of 1999. During the last fourteen years, Orlando has authored several collecting guides and dozens of articles for Collectors Universe, Inc. Orlando has also authored two books for Collectors Universe. Orlando's first book, The Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby, was released in the summer of 2002. His second book, Collecting Sports Legends, was released in the summer of 2008. Orlando has appeared on several radio and television programs as a hobby expert including ESPN's award-winning program Outside the Lines and HBO's Real Sports, as the featured guest. Currently, Orlando is the President of PSA and PSA/DNA, the largest trading card and sports memorabilia authentication services in the hobby. He is also Editor of the company's nationally distributed Sports Market Report, which under Orlando's direction has developed into a leading resource in the market. Orlando also contributed the foreword and last chapter to The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories, a 2010 release, and to The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players, a 2013 release.