Taking My Hacks

Uncovering a Seller's Real Motivation

Joe Orlando

As collectors, we know why we choose to use one authentication or grading service over another. Many collectors ask the right questions before they decide to build a collection around a particular brand name. It provides the foundation for everything they collect. The questions may resemble the following...

How long has the company been around?

How big of a market share does the company have?

How many items have they certified?

When it comes time for me to sell, will I get the best price for my collectible if it's certified by this company?

How strong is the company's brand name and how far is its reach?

These are just some of the questions that buyers may have and they are all important because, at some point, the buyer becomes the seller. It may not be today and it may not be tomorrow but there will come a day when our collectibles will be sold off or passed along to someone else. That is why it is imperative for the buyer to think like a seller at the point of sale. Someday, it will be important.

It is also important that we, as buyers, uncover the real motivation behind everyday sellers when they choose to use a particular service. These are the sellers that, unlike most collectors, make their living by selling day-to-day. Most of these sellers use the same logic you or I would when it comes time to sell, they go with the service that they feel will garner the most interest in the market. That's the good news. The bad news is that is not the only motivation a seller may have in choosing a service.

This applies to autographs, trading cards, game-used equipment, packs and the like. If it can be authenticated or graded by a third party, then it is a serious issue. There are two likely scenarios that you may have encountered where you have to question the intent of the seller.

1) Scenario 1 – The LOA/Grading Shopper: You have seen it before... and you will see it again. Here's an example. In one auction, everything is certified by one company. The next auction, everything is certified by another company. It goes on and on and on. It's one thing if a company makes a change for the better and goes with a solid company. It's another if they are as consistent about selecting services as Shaquille O'Neal is about making free throws. Did they change services for a legitimate reason or did they simply do it because they had too many autographs rejected last time around?

2) Scenario 2 – The 90/10 Rule: This is another common situation. You walk up to a dealer's table to see 90% of the autographs or cards certified by one company while the balance of the product sits alone in the corner, certified by another service – usually a less notable one. Any reasonable buyer would question this. Why are most of the items certified by one service while a select few are certified by another? Did the seller merely disagree with the outcome? Did the seller realize that the item wouldn't pass another service? Did any thought go into the selection at all?

Sellers, like buyers, have the right to choose when it comes to 3rd party services but finding out why is of the utmost importance. The vast majority of the time, the answer is the obvious one. Just trust your instincts... they are usually dead on. Remember, it's your money.


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.