Taking My Hacks

Defying a Recession

Joe Orlando

You hear and see it everyday. On the news, on the street and on the internet, the word recession has come to dominate headlines and conversations across America. Real estate has been going down and unemployment is going up while the US dollar continues to lose its strength. All of this is happening as we approach a crucial Presidential election. Of course, none of this is news to any of you.

The pertinent question here is ... how has all of this affected the hobby?

Amazingly, at least when it comes to quality material, the hobby has remained relatively unaffected by the recession. After a typical spring auction season, with thousands of high-quality lots up for sale, the results defied the economy. The prices realized were, at worst, healthy and, at best, tremendous. Many price records were set on a diverse selection of items, offered by various auction houses.

You may be thinking, how is this possible when basic necessities like loaves of bread and gas continue to increase in price, leaving the consumer with less and less disposable income? It may seem to defy logic at first but, if you break it down and really think about it, it becomes apparent how the market for high-end collectibles can survive such tough economic times and, in some cases, actually thrive during such times.

Below are three key reasons why great sports collectibles remain strong in a weak economy.

1) Emotional/Sentimental Connection - Other traditional forms of investment such as stocks and bonds are just that - a strict investment. What sports collectibles offer, in addition to investment potential, is that emotional or sentimental appeal. People do not stop rooting for their favorite team or idolizing their favorite players simply because the economy is suffering. That connection remains as does the drive to seek out one of their favorite endeavors - collecting - the escape hobbyists all crave.

2) Proven Track Record - Once again, there are plenty of traditional investment opportunities, some of which offer better returns than others. When it comes to quality sportscards and memorabilia, the overall performance of the market rivals and, in many cases, has often outperformed traditional investment strategies. All you have to do is take a look back 10, 15 or 20-plus years and you can see all the incredible buying opportunities. If we only knew then what we know now. Well within the last decade, you could have purchased a T206 Honus Wagner in Poor condition for around $25,000-$50,000. The last one sold for over $300,000.

3) Less Volatility - Like any market, the market for sports collectibles goes up and down. In some cases, price fluctuations can be great. That being said, in comparison to other markets, ours appears to be less volatile. Much of that has to do with number one on this list. The emotional/sentimental factor helps guard against huge swings, at least in some cases. Even within a week or two after 9/11, there were tremendous prices still being paid at auction. That's right, even soon after 9/11!

The bottom line is that our market has persevered and the three points above are just part of the story. Through good times and bad, collectors have refused to surrender their passion, the hobby that has been so rewarding for them. The future looks bright, even during gloomy days.

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.