Taking My Hacks

Weathering the Storm

Joe Orlando

 

As consumers continue to wrestle with economic fears and the government tries to avoid disaster, the hobby keeps plugging along. While there's no question that a poor economy of this magnitude will impact the collectibles business, there's also no question that our market has performed relatively well in comparison to most other traditional forms of investment.

As an example, my 401(k) has been annihilated in the last few months. I continue to hear from friends and acquaintances, each of them telling me how their stock portfolio has been destroyed. In addition, we all know how bad the real estate market has been. I know my home isn't worth nearly as much as it was just a year or so ago. I am sure many of your investments have suffered a similar fate.

Beyond the sheer decrease in value, the current volatility has made things even worse. One day, the Dow is up 300 points, then it's down 500 points, then it's up again only to crash the next day. It's like the entire stock market is on roller skates, no solid footing whatsoever. This does not help to soothe the fragile minds of people who have lost confidence in the system.

With all of this going on, how drastically has the collectibles market been affected?

At the high-end of the market, you would hardly know we were in a recession. Tangibles tend to perform very well during times like these and high-end memorabilia is no exception. There have been several major auctions that have closed during the last few months and, overall, great items continue to generate great prices.

The middle of the market has shown some signs of softening but... and here's the key... it's nothing compared to what's happening elsewhere. On items that are solid but attainable like a Mickey Mantle signed baseball or cards from the 1960s graded PSA NM-MT 8, you may have seen a slight decline. Compare that with losing 50% of your 401(k). There is no question that it would have been safer to have my 401(k) funds invested in Babe Ruth autographs or vintage football rookies in PSA 8s than in stocks before things went south.

The bottom of the market is probably affected most because, as they say, junk is junk. Items that are mass produced, have limited appeal or ones that are a product of a fad are extremely vulnerable in both good and bad markets. They also say that one man's trash is another man's treasure but I think you get the point.

People can laugh at our hobby and financial advisors may scoff at the idea of taking this seriously but the reality is that quality collectibles have shown the ability to weather economic storms better than many of the so-called traditional forms of investment. All you have to do is check historical data to see the evidence.

I have said it before and I will say it again. The advantage certain collectibles have versus stocks, real estate and such is the emotional attachment. Collecting is a vice for many people and, while the average person may have to curtail their spending, that vice is an escape that these same people use to forget about the world around them. It's hard to simply shut that desire down.

So, maybe a 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle in PSA 8 sold for $2,500 instead of $2,800 in recent months.

So what? Let's get real. So far, things aren't so bad. The hobby will weather the storm and, hopefully, come back stronger than ever.

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.