Taking My Hacks

Collectibles and Logic

Joe Orlando

The hobby can be a very strange place, and not just because of the Star Wars Cantina-like characters that you sometimes encounter while strolling the convention center aisles. It can be a strange place for a plethora of reasons. One of the things that continues to perplex many hobbyists is the lack of logic, at times, applied to collectibles or collectible values.

I am sure it has entered your mind from time to time. You might be perusing an auction catalogue and the results, following feverish bidding on eBay or just combing the tables at a show. Do you ever just sit there, shake your head and wonder what someone is smoking as they pursue an item that just doesn't seem appealing at all to you? I know I have... and it happens somewhat often. To be fair, it also may be a result of something snorted, injected, swallowed, freebased or drank but your curiosity remains the same regardless.

Now, it's true that we all have our own tastes in collectibles and other things such as music, food and clothes. For example, some people think that the shirt I am wearing in this photo was game-used by Elton John. In retrospect, wearing this shirt was a bad decision on my part since it appears more purple than blue in the picture. Not to worry. Shortly after the photo was taken, I wished the shirt into the corn fields so it would never been seen again, except maybe by the children of the corn.

Back to the point of the article...

When I discuss items that are seemingly undervalued or overvalued with fellow hobbyists, we always come back to the same conclusion. Sometimes, logic simply doesn't apply. I can rationalize and come with up sound arguments for or against something but, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that there are enough people who find a collectible desirable to drive the demand, regardless of how nonsensical it sounds on paper.

Take Beanie Babies for instance. I never did and never will understand the appeal of these things but, for a time, sales were through the roof and they were the hottest collectible in the country. They were small-sized stuffed animals that weren't of special quality or really much different than any other stuffed animal you could buy at any toy store in the nation yet people went crazy over these things in the 1990s.

If we could go back in time and I proposed a bet to you or any sensible person about the viability of such a collectible, no one would have bet that this would work... at least to the astonishing level of success the product reached at one time. After being pitched on the product back in 1993 (prior to the launch of Beanie Babies), we would have all scoffed at the idea that these cheap-looking toys would make its manufacturer millions upon millions of dollars.

The point here is that it can be mind bending or even frustrating when you see what others might find interesting in our collecting world but the success of things like Beanie Babies or the remarkable prices paid for certain types of sports collectibles, both high and low, just goes to prove that sound reasoning can sometimes work against the person who is an investor or speculator. Usually, over time, items that should rise or decline in value do just that because there are a lot of smart people out there but you can never underestimate the power of propaganda to the masses.

Otherwise, you and I would have our own island right now after inventing the pet rock.

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.