Taking My Hacks

In Some Cases, Ignorance is Not Bliss

Joe Orlando

I am sure you are familiar with the popular cliché "Ignorance is Bliss". I am a firm believer in this concept. To me, it seems the more aware you are of things in this life, the harder it can be to achieve happiness or peace of mind. It is not always the case but it sure seems to be the general rule.

I can remember listening to one of my favorite comedians, Chris Rock; explain his thoughts about this cliché during an interview. Rock was not performing; he was actually attempting to be somewhat sincere for a moment. Rock went on to explain how he suffers from the exact opposite of this cliché, as many comedians do. Being acutely aware of things can provide for great comedy but it can also be a source of pain. Seeing things for how they really are, in some cases, can be difficult to deal with.

You know people, like I do, that somehow drift through life with a smile on their face no matter what circumstance they find themselves in. They may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but they appear happier than the most successful person you know - at least on paper. They could lose their job, have their girlfriend break-up with them and not have two nickels to rub together but they are, as they say, as happy as a clam. They are rarely shaken or moody and deep thoughts are not part of their daily routine.

It's hard not to be jealous of people that appear to be on happy juice all the time but, while being unaware of certain things in life may provide shelter for your soul, ignorance can be devastating. Recently, a longtime hobbyist told me a story about another collector whose ignorance came into play at a terrible time. If this story doesn't illustrate the importance of being informed, I'm not sure what will.

After years in this hobby, the collector in question decided it was time to finally sell his cards. It is always a tough decision but one that faces most of us at different times in our lives. This collector was very active up until the mid-1990s. In fact, most of his key cards were graded by PSA. So, towards the end of his active collecting days, you could argue that he was actually ahead of the curve since grading had not caught on quite yet.

This collector made a call to a local dealer, asking if the dealer would be interested in purchasing the collection. The dealer looked over the list of cards and expressed serious interest. He then asked the collector what he wanted for the PSA graded cards, many of which were high-grade vintage baseball cards. The collector responded by asking for "high-book" so the dealer assumed the collector was referring to SMR.

The collector quickly referred the dealer to the "high-book" prices in another publication for ungraded baseball cards! The dealer thought the collector was joking at first but quickly realized he was dead serious. The collector even gave the dealer a discount, about 10%, since it was for the entire group. When it was all said and done, the collector left thousands of dollars on the table. Once the collector was told of his mistake, by a fellow collector, it was too late.

Now some of you may be upset at the dealer in this situation. No matter how you or I feel about the behavior of the dealer, ignorance is not an excuse. This collector stopped paying attention to the market back in the mid-1990s, prior to SMR and other graded card price guides but it didn't require a great deal of effort to research market values prior to selling the cards now. There is plenty of information available but he chose to not do the work and he paid for it.

In this case, ignorance was not bliss... it was just plain reckless.

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.