Taking My Hacks

It Takes More than Money

Joe Orlando

There are collections and then there are collections: the kinds of collections that pack the "wow" factor. When hobbyists learn about these types of collections and see the museum-quality contents that reside within them, the common response is that all it took to reach those heights was money and lots of it. While money certainly plays a big role in acquiring the best of the best, it often takes more than just money.

If we are discussing individual items, ones that come up for public sale at auction, then the acquisition of those individual items simply comes down to which person is willing to spend the most by bidding the highest, at that given time, for the item. Lone acquisitions are not what I am referring to in this article. I am talking about the assembly of an entire collection, the effort it takes to build a collection of high-quality items within a particular genre.

Anyone can amass a quantity of collectibles, given the right bank account. Anyone can buy at random and simply wait for the auction catalogues to show up at their front door. Anyone can own an assortment of marquee items as long as they possess the financial wherewithal to do so. It takes persistence, research, knowledge, time and focus to put together a true collection of items that relate to one another and help complete the assigned theme, to bring the collection closer to being whole.

Since I have been in the hobby, first as a young collector and later as an employee of PSA, I have had the privilege of meeting many of the hobby’s top collectors. There is no question that most of them make way more money than you or I do but many of them are not only invested from a financial perspective, they are invested in the endeavor itself.

In order to build a great collection, you have to be committed. You have to implement a plan and spend serious time in order to reach certain goals. What would surprise many hobbyists is that most of the top items trade privately and do not end up in auction. Yes, there are lots of top-quality cards, autographs, bats, jerseys, trophies, rings and other memorabilia that do end up in auction, which allows for the world to take their shot. That said, most top notch items never make it to auction.

Why? Some buyers and sellers prefer the certainty of private transactions. There are also other attractive aspects to private transactions, as there are strong arguments supporting why certain items are better suited for auction. The point I am trying to make here is that some of the best items are sold with one phone call, meaning that you and I never see them and never have an opportunity to even make an offer for them. As a collector, if you are not on top of things or know the right people, you will rarely get a shot.

On the other hand, some collectors like the "comfort" of bidding in an auction, the idea that there are other collectors bidding on the same item too. So, opportunities like the one mentioned above may not appeal to them. In order to buy privately and take advantage of great opportunities, you have to know what you are buying and have the confidence to do it. This takes effort.

The bottom line is that collectors, even the ones that make more money in a year than I will make in my lifetime, deserve credit because it takes more than money to assemble a truly great collection. You have to work at it and be persistent but the work pays off.

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.