Taking My Hacks

The Next Level is Here

Joe Orlando

For years, hobbyists have been discussing the potential of the high-end sports card and memorabilia market, wondering when the next major jump in values would occur. Well, I am here to tell you that after evaluating many of the prices recorded in the latest slew of auctions and confirming some pretty hefty private sales, the next level has arrived.

What may be even more telling is what sales didn't occur over the past few months, all because sellers are now rejecting unprecedented offers for various types of items. Some of the rejected offers have been so high that, if I were to reveal some of them in this piece, you simply wouldn't believe me, and for two reasons: first, because the figures are so strong and, second, because it's shocking that some owners are refusing to accept those offers.

There are several reasons why this seems to be happening over the past year or so. You have probably noticed that the hobby has received more mainstream coverage, and mostly positive at that, in recent times. This exposure has helped encourage new people-and specifically those with spending power-to either rekindle their love for the hobby or begin their journey for the very first time. These new collectors see what's happening in the market, and they want to be a part of it.

In addition, some of the collectors who have entered the market as of late are not only bringing a new level of spending power to the table but also a different collecting approach, one that is distinct from that which some major collectors have taken in the past. It is not uncommon for collectors to change their focus every so often, and as a result, they are constantly reintroducing the same material to the marketplace.

While this may not be true of all collectors, it does seem to be fairly common. One reason that the content of some collections changes often is that most collectors have to trade or sell one great item in order to acquire another, perhaps one they desire more. This is true for even some of the most prominent collectors in the hobby. That is not the case, however, with the new breed of power collectors. I have had the pleasure of meeting several of them, and their approach is different. A big part of it is due to the fact that they are in a very strong financial position; and if they don't want to, they simply don't have to sell in order to acquire something else. Furthermore, they seem to have a more focused approach or defined collecting goal from the outset.

The end result is that the items they are purchasing now have a greater likelihood, in my opinion, of getting buried for a longer period of time than what we are used to seeing. You couple that with the realization of just how rare some of these items are, at least in the quality that we are talking about, and you can see why this market surge is happening so quickly. An unprecedented number of items sold in excess of $100,000 at auction this spring. The same thing can be said of items in the $500,000+ range, both publicly and privately.

It is a great sign for the increasing appeal and health of the high-end market. For those collectors who own this type of material, it certainly must feel good to know that the demand has increased and so too has the value of their holdings. That is the good news. The bad news is that it has clearly become more difficult for people, even those with fairly strong spending power, to compete.

We shall see where the market heads over the next few years; however, one thing is certain, the next level is here.

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.