Taking My Hacks

No One Has a Crystal Ball

Joe Orlando

As hobbyists, we often wonder if our purchases are sensible. That is an expected concern anytime someone opens their wallet. Most of us realize that there are no guarantees, in this business or otherwise, when it comes to investing wisely. That said, a fairly large group of collectors seem to believe that some sort of mystical crystal ball exists, making it easy for the likes of you and me to see far into the future.

The reality is that no such crystal ball exists.

If it did, then I would be living on an island somewhere, bathing myself in Cristal each day. I am sure that is a visual all the readers could have done without. My apologies... but I think you get the point. We live in a society that seems to think there are a select group of people out there that can predict the outcomes of things like stock prices, real estate swings, metals markets or even the result of a football game. The truth is, no one can.

In those worlds and others, knowledgeable people make their best guesses when trying to predict outcomes. They compile data, look for trends and rely on their experience to make the most educated guesses they possibly can, but at end of the day, it is still just a guess. Sometimes, when you see these people on television and listen to the sound of their voice, they project an unwavering level of confidence. They almost sound certain of their predictions, but nothing is certain.

How many times have you heard this one: "If I buy this, is it a good investment?" I am asked this question constantly. As a fellow collector, I completely understand the urge to ask that question, I really do, but how does anyone know - for certain - if something is a "good investment"? Again, we can apply all the knowledge we have and all the research we can muster, but being able to accurately predict the future is impossible for anyone to do.

Of course, I have plenty of opinions just like a lot of other people do, such as football analysts who make their picks each week. Even the best football analysts in the world get it wrong. They may guess right 70%, 80% or even 90% of the time, but they still don't actually know the result until the game is over. How many people did you hear talk about the real estate market during the housing bubble in the mid-2000s, as if there were only one direction the market could go? There were plenty of arrogant and delusional claims being made during that time.

All we can do is arm ourselves with the most, and best, information possible by conducting research, paying close attention to market shifts and asking questions of others who have experience and a great eye for quality. That is the best we can do. The good news is that it has never been a better time to be a collector. There is more information available than ever before, and that's a good thing. It is very simple. Collectibles, like everything else, go up or down in value based on the supply and demand dynamic at the time. There is no magic formula, palm reader or fairytale creature that can provide the answers.

We may not be able to predict the future, but we can try to make the best financial decisions possible by making sure we are informed before we spend... even without a crystal ball.

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.