Taking My Hacks

How Much is it Worth?

Joe Orlando


It is the question you and I hear 100 times per day and the one question that is rarely answered correctly or honestly. We are all interested in this simple question. Understanding what something is worth gives buyers and sellers confidence in the very market they find themselves in. It helps keep the industry going.

Commerce tends to come to a grinding halt when market valuation becomes difficult because no one knows what to do. Just ask those who make a living in the real estate market. If you cannot establish the value of an item, the seller is reluctant to price it and the buyer is reluctant to take action. Thousands upon thousands of sports collectibles sell each day but, despite the huge number of transactions, one major question remains.

Do we ever really know what something is worth?

Well, you have heard the old saying... that something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. Ultimately, as much as we all hate to admit it, it is the truth. That being said, that is true of any market and of any product. If a piece of furniture is priced too high in a store, sales will be low. If a car is priced too high at a dealership, sales will be low. If an item is priced right or too low, that item may fly off the shelves in record time.

In the sports collectibles market, there are items that become relatively stable over time as a result of the sheer volume of sales and consistent demand. We can establish a range for items like these because of the substantial sales history that accompanies that item. For example, a 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle in PSA NM-MT 8 generally sells between $2,750 and $3,200. A single-signed Ted Williams baseball generally sells between $300 and $400. There are occasions where those items may sell outside of those ranges but we can provide a reasonable estimate based on a high volume of sales.

In the case of very rare or unique items, this becomes virtually impossible. How much is a game-used 1932 Babe Ruth road jersey or Turkey Red Cabinet (T3) Ty Cobb PSA NM-MT 8 worth? Of course, we can try to establish how much the item is worth by looking at any direct sales history or attempt to estimate the value based on comparable items that have sold in the past. It can be a difficult chore even when you apply reason to the valuation process. By the way, who said reason or logic had anything to do with this hobby?

The first message I would like to get across is that none of us "know" what an item is worth no matter how knowledgeable we consider ourselves or how much experience we have. We can estimate values using the knowledge, experience and intelligence we possess but "knowing" is a fallacy. We can believe, we can estimate and we can attempt to predict but that, in the end, is the only thing any human can do.

The second message here is that it's alright when we don't know for sure. We all get an uneasy feeling when we cannot establish what something may be worth because no one wants to feel like they are overpaying for something, that they are being taken advantage of. The only thing you can do is remind yourself that you are collecting, first and foremost, because it is fun. Collecting is something you enjoy doing. Making financial gains on sports collectibles, while it does happen quite often, should never be the primary objective. If it is, you are probably in the wrong hobby.


Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief