Taking My Hacks

Don't Abandon the Hunt

Joe Orlando

The hobby is a lot different today than it was 20-30 years ago. Great items would almost routinely make their way into trade shows during the 1980s. The industry was booming and the level of nationwide interest in collecting was surging towards new heights. As the years went by, things changed. The Internet came along and, along with it, came information and connectivity between people.

As the popularity of shows declined, so did the overall popularity of printed publications. There was a time when magazines and price guides were plentiful, but today, only a handful remain and the majority of the current publications are not distributed in any meaningful manner. The Internet can be a wonderful thing, but it impacted the need for shows. As a result, there aren't nearly as many opportunities for large gatherings as there used to be.

Slowly but surely, a noticeable decline in fresh material became apparent. Some of that can be attributed to the decline in show interest, but not all. The reality is that truly great material isn't plentiful. That's part of what makes great material so great to begin with. As Jimmy Dugan (played by Tom Hanks) said about playing baseball in the movie A League of Their Own, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great."

Great items are hard to find, and always will be. It's the catch-22 that I and my fellow collectors deal with every auction season. There's a part of you that becomes frustrated when there are no great items to buy, at least ones that are on your personal list. There's another part of you, however, that rejoices in that same fact because it reaffirms how great some of the items in your own collection are. You end up having a better appreciation for what you have versus focusing on what you don't have.

Massive trading card finds are not as common as they once were. New memorabilia discoveries are happening less frequently these days. Even non-hobbyists hear about the record prices paid for stellar items. We are in the information age. More and more people know what the stuff is worth or at least have some idea... enough of an idea to keep their eyes open.

All of the above being said, there are still hidden gems out there. They may be harder to find, requiring a much more concentrated effort to unearth, but great items remain in the form of buried treasure. They may be hidden in older collections where the collector became disconnected from the hobby at some point in the past. They may be resting comfortably in the estate of a former athlete. They may be hiding in the attic like "The Black Swamp Find" of recent memory.

They are not Bigfoot, or another nonsensical myth that simply doesn't exist (sorry Bigfoot fans). They are real. They might be harder and harder to come by as time goes on, but they are out there waiting for the next collector to care for them and preserve them for future generations. Both the collector and the dealer are faced with this challenge, but there is no reason to abandon the hunt because you never know what you might find. That is why so many reality shows are based on the concept today. It's the hope that keeps people intrigued.

It may not be easy to find that next great piece, but it wouldn't be fun if it was.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief