10 Questions With Auction House Execs: What are Newcomers After?

We sent a series of ten questions about what’s hot, what’s next, where the hobby has been and where it’s headed to several auction company executives and for the next couple of weeks, we’re sharing their answers with you, one at a time.

Yesterday, they discBabe Ruth rookie card 1914ussed the unprecedented level of mainstream media coverage the hobby has had this year and its impact.  Many said it brought some new blood into the hobby–fans who became collectors and investors.

So what exactly is it those newcomers are looking at?

J. P. Cohen, Memory Lane:  For us,  the new collectors seem to be gravitating toward rare and high grade memorabilia and cards.

Steve Bloedow, Collect Auctions  It really depends on what they are interested in. Some don’t know the history and enter the market by purchasing cards or autographs of current players. Others enter the hobby from an interest in history and go straight to vintage cards or autographs. There are plenty of entry points and we try to have a wide assortment of items to appeal to a larger audience.

David Hunt, Hunt Auctions: In our opinion the exposure of  the hobby into the mainstream  media is less about specific categories but rather pertains to driving interested parties into the marketplace with the means to begin a sports collection.

Rob Lifson, Robert Edward Auctions:  Cards have always been the anchor of our collecting landscape, especially when dealing with early baseball history, and we don’t see that changing. But in modern times (over the past twenty years) it is undeniable that a growing interest has been seen in autographs, game-used equipment (such as jerseys and bats) and  memorabilia in general. These types of items each have their own challenges with reference to authentication, but Kirk Gibson signed game used items 1988 World Serieseven with all the landmines out there, collectors love autographs and game-used items. Companies like Steiner Sports, in particular, make collecting modern game-used items possible. Buying a game-used jersey from Steiner may not be cheap, but it’s real, and that gives new collectors the confidence that they are getting what they pay for. This wasn’t always possible.

David Kohler, SCP Auctions:  I think in the last six months for us, it’s really both high grade cards and memorabilia from great players.  We handled the Dmitri Young collection of super scarce PSA 10 rookie cards.  People will step up to pay for great pieces that there may be only one of.   Some think Pete Rose items are dead but we set a record for the PSA 10 rookie card we had in our auction. It’s the same with memorabilia whether it’s a Babe Ruth game worn hat,  Dr. J’s ABA championship ring or Kirk Gibson’s bat that he used to hit the home run in the 1988 World Series.  People like things that are scarce and historic.   Those are very strong drivers.

Leighton Sheldon, Just Collect:   Their interests can be all over the board from $5 cards to $50,000 PSA 10’s.  High end clientele, though, generally covet the best of the best.

Up next:     What part of the market is hottest right now?  What specific type of items do you hope are on the other end of the line when people call with consignments?