The hobby has seen a lot of 'new money' in 2012. With several auctions receiving immense mainstream media attention, several fans and some investors have taken notice in the variety that exists in the world of sports cards and sports memorabilia. They've jumped into the hobby for the first time, whether it's bidding on one of those famous lots or something more economical.
Unfortunately, while they find that the hobby looks like fun, they don't always know how to build a meaningful collection. In the last of a ten-part Q&A with auction company representatives, we asked If someone is trying to build a nice collection of cards and memorabilia but isn’t sure where to start, what do you tell them?
Here's what they said:
Steve Bloedow, Collect Auctions: "It really starts with a discussion about what they like and don’t like, budget, purpose, etc. Vintage cards do it for some and do nothing for others. Some collectors like autographs, some don’t. You really have to find out what interests the collector and what kind of budget they have. It’s also important to know if it’s an investment or something to display. This hobby has so many different ways to go that there are items for everyone regardless of budget."
David Hunt, Hunt Auctions: "I always advise clients to buy what they love first. The cost and value are important but it is never a good purchase if you did not enjoy buying it."
J.P. Cohen, Memory Lane: "I always recommend to new collectors that they buy authenticated items by reputable authenticators and dealers. I also recommend that they buy the best items they can afford. In fact I would rather see someone buy one high grade collectible then five mid-grade items. Buy the best and you’ll never go wrong. Its simple “supply and demand rule”…you buy something truly rare and there always will be someone that wants it."
David Kohler, SCP Auctions: "We find that when we can get clients focused on a certain category they're going to be more passionate about it and have more fun. A lot of it is about the search. When they’re buying things all over the map and don’t have a plan, a lot of those aren’t long term customers. If customers find they can build a world class collection in a certain category, though, I think they become long term clients who enjoy building a collection. You can’t go into it thinking you got a great deal. Being educated and learning how to go about how to do it makes it more fun. At the end of the day it’s about having fun with the hunt. If you build a collection that’s one of the best in a certain area, you know that you’ve done something pretty special that you can’t just go out and write a check for."
Leighton Sheldon, Just Collect: "I would tell them to follow what they like in the marketplace for 30 days before buying anything."
Rob Lifson, Robert Edward Auctions: "I’d tell them to take their time and do a little reading before they jump in. If you are interested in vintage cards, get Lew Lipset’s “Encyclopedia of Baseball Cards” series, get Bob Lemke’s “The Standard Catalog”, and read old auction catalogs - especially REA catalogs. If you are interested in memorabilia, that covers a lot of ground. That’s pretty much everything that is not a card!
The advice is still the same: do a little reading, get a sense of what exists that you are interested in and what the market is for – or at least has been in the past – for what you are interested in , and get a sense of what issues should be of concern to a buyer. Autographs and game-used equipment are a couple areas of memorabilia collecting that require a little more collector interaction and opinion. The reason is that experts can have different opinions on the same item and every autograph and bat and jersey is really, to some extent, unique. There’s no limit to how much there is to learn about cards and memorabilia. We’re still learning every day! That’s part of the excitement and appeal of the collecting world."