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Baseball Card Exchange

Baseball Card Lots Often Provide Big Bang for Buck

It’s an often overlooked category on eBay.  If you’re looking for a specific card, it probably won’t be your first choice.  If you’re filling out a set, chance are you’ll find one seller who has multiple singles that are on your list so you can get exactly what you need and get combined shipping.  However, the Baseball Card Lots for Sale category is one you should be monitoring on a regular basis.  It’s a potential gold mine of undiscovered gems and potential candidates for re-sale.

While some of your fellow bidders may blow past the lots that are offered in these listings, scared off by slightly higher shipping or minimum bids, you could stand to make some great buys on a regular basis by a willingness to make a slightly larger investment and showing some patience.

Lots come in all shapes and sizes.  Some sellers will put a group of five cards into a lot.  Others will sell a group of star cards.  Many will sell a large group of a few hundred cards.  Taking the time to examine those lots is what offers the best opportunity to score some bargains.

And why not?  Sellers know eBay is their only outlet for this type of material.

Unless we’re talking rare, early baseball cards, like T206 or even Goudeys and Play Balls, auction houses can’t devote the time or space in a catalog to such lots.  It just isn’t cost effective for them.   If sellers need or want to liquidate, eBay is usually where they go.   Breaking out a large group of cards into individual eBay listings, however, is time consuming.  It’s easier to simply sell them all in one fell swoop.  That’s where you swoop in.

When you browse the baseball card lots category, there are some things to keep in mind.  Look for a seller whose listing description is detailed and contains a few sample images.  Don’t be afraid to ask for more scans on a higher valued lot.  You’re trying to grab a bargain, but you also don’t want to get taken to the cleaners by bidding too high on a mystery lot that ends up being disappointing.

Look for opportunities to get your money back by finding cards inside the lot that you’re confident you can re-sell.  Many times, a lot of vintage cards includes multiple stars and/or high numbers.  By themselves, they’d sell for a premium to buyers looking for those specific cards.  As a group, you’ll get a better deal.  If you’re willing to buy the group and sell off what you don’t need—maybe providing a better description and better scans than the original seller—you might just wind up with cards for your sets that are essentially free.  Or, you might even make a few bucks if you’re really good at it.  High number lots are my favorite.  They  sell high by themselves, but you can often get them cheaper in groups, keep what you need and sell of these high demand cards you don’t.

Large lots offer the best chance to make a little on the re-sale, but smaller groups often go cheap because many buyers and bidders won’t want to waste time buying small groups of cards.  They feel it’s a waste of time to bid on 5 or 10 cards that won’t make much of a dent in their want list.  Buyers looking for singles won’t bother, believing the lot will sell for more than the single card they might be after.  Buy four or five of those types of lots at a good price, though, and you might wind up with a group of 30 or 40 cards that could be very popular to bidders just starting work on a set.

Don’t be afraid to ask the seller a question about the lot.  Chances are he’ll be glad someone is interested and will tell you what you need to know, especially if with just a couple of days left in the auction, he doesn’t have many bids.

Look for the “pick 50” or “pick 100” type of auctions for modern or larger older sets.  These sellers will let you choose from a list of cards they have, offering a very easy way to pick a bunch of cards off of your list without having to deal with cards you don’t want.  They’ll often be willing to sell you more if those 50 or 100 cards won’t complete your set.  Many times, those lots include star cards that you’d otherwise pay a premium for individually.

Sometimes, the sellers of cards in the ‘lots’ categories don’t know cards.  They’ve found them at a flea market, inherited them or bought them as part of an estate.  They just want to get rid of what they have.  Lots that haven’t been cherry picked are often the source of some great finds.  Sometimes they’ll slip past those using eBay’s search box because the seller misspells words or doesn’t know what years the cards are from.

Another reason to buy baseball card lots is that it’s just fun, especially when multiple years are part of the package.  If the seller doesn’t provide every detail but his price is right, it’ll be like opening a fresh box of packs.  That little air of intrigue can sometimes put a charge back into your buying habits.  There are 54,000 listings for baseball card lots on eBay right now, but you can sort them by a variety of different denominators, which makes it much easier to hone in on some potential deals.  Click here to check them out.

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

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