Collectible Conference Coming

Chicago will be home to a new kind of card and memorabilia convention that promises more discussion…and no autographs.

Most card shows these days are filled with dealer tables, corporate booths (if the show is big enough) and autograph guests. That wasn’t always the case, though. Hobby veterans will tell you that shows used to be called "conventions" and took on some of the qualities of an actual business convention.

There were seminars for experienced collectors and newbies, discussion groups, a few meetings and even an occasional news conference. That was in the 1970s and 80s. Now, with the sports memorabilia industry having blossomed into what some studies show to be a $1 billion per year market, some believe it’s time to put on an event that caters to high end collectors and also lends itself to things like business development programs for dealers.

Mastro Auctions and Auction Report have released details on their co-sponsorship of the Premier Collectibles Conference and Exhibition, slated to take place over a four-day period in April of this year.

Several major dealers and corporate entities will attend according to the PCCE web site.

Admission to all four days of the convention is free with online registration until February 29. After that date, admission tickets will cost $15 each per day.

The news release follows:

In 2001, Doug Allen, President and COO of Mastro Auctions and Ryan Friedman, owner of Auction Report, began exploring resources, information and issues that the rapidly evolving collecting industry would require as a result of its transformation from a primarily home-based, small time hobby to its current big business status. The result is the Premier Collectible Conference & Exhibition
(PCCE), which will be held April 17-20at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.

The goal of the PCCE is to bring serious collectors and the industry’s most respected sources together in a professional environment that reflects the current state of the collectible industry. Created to address topics, challenges, provide education and discuss trends in the collectible arena, the PCCE will be mutually beneficial to all participants.

“While most individuals still collect because it’s in their blood, the business end of the industry, especially when it comes to the high end, can no longer be ignored,” said Joe Orlando, President of Professional Sports Authenticators, a premier sports authentication firm. “With prices escalating and authenticity becoming an increasing concern, collectors spending big money want to know more about the sources they are dealing with and rightfully so. The PCCE will provide the ideal forum for this to occur.”

Marshall Fogel, a well-known sports collector agrees. "The PCCE is an important addition to the existing collecting shows, especially for the advanced collector," said Fogel. While Fogel admits that the existing shows do provide resources for all collectors and are extremely valuable, the PCCE will bring aspects that are equally as necessary, especially in today’s collecting environment. "When it
comes down to doing serious collecting business on an investment level, it would be advantageous to have the best of the best in one place. That’s what the PCCE will offer."

In addition to facilitating intimate interaction between collector and collectible source, the PCCE will bring collectible leaders together to enhance the perception of the industry. Most experts agree that the collectibles industry, like most industries, has some negative aspects and a few less than reputable players. But because of the industry’s explosive growth, the indiscretions of the few have had a tendency to overshadow the many positive developments overall. The PCCE will
function as a quasi think tank hosted by an elite group of collectible leaders on the forefront of the industry’s evolution who are actively committed to promoting its new professionalism, integrity and business acumen.

“For collectors and the masses, the PCCE will take much of the guess work out
of who is and isn’t a respected source in the collectible industry,” said Brian Drent of Mile High Card Company. "While many of us may be competitors at the conference we understand that by working with our esteemed peers at events such as these, we all benefit. By promoting what is positive about the collectible industry and tacking difficult issues head on we will ensure the professional path we pave today will serve us all well in the future.”

The four-day PCCE event will be limited to less than 100 exhibitors, which makes
up the nation’s top auction houses, dealers and authentication companies, to ensure a quality event and environment. The event will feature ample time and space to meet, buy, sell, consign and become better acquainted with the top industry sources. Major grading and authentication companies have agreed to provide onsite services for attendees. There will also be special exhibits of high-end items.

Round table discussions for the public will be conducted on topics such as graded cards, authentication, game used memorabilia and autographs, insurance of collectibles, and collecting tips. Several question and answer sessions with the industry’s top experts will also be held. Exhibitors will participate in special roundtable discussions geared specifically to their needs. Topics during these sessions will include advertising and overall marketing, technology, insurance, image improvement, and the state of the industry.

Allen observes that while the PCCE has been created to assist the collectible
industry adjust to its new big business role today and in the future, it is interesting to note that its basic concept behind it remains rooted in the past.

“During the collectible industry’s infancy, especially with sports items, it was
individuals who really understood and respected the material that would get together and work toward furthering their common passion,” said Allen. “When you think about it, that’s what the PCCE really is with an added emphasis on the business component. It’s often a nod and respect for the past that positions you well for success in the future.”