It might be a good time to be a buyer of old baseball cards.
I would not suggest putting your baseball cards back in the shoebox and sticking them in the closet in hopes your mother throws them away, but a couple of dealers I've exchanged e-mails with in recent weeks are concerned about the vintage market on eBay and at shows.
Prices are down, they say. Listing older cards used to be a slam dunk if you were looking to make a few bucks. Now, even high quality stuff is going cheap. Maybe not across the board, but it would seem that '60s and '70s material is off quite a bit. We see really, really nice commons that are 30 and 35 years old selling for a buck--or even going unsold.
I hope this isn't the case, but I wonder if the number of new collectors is slipping a bit in relation to the amount of material out there. eBay makes it so easy to list items and the bulk lister tools that have blossomed in the last few years have made it even easier. The baby boomers have now reached their mid-life eras or are close to it and if they haven't started finishing their long-lost boyhood sets they're probably not going to start. Rediscovering baseball cards isn't new any more.
The potentially good news is that auction houses have brought in some new buyers through their long advertising reach and old cards are still a bit of classic cool in most quarters. But it might be time to realize there are more nice cards from those eras than we once thought and adjust our expectations of their value.
If you've been waiting for an update on Global Authentication, you're not alone. The company's website is still just barely operating, but we understand the phones are now working in their new digs and they are communicating with collectors who call. We hope things turn out well and that the company emerges even stronger. Competition is good for everyone and we don't like to see any hobby business go through hard times.
They've got a long way to go, though. When you disappear for any reason with little or no explanation, it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of your customers--and plenty of questions from potential customers.
The hobby is amazingly ripe with managers who have a poor or very limited sense of public relations. GAI is not alone in that regard, however. There are plenty of businesses and dealers who just can't seem to see the big picture. I got an e-mail this week from someone who had a very nice old autographed baseball he was looking to sell and wanted advice on what to do with it since he had been to a card show in Philadelphia and after trying to talk with some folks behind the tables was so disappointed he was hoping there were at least a couple of companies out there who were somewhat professional. We hopefully steered him in the right direction.