Even with our change in scenery (a move from Chicago area to Branson, MO area) we have found that some things in the baseball hobby do NOT change. Perhaps one of the largest universal realities, it seems, is the abundance of people who wish to sell us their collections of “really old” baseball cards…from the 1985 to 1999 time frame. Granted, the earlier cards are beginning to push 30, but if you are aware of hobby reality at all you know the vast majority of these cards hold little to no value…and even less desire among collectors.
Yet, that does not mean every baseball item produced in that time frame is worthless or undesirable. Indeed, there are even some cards in those sets that we should be glad to have in our collections (rookie cards of guys named Griffey, Jr., Glavine, Maddux, Thomas and other come to mind). And, if you know what you are looking to find, there were some nice baseball collectibles minted in that era.
We use the term “minted” on purpose as the item we are considering right now is a silver medallion commemorating some of baseball’s all-time greats. In particular we highlight the Duke Snider (as we still have one in possession)., but this particular set of silver collectibles actually honored nine diamond heroes according to the “checklist” provided on an order form that came with each medallion. It is interesting to note that only one active player of 1992 was commemorated in silver, and that was Ken Griffey, Jr., who was only in his third year of major league baseball. The complete list from the order form is as follows:
- Johnny Bench
- Yogi Berra
- Ken Griffey, Jr.
- Willie Mays
- Joe Morgan
- Pete Rose
- Duke Snider
- Ted Williams
- Carl Yastrzemski
These medallions were produced in 1992 and were officially called “Stars Showcase Series for Baseball Commemorative Medallions.” It appears that they were only minted in that year as all extant copies bear that 1992 copyright on the folder.
These keepsakes were cast in a medallion of. 999 silver (about 3/4 ounce), sealed in plastic, and then presented in a glossy cardstock folder which also bore a specially commissioned illustration featuring the player on the medallion. The folder was also stamped with a serial number to match the number etched into the coin’s edge. The total number minted does not seem to have been released.
As mentioned above, each medallion came with a separate order form that provided the checklist of all players available, and an 800# through which other medallions could be ordered. Here is what the certification says:
“Encased,. 999 silver medallion features a replica of the player and his signature, player’s name, identifying city, two statistics and year of issue. Commemorative medallions were developed by Frank Gasparro, former Mintmaster of the U. S. Mint for 16 years, and sculptor of the reverse of the Kennedy Half Dollar and Lincoln Memorial Cent. Each medallion comes with individual serial number on its edge to emphasize authenticity.”
As with many of the baseball items from that point of time, these silver medallions were sold primarily through the Home Shopping Network. Unlike many of the trinkets produced in those years, however, these items actually have fluctuated in their value more along the lines of the silver market in recent years rather than according to baseball collectible content.
Using eBay as a barometer the medallions do not garner a great price when put up for auction. The last week of March and first of April, 2014, found more than a half dozen of the coins selling in the range of $18-$25 when placed for auction. However, others sold through eBay stores as Buy It Now items seem to sell for closer to $40-$45 or even more. In addition, several of these medallions are sold online by various coin dealers, and they do not hesitate to ask upwards of $75 a piece for these items. Frankly, I am inclined to believe this says more about the ups and downs of using auctions rather than what it reveals about the value of these medallions. Indeed, with the current price of silver, it would be a great move to pick up all the medallions at their original price of $19.75 each. You can see them on eBay here.