Vintage Buy of the Week: The National

At the National Sports Collectors Convention, the doors are open to the public from Wednesday through Sunday, but if you want to know when a lot of the big money transactions go down, the answer is Tuesday.

This week’s edition of the Vintage Buy of the Week isn’t about a new collection entering the market.  It’s about the buying and selling that you may not see in Cleveland.  For dealers, that means there is work to be done even before all of the booths are set up and merchandise unpacked.

“I think the best day to get in to town is Monday,” said Leighton Sheldon of Just Collect, Inc., which has a regular presence at the NSCC and other major shows.  “I have personally bought deals on the Monday before the National just by running in to fellow dealers in the hotel.  I think the best day to buy and look at the freshest material is Tuesday.  Wednesday is also great for looking at material as some dealers are not fully set up until Wednesday late morning.

vintage cards purchaseMake no mistake. The reason Sheldon and other dealers invest in new pairs of comfortable sneakers in the days leading up to the show is because they expect to be pounding the floor for all five days of the show, finding material, negotiating with dealers and collectors and finding those who might be interested in their own material.

Off the top of his head, Sheldon provided a variety of cards and collections he’s purchased at recent NSCC shows:

  • 1952 Topps Baseball Collection w/ Dozens of High #’s and Mickey Mantle
  • 1948 Leaf #1 Joe DiMaggio PSA 7
  • 1951 Bowman #1 Whitey Ford Rookie PSA 7
  • Over 100  vintage sets from the 1950’s & 1960’s
  • 1955 Bowman Football 5-cent Wax Pack
  • 1961 Topps Sports Cars Unopened Cello Pack Box
  • 1977 O-Pee-Chee Baseball Wax Box Case
  • 1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan Rookie (probably dozens)

Incredible finds do show up at the National occasionally.  At one National in Cleveland a decade ago, a complete factory-fresh set of 1915 Cracker Jacks was brought to the show floor and the 176 cards wound up in the hands of one of the hobby’s most prominent collectors.   Just Collect is offering $1 million to anyone who brings in a mint set to this year’s show.  They’ll also pay $1 million for a mint to gem mint 1952 Topps set or a mint Joe Jackson rookie card.  The odds may be long, but the National is one show where dealers want to buy as much as sell and promising big bucks is one way to garner attention.

If you’re a collector who is just looking to fill some holes in your want list or find some bargain priced cards and you don’t have access to the show before Wednesday, there are still deals to be had.

“I think as a patient collector you can get better deals on Saturday and early Sunday,” Sheldon explained.  “But it becomes a ghost town by early afternoon on Sunday and you certainly won’t have the same selection that was available earlier in the week.”

The show runs Wednesday, July 30-Sunday, August 3 at the I-X Center in Cleveland.

Just Collect sponsors our Vintage Buy of the Week.  They’re always in the market for vintage cards.  Looking to add to your collection?  They offer hundreds of fresh items via their weekly eBay auctions.