Companies that deal in collectibles and graded sports cards have to remain dispassionate. After all, this is a business. What might knock over the average collector has to be treated as an investment by a company.
Handling a graded Honus Wagner T-206 card would make an ordinary collector tremble — a friend got to hold one at last year’s National, and he confessed that his hands were shaking. But to Scott Alpaugh, vice president for Just Collect in Somerset, New Jersey, it’s just another day at the office.
“It’s no different than a guy who shoots nudes for Playboy,” Alpaugh joked. “After working around it for so long, he becomes numb to it.”
Perhaps so. But some of the sports card eye candy that Just Collect picked up recently during a swing through Florida should turn some heads.
A collector in the west-central Florida city of Largo contacted the company and worked out a deal to sell nearly 500 graded vintage and “modern vintage” (post 1980) cards, primarily rookies, and including many high-grade examples. The group included dozens of Hall of Famers and PSA 10-rated cards, especially from the last 30 years.
Many of the cards are already being sold via Just Collect’s weekly eBay auctions, the first batch closing Sunday night.
Up for grabs now are a 1963 Pete Rose graded PSA-7, a 1968 Johnny Bench (graded 8), a 1971 Topps Pete Rose PSA 8, a 1973 Mike Schmidt (8.5), a 1969 Reggie Jackson, 1970 Thurman Munson, both 1982 Topps Cal Ripken rookie cards in PSA 10 and 1989 Upper Deck Griffey Jr. rookies in BGS 9.5 and PSA 10. From the recent past come high grade certified autographed rookie cards of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.
Other cards from the collection will be sold in the weeks ahead including a PSA 10 Eddie Murray rookie card, numerous vintage stars and rookies and more of the ‘modern vintage’ material.
Better still, there is more where the current group came from.
“We are still working on purchasing two other portions of his collection,” Alpaugh said.
The seller’s identity is secret, but his story is a familiar one to sports card dealers. He is a man in his 50s who has a twin brother named Mike, who worked for 20 years as a builder for a cabinet-making company in Bristol, Tennessee. The company suddenly went out of business, and Mike is having trouble finding similar work in Bristol, which is a Southern mecca for furniture and cabinet builders.
The seller had collected cards since he was a 13-year-old in 1974, always baseball “with just a couple exceptions.” He began collecting graded cards in 1987 as an investment for retirement.
“I am sure I went about it the wrong way because I picked players I liked and not always who was popular,” he wrote to Just Collect in a testimonial the company has published on its website. “Baseball and baseball cards are still a passion for me and will always be.”
The money raised from selling the cards was to be used to send Mike’s two children through college. “They are great kids and deserve a chance to make a better life than we were afforded,” the seller wrote.
The seller went the eBay route at first, but finding work and running auctions proved to be a burden. He sent emails to several dealers, but he wasn’t happy with the offers he was receiving.
He believed that Just Collect’s price was fair, so the deal was made and the college funds are in the bank.
“It worked for both of us,” said Alpaugh, who helped prepare the cards for finding new homes as soon as possible. “It will be a relatively quick turnaround.”