Some collectors like cards with patches or jersey swatches. Others prefer the whole enchilada.
On the final day of The Mint Collective in Las Vegas Sunday, the opening panel saw SCP Auctions’ David Kohler, top collector Justin Cornett, Leaf’s Brian Gray and Beckett’s Steve Grad discussed the memorabilia market and benefits. They cited the one-of-a-kind nature of game-used pieces, improvements in authentication and storage methods, the stories behind items from specific games or players and a belief that memorabilia largely remains underpriced.
“When you hold an item that a player used to determine where they are you get chills,” said Cornett, who has diligently researched many of the items he’s purchased and photo-matched some of them, thus increasing their value and desirability. “When you look at a card, it’s cool but it’s not the same and that’s why I slowly started shifting my portfolio to memorabilia.
“In stocks you get money in two ways: capital appreciation or dividends. Sports memorabilia and cards don’t produce dividends, so you have to be astute and smart enough to know what is really not priced right, and right now [memorabilia] is still very underpriced.”
Kohler, who owns the world’s best collection of Lakers memorabilia and has been working in the industry for decades, said buyers often start in cards and move to memorabilia.
“I remember 25 years ago when eBay came into the business, I was worried about my business and thinking all of our clients were going to go to eBay. Looking back, that was one of the best things that’s happened for our business because it brought more eyeballs, more people worldwide buying things, whether it was for $50,000 or $5,000. Their first purchases were on eBay but later as they became more sophisticated, they ended up dealing with people like us. It’s all bringing new clients and people into our market.”
Gray has been known to go on spending sprees when he feels items are undervalued.
“I recognize mispriced assets. This category is kind of unchartered waters because there aren’t any comparisons. I buy dead stock no one wants and I know that 10 years from now those assets are [growing] by 10, 20, 30, 50 times. You don’t see that opportunity in cards to really find these heirloom underpriced assets because there are too many smart guys who’ve done it for too long.”
He said it’s not necessarily the decades-old material that collectors should always focus on.
“I’m more interested in newer assets. We can’t underestimate this new generation. The people who grew up watching ‘90s baseball, they’re going to live another 30 or 40 years and they’re richer than any generation ever. That’s who’s going to buy these assets. There’s incredible demand, incredible wealth and worldwide interest.”