In the 1970s and 80s, sports card dealers and avid collectors would rent hotel rooms across the country, placing local newspaper ads offering to buy sports cards and collectibles. It was an era when the concept of sports stuff being worth money was still fairly new. With the internet, research is much easier and finding great collections is much harder.
But that doesn’t stop them from trying even today.
Topps moved its production facility to Duryea in the mid-1960s and it wasn’t uncommon for employees to bring home items for their kids or young relatives who collected. If a former Topps employee comes in this weekend with something Lelands can use, Evans says he’ll pay a 10% bonus.
“This is what people potentially have in their basements and garages and attics and closets,” company founder Josh Evans told Times-Tribune columnist Donnie Collins. “This is the kind of stuff we want.”
Of course, it’s not just modern era material dealers and auction houses hope “walks in” to such events.
Evans recalls a trip to Boston years ago when an old-time collector named Paul waltzed in and literally tossed three cards on the table in front of him: a T206 Honus Wagner, Eddie Plank and Sherry “Magie” error card. An experienced hand, Evans knew from examining them that they were indeed the real deal.
“I just looked at him. I was literally stunned. I couldn’t move. Like, I was in electric shock treatment for that moment. I just looked at them, then looked up and said, ‘Where did you get these?’ ”
At the time they were worth about $150,000. “Paul” didn’t sell to Lelands that day but did come back and consign the cards years later and that’s part of the reason “road shows” exist. Even if families or individuals aren’t ready to part with their goods after hearing the company’s pitch, a relationship has been established and maybe someday they’ll decide the time is right to lidquidate.
It’s often a disappointment to sellers when they find out their items aren’t worthwhile but for those on the buying end, the fun part is the mystery that always unfolds when the doors open and the bags are emptied.