By now, you probably heard about Curt Schilling’s Estate Sale. While Mr. Schilling has had his financial problems in recent years, estate sales such as the one that took place at his home over the weekend are a part of life and still a way for potential profit.
If I ran a card company, I would make sure a representative went to the estate sale. The reason for going is to buy clothing or other player-owned items, usually at a reduced price, that you can verify as originating with that person. Having such provenance will make it easier to write less ambiguous language on the back of a card plus a collector would feel more comfortable owning that item.
While there weren’t any historic game-worn treasures in the sale, I did notice photos of caps that looked to be possibly game worn as well as at least one t-shirt which said Schilling. At sales like this it’s possible there could be other items that could be utilized in memorabilia cards or promotions as well and a trained representative could do well. Even if the baseball-related memorabilia is pulled out, there might still be nuggets of items from which one can make a profit.
Several years ago while working at Beckett, I remember getting an email from a friend of mine about the Tex Schramm estate sale and I alerted Dan Hitt, our Football Price Guide Editor. We both trudged down to a real nice part of town to enter the sale. I picked up a couple of signed books, one I remember was by Hall of Famer Jim Finks who was not an easy signature, while Dan purchased some early Cowboys schedules and a couple of other things. While both of us hoped to find more items for our collections; neither of us were totally surprised when we saw pieces of a Tex Schramm jacket on a football card scant months later.
This means one should always look into outlets to buy cards and memorabilia outside the standard sources. There is, of course, nothing wrong with going to a show or a store to purchase cards or memorabilia but to me this was a good reminder about the myriad of ways collectible items can be found. I have read newsgroups threads about collectors buying items at thrift stores, pawn shops or other seemingly non-card related ways to buy items. Remember Aaron Rodgers’ draft day suit? It wound up at a Goodwill store in Green Bay where it was discovered by a collector who consigned it to Heritage Auctions. There is always a way to find new items.
For card collectors, has there even been an auction season such as Fall 2013? Recently, I had one of my “hobby lunches” with Net 54 Owner/Operator Leon Luckey who was commenting about just how many auctions there are these days. A collector probably needs both hands, both feet and a few additional counting tools to keep track of all the auction houses. There is always room for another good auction house but not all of them are likely to survive. The rise in the auction house number is somewhat similar, albeit on a lower level, to the card dealer growth of the late 1980’s-early 1990’s. Eventually the best dealers survived and the others closed up shop at some point. I suspect that will happen to some of these auction houses.
However, in many ways, auctions are somewhat similar to the real old days of the hobby. If you ever really read an Trader Speaks or an Sports Collectors Digest from the mid-late 1970’s you will see a preponderance of auctions as the hobby price structure was not yet settled. Of course when the first Beckett books came out in 1979 there began to be a price normalcy. That really calcified when the CPU monthly price guide began being released in 1979 which culminated with the incredible success of the Beckett magazines selling more than 1 million copies per month back in the hobby heyday.
Having a price structure made it easier to go the sale route but in today’s world we are returning, based a bit on the eBay model, to an auction hobby. Either way, collectors and dealers will continue to adjust and move forward in their collections. Whatever makes you most comfortable in buying and selling cards is the way to go to we encourage you to find your own comfort level.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]