We spend quite a bit of time talking about the “good old days” of the hobby but one should realize not everything was better years ago. Sometimes the past can’t compete with the present.
There’s no debate that the dissemination of information is much better and more efficient than it once was. There was a time when everyone waited for the new Beckett magazine(s) to come out to set the prices of cards. And one of the best examples was evident at one of those old Willow Grove shows 25 years ago this month.
The show came the weekend the newest Beckett Baseball issue had arrived and you could tell from walking around the room which dealers had already received the magazine. They were the ones buying cards from those dealers who either had to travel a decent distance to the show and missed the delivery or those who lived in an area where they would not receive their copy for another day or so.
There was a definitive difference in when the Beckett magazines arrived at stores. Because of where they were shipped, the Texas stores were receiving their copies on Wednesday while East Coast stores would not receive their magazines until possibly the following Monday. That gave some dealers, especially those with access to SportsNet, a major buying advantage.
Knowledge is power and during a time when card values—new and old—were changing fast, knowing the latest price was a big deal. Now, of course, pricing is online and whether you use Beckett or look up ‘sold’ items in an eBay search, everyone can have virtual up-to-the-minute access and pricing is a little less arbitrary.
The internet also has expanded the available information base for all types of sports collectibles as collectors share their knowledge online and they can do so on a variety of platforms. It’s a more permanent record, too, than relying on newsletters or magazines that might get discarded.
There are many more products available for storing and displaying cards and memorabilia than there once was. No matter what size your items are, you can probably find a holder for it.
Another positive change is the awareness of which players might be good long-term investments. In the 1980’s, I remember selling cards of “prospects’ that never were which included such luminaries as Jim Walewander and Len Matuszak. Today, no one would buy cards of 30-year-old rookies except when they just want to have one or two Guilder Rodriguez cards as a memory of the career minor leaguer’s shining moment during the end of the 2014 season.
Grading has made a huge impact and whether you’re a proponent or someone who doesn’t care for it, the option is there for those who’d rather not rely on the advice of a seller regarding the condition or authenticity of a card or collectible.
And of course, as long as you have access to a computer, there is an unprecedented number of cards available. You used to have to depend primarily on your local shows, shops or answering ads in printed publications to add to your collection, but today venues such as eBay, COMC, Beckett Marketplace and other outlets give you access to millions of cards 24/7. Selling is also easier and more efficient for the little guy because the number of options available.
The online shopping options have also made collecting widely available to many people who may not have had the chance or knew enough to buy cards the old-fashioned ways. A greater variety of available cards and a worldwide audience that can garner knowledge and become involved quickly is good for all concerned, isn’t it?
What else is better these days? Let me know via the email address below.