The sports card and memorabilia auction business had a pretty good year last week.
The world may still be enveloped by a raging pandemic that’s decreasing our population in record numbers, but the appetite for tangible connections to athletes and athletic history seems immune to it all. The latest played out in the auction market: $52.9 million spent in six major auctions from December 10-16.
Not that long ago, there would have been complaints that having a half dozen major auctions all ending in the space of seven days was a recipe for disaster. If there was too much stuff and not enough cash to spend, it wouldn’t be good for anyone. That doesn’t seem to be a problem right now. Collectors and investors with capital burning holes in their accounts essentially shrugged their shoulders at the mountain of colorful catalogs that piled up like dishes after Thanksgiving and only wished there was more.
Mind you, the numbers are just from that seven-day period. The totals don’t even include the $10.2 million and 3,400 items sold by Robert Edward Auctions back on December 7. They don’t include the millions spent on eBay or other ecommerce sites, in smaller online auctions or the non-trackable dollars spent via Facebook groups or in hobby shops.
The majority of the trading cards sold may have roots in North American-based sports, but the money does not. Auction companies tell us they’re seeing more international bidders than ever before, some from smaller countries who are spending tens of thousands of dollars on cards and keeping them stored here.
Not all of the items sold are items that cost more than your house, though. While the average cost of an item sold at auction during that stretch was somewhere around $6,000, all of the sales were full of cards and smaller collectibles that were available for $100-$500.
It’s safe to say it was the biggest week the sports auction business has ever had. As a whole, the hobby is ending this crazy year looking like Scrooge McDuck diving into a big pile of money.
If you bought something in one of those auctions, congratulations on your winning bid. You’ve now got a little place in collecting history.
And time to reload for the next round.