I have nothing against those who have found a way to make a lot of money.
I can’t cut into a person’s body and fix something. I’m not smart enough to argue a case in front of a jury where the stakes are high. I’m not a brilliant businessman.
But I have to admit there is one overriding thought that comes to mind when I see the prices of high quality vintage sports cards and memorabilia in auctions these days.
I’m kidding–kind of. We’re not socialists. It’s no different than someone who can afford a Hummer vs. someone who buys a ’98 Chevy Malibu. If we all made the same amount of money, it would mean we’re not living in the society that we generally have come to like. It’s also a sad indictment of my own lack of ability to find a profession that pays really well.
But anyone without deep pockets who thought they could someday afford a mint condition Mantle card from the early 50s or piece together a respectable set of T206s–even without the big four–is now officially out of luck. Go ahead and look at the realized prices–what bidders are actually paying–for items in any of the major catalog sales.
It makes me concerned about the collecting hobby as a whole. It’s always been one where anyone can be involved because cards and other items vary so much in value. Still is, I guess, if you’re not fussy. But there was a time not that long ago when even even some very nice stuff was within reach of everyone with patience enough to save for it.
That’s no longer the case.
A Hall of Famer’s 1960s game worn jersey often sells for between $30 and $60,000 if everyone is convinced it’s real. Think about that. People in average communities have been known to live on that for a year.
It makes me wonder just how many very wealthy people are serious sports collectors when three auctions close within 72 hours of each other and probably generate tens of millions of dollars when you toss eBay into the mix. None of the auction houses suffered much in spite of our crummy economy, high gas and food prices and other escalating costs of living. It would seem to indicate that the stable of wealthy people buying this stuff is not only on the upswing, it’s exploding. I’m guessing, too, that the fact that many vintage cards and other pieces of sports history have actually outperformed the stock market is not lost on these folks.
There is disposable income out there. But if you don’t have a lot of it, you’d best be prepared to do a lot of settling when adding to your collection.