|2011 Topps Tribute|
I don't think the monopoly, specifically, is the cause for higher prices. I think we're seeing a few things coming together at the right time.
Rookie and player interest is growing - Strasburg, Harper, Posey, Belt are all big names in the past couple of years, which we haven't seen in a little while. And with teams other than the usual suspects in the World Series this past year, there's probably a bit of growth in that area.
|Never mind Brandon Belt, where's the card for the person sitting on the bench?|
There are signs that the economy is getting better, and people feel safe in spending more disposable income in cards. Again, this increases demand.
With this increase in demand, there has been a drop in supply. The latest downswing hit hard starting around 2005, between the economy and overproduction. After the mess that was 2005, with the end of Fleer and the removal of Donruss from baseball, there was a return to normalcy. Remember 2005 Donruss Champions? Eight hits per box, for about $80. That's crazy. While Donruss was essentially dumping its excess relic/autograph stock, it's not too far off from the norm for the past couple of years before it. For $20, you could buy a blaster box and be guaranteed a hit. (Okay, so 2011 Topps blasters had a manupatch. It's not a hit. Sorry.)
I saw a rise in prices in relics and autographs a couple years ago, when Upper Deck and Topps were the only companies making products. Both companies really haven't focused on large numbers of hits per box (excluding those high-priced products like Tribute and Triple Threads).
These past two years have seen about half as many releases as the previous years. Even more so this year. While the removal of Upper Deck from the picture created a monopoly, the real issue is a decrease in available product. People went nuts for the flagship Topps because there is no Upper Deck. Tribute is doing so well because there is no Ultimate Collection, SP, or Sweet Spot. There's no Masterpieces, Goudey, OPC, or Goodwin Champions to go up against sets like Heritage, Gypsy Queen, and A&G. So even if there weren't more collectors or more puchases by collectors (maybe there isn't), there is less to buy.
Does Topps need to up production to meet demand? Why? If Topps ups the production run per set, it'll have the same problem we saw in the mid-80s. If they increase the number of sets produced, it is a repeat of the mid-90s. If they add more relics and autographs, it repeats the problems of the mid-00s.
|2005 Donruss Champions|
|1973 Topps High-Number Wrapper|