It's tough to talk with non-collectors about baseball cards. They just don't understand.
I'm not talking about the standard "how can you spend so much time and effort on something like that" response. We already have our answers for that discussion, and that in itself is a whole other post.
My aunt and uncle are in town, and if you remember my posts from yesterday, there was discussion of card value. I've thought of insurance several times in the past decade or so, even since well before I moved out of my mother's house into an apartment of my own. What would happen if I lost everything?
What would I lose? What would I want to replace? What are my "assets" worth?
Many of you are probably the same as me in this respect: trading cards aren't the only thing I collect. I have gigs of digital collections - music, photos, and videos, family and personal files, etc. I have souvenirs from my travels and the events I attended, plus hundreds of baseball trinkets. I have a small collection of books, mostly baseball.
In storage, I have clothes, furniture, and housewares. I took my entire life, and shoved most of it in a cube and left it as I crossed the country.
But what would it cost to replace my life?
The digital files would be gone forever. I'm horrible about backing up my images, videos, and mp3s, but I know I'll be leaving a backup here before heading to Japan (maybe leaving backups in two places out here).
As for the household goods and furniture, I'm not attached to any of it. There is monetary value attached to such things, but I don't have "nice things" when it comes to basic living necessities. I could refurnish my entire life (furniture, clothes, and housewares) for $7500 or less.
But then I come back to my collections. Really, my collectibles are the only things in my life that I can't bring myself to get rid of, and I can't take with me to Japan.
The discussion a couple days ago was about what it would cost to replace my collection. What is the monetary value of all those trinkets, game-used jersey cards, 1990 Donruss singles, books, movie wardrobe items, etc? I threw a number out there - $200,000.
How realistic is that number? I'm sure it's way too high. But I threw that number out there as a talking point.
What if I was to sell off part of my collection? If my cards are worth $200,000, surely there is money to be made there selling off a portion of my cards. Perhaps I could sell a portion of my cards and have a few thousand dollars! Well, you know that isn't going to happen.
Take the above Josh Willingham card from my collection. It's a $12 card, if you look at high Beckett value. That would probably be an insured value (and makes a number like $200,000 make a lot of sense very quickly, when you add up all those $8-12 "common" jerseys in your collection). How much did this card cost me? I'm not entirely sure, but I'll guess I bought it for $1 + $3 shipping on eBay, as did most of my cards similar to this. This makes my cost $4 - a good deal for a $12 card. But let's say I want to turn around and sell my Josh Willingham card. How much will I get for it? A buck.
I could probably list it on eBay as a Buy-It-Now for $5 and hope I get a sale, or ship it to COMC and do the same, but realistically I'm not going to even get my full $4 back, unless I'm patient enough to wait several months or more for the right buyer. Stores work on this philosophy, and it's why they can charge high book for a card like this.
This is where people who don't collect get lost. I had to explain that while I had lots of cards, and value-wise it might be worth a lot, there's no way I could get that kind of money back selling back to other collectors. And even though it would cost me $4 to replace the Willingham, I could never expect to get $4 back for it.
I used the following analogy. My uncle loves to read, and let's say he buys a book for $10. Let's say over the years he buys more and more books, for $10 each, and then he has 1000 books, all worth $10 each - $10,000. He couldn't then sell those for $10 each again. He could hope to get $5 each for them, but it would be tough going. He might get $1 or $2 a book. But if his books were lost in a fire or flood, it would cost him $10,000 to replace those books.
I referenced the "trade bait" post I made a few days ago. While there were nearly 100 jerseys, autographs, and low-numbered parallels, I'm not going to see $100 for them. Most of you are trading for them (which is fine), and those who are buying are getting the cards pretty cheap. If I listed on eBay, I'd end up with less after fees, per card. Budget collecting means that I don't have big ticket items that I can easily flip on eBay for cash.
For those of you who made it to the end of this long, rambling, possibly incoherent rant, I give you a reward: