Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quote of the Day

If you had a Robin Roberts card and I had a Mickey Mantle card I would of traded you even up and thought I got the best part of the deal, and today that would be heresy. I think that's a little dangerous.
A four-minute video for you:
Supply and demand. I think that's all this quote comes down to. Even in the height of investment pricing and "Beckett is God" value methodology, card collecting has always been about supply and demand. Who's to blame Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Score, and Upper Deck from printing millions of cards in the late '80s and early '90s, and each producing a dozen different baseball sets or more per year since then? There was demand, and the card companies provided the supply. The "market" itself was jaded and stupid, led by poor projectionist thinking. The 1950s Topps Mantle cards are so valuable because cards from that time are in short supply (especially in mint condition) and there is a large demand. A 1989 Donruss Juan Samuel is worthless, because while there are still millions of cards in mint condition, nobody wants it because Juan Samuel means nothing to most collectors. The only people who want that card are set and team-set builders, and perhaps a small sample of player collectors (if you're out there, not that there would be anything wrong with that). Unlike Mantle, he doesn't have a whole generation plus of followers, and there's enough to go around.

But even within the same issue, some players are "worth" more than others, for the same reason. Pujols has more demand than Matt Cain, because he's on more collector's want lists. It's only fitting that his cards should command a higher price than Cain.

I invite you to walk a San Francisco area card show, though, and try to find Matt Cain in with the commons. Especially with the World Series win, you can't buy Giants around here at Juan Samuel prices. Most of them command Pujols-level prices. At November and December card shows, I saw team sets selling for as much as $20, and they are around $10 now. Considering that a full set can be had at Target for $50, that's certainly a local premium. It all still ties in to supply and demand - there is a greater demand here for Giants memorabilia, with the same supply as elsewhere. (Actually, supply on the peninsula and in the city is fairly low most of the time compared to elsewhere, with the luck I've had finding packs at Target.)

A year or two ago, if you had a Matt Cain card I needed to finish a set and I had a Pujols extra from the same set, I probably wouldn't have traded you straight up - well, maybe I would have. These days, I tend not to even think about the players I'm trading away. I see this going on with most bloggers - many are happy to part with several cards to get just a few they need. Why not? I kind of realized this early on while blogging (though I guess I knew it all along). It's much better having a small handful of cards that mean something to you than a stack of cards that don't. Sure, this goes against the investing concept, but the non-investing side of the hobby really doesn't care about that, at least I don't think so.

I think this idea separates those who collect for value and those who collect purely for fun. There's nothing wrong with collecting for value, and I have no problems with the people who choose to open product to invest in or flip. Face it, Strasburg and Harper may not be at the top of your want lists, but their inclusion helps sales.

What are your thoughts on this quote?

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