Are you thinking about starting your sports card collecting? Well, depending upon how long you’ve been away from it, I think you’ll find that it has changed quite a bit since you lost bought a package of cards for your favorite sport.
Depending upon how long it’s been you might find this “New World” of card collecting a little bit overwhelming and even disheartening at times, but don’t give up and don’t worry, it’ll be okay because here are a few tips to help you get through some of the changes that have gone on in the world of collecting since you’ve been absent.
The number one thing to remember is whatever you do, don’t go chasing after everything that you see on the market. There are a lot of new stuff out there but understand, no matter how much you might want to collect it, you simply can’t collect everything.
Up through the middle of the 1990’s you actually could chase about everything that had to do with your favorite team or players. You probably could even put together all the different sets. But a lot has changed since then. Consider the following:
• The cards cost a whole lot less then than they do now.
• There were no long lists of parallel cards like they have now.
• The autographs of players were kept to a minimum something they don’t seem to do today.
• The print runs were bigger back then as well.
In today’s collecting world the companies making the cards are more interested in catering to different types of collectors and if you try to chase everything out there you’ll not only get frustrated beyond belief, you more than likely will just quit before you even get started collecting again.
You need to know what you are looking for. In today’s market the sets tend to be designed with different niches in mind. Often they are aimed at specific audiences. For example some will target nostalgia and have big base sets and old time card stock with some familiar designs. Then there’s others that will be aimed at autographs only. Others will go with some wild designs and modern printing techniques. So, everything is different.
You will quickly find out that card packs can no longer be found for a buck a pack like they use to be. No, instead they tend to be very expensive now. It actually started way back in 1989 when Upper Deck decided to break that $1 per pack barrier and started charging $5 for their 1989 Upper Deck Baseball cards. This is when they promised at least one autographed card in each pack so we’d be okay with the super hike in price. Now for a complete box set you might expect to pay anywhere from $100 per box to as high as $15,000 for the 2016 Upper Deck All Time Greats Master Collection.
Been hoarding your stash of 80’s cards? Well, no need to because you are more than likely not going to be getting enough money off of them to retire on. Sure the 1980’s and the 1990’s really had some great cards. However, they also made a ton of them so it’s doubtful that there are very many rare ones. It’s all about supply and demand and the more there are of certain cards the less value they will have.
If you are coming back to the sports card collecting world in the hope of making easy money, you can more than likely put that idea back up on the shelf, because in today’s market I just can’t see that happening. The main reason is that this hobby which was once a pretty cheap hobby has just become too expensive for you to be making much money off of it. I’m sorry to disappoint but unfortunately that’s the cold hard reality about sports card collecting today.
So what happened to all the card companies you ask? Well sad to say there are now only three major companies left in North America and they cover MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL and MLS and they all have exclusive deals with these organizations. Topps is mainly baseball, Panini covers basketball and football and Upper Deck handles hockey. And Fleer, SkyBox, Pacific, Press Pass, Pro Set and Playoff? Where are they today? Well sad to say they have either completely gone or they have melded in with the other companies. Sad but true. The hobby world is no longer as big as it was not long ago, whether that’s good or bad, it’s the stark reality of this hobby.
Even with all the changes, collecting sports cards can still be fun if you don’t have any great plans for the collection. The excitement of finding just the card you want is still there and no doubt you’ll still have fun at sports shops and card shows which are still really great places to find some really good deals and some really good vintage cards.
If you are just returning to collecting cards, there must be a good reason for it, so don’t let the changes in the hobby take that thrill of the hunt away from you.