The Beginner's Manual to Collecting Sports Cards!
What does Le Bron and Bulbasaur have in common? Both have trading cards with their image spiking in value due the global pandemic. Did you know the highest priced paid for a single basketball card was $5.2 million? If that does not spike your interest and jump on the bandwagon then I don't know what will. Where do you start? How do I know what to start collecting? What are the chances of me snagging that $1 Million Tom Brady card?
Sports card are the best entry point and you can get started with minimal costs and little effort. Read on as we give you the best knowledge and advice about collecting sports cards.
HOW TO START COLLECTING SPORTS CARDS
Congratulations, you are about to take the first step! Collecting sports cards comes with options. Which type of card will you collect? Your first and foremost choice should be with something you are passionate about and love. If you are in this for money alone, then this will be laborious and you might find a lot of closed doors ahead of you.
Trading communities are the biggest part of sports card collecting. These can be online or at local conventions hosted by various retailers and distributors. When you step in from outside with a bargaining face on, people will simply keep collecting within their own groups.
WHAT MAKES TRADING SPORTS CARDS DESIRABLE?
When you pick what you want to collect, you can start looking for the rare and sought-after cards. There are a number of factors that can influence the want of a card.
1. ROOKIE CARDS
Rookie Cards are always a top card collectors are after. they depict the first year of a player's career and the first time they will be appearing on cards. No one ever know how that player's career will play out. As the rookie continues on their path, if they become huge stars, the cards will sky rocket in value over time.
In the old days, you may have seen just one rookie card for each player. However, there are now multiple cards and series depicting players. As such, many rookie cards have come to be marked as such with a small logo or emblem.
2. WHO IS ON IT?
The player on the card makes a drastic difference to the desirability. Popular players, or well-know players will inevitably get the most attention in the hobby. However, it is not alway the case in modern card collecting now.
This is because many of the top players get lots of cards made of them, to bring in buyers. As such, they may have extra special additions or numbering to make them even more sought after. This means you may have lots of cards made of a popular player, some of which may be worth almost nothing while others could be extremely valuable.
Also keep in mind that in any sports, offensive players tend to be worth more than defensive ones. It is just the nature of the game. A striker's soccer card will probably be always more popular than a defender, for example.
PARALLELS, BASE, INSERT, AND SUBSETS
Another factor that can add to the value is the number of variants a card may have. These can be broken down into parallels, base, insert, and subsets.
1. BASE CARDS
Base cards are the regular cards. They make up the rank and file of any card collection. They do not have any special markings, though some of them may be rarer than others because fewer have been printed.
2. PARALLELS CARDS
A parallel is similar to a base card and will feature that same picture and a similar design. However, one element will be changed and the parallel cards will be produced in limited numbers. Designs may include different colors, textures, embossed prints, or shiny and holographic coatings.
3. INSERT AND SUBSETS CARDS
A subset is a whole new design of cards often placed in regular packs. They will have limited numbers, and are easy to spot as they have different layouts, designs, and images. Each individual card is an insert.
BUYING CASES AND IN BULK
You do not have to spend time hunting down individual cards, though some people say thats the thrill of the hunt. Lots of collectors prefer to purchase in bulk or cases. There are a few ways you can do this in the hobby.
1. SEALED BOXES
The first is to buy sealed boxes. For many collectors, this is this ultimate fix!
Some people decide to buy these sealed boxes and open them to see what is inside. Their value is often determined by the age and rarity of the card packs themselves.
Often the term sealed wax is used. This refers to a box of smaller card packs often in its sealed plastic wrapping.
PURCHASING FULL SETS
Another way to buy in bulk is to purchase a complete set. These are often already complete, with all the cards in the run. Sometimes, if a set has a rare card, it can be cheaper to buy the whole lot rather than purchase the individual card.
WHERE DO I GET CARDS?
Collectible Sports Cards can be bought from tons of sources and retailers. You will find the most fun is from going and hunting down the rare and elusive cards from a number of boxes.
1. HOBBY SHOPS
You can pick up newer editions and pre-order releases from most hobby shops. These are generally the type of places that sell sports cards, games, and other collectibles. Some may even have a few specialist older ones in stock.
2. ATTEND SHOWS
One of the most rewarding ways to collect cards is to attend trade shows, cons, and events. In these instances, you get to physically see older cards and talk with the people selling them. Very often, you can find things you never even knew existed.
These events vary in size and frequency. They may be attached to other events, such as comic cons or specialist card sales markets. It will allow you to build up a network and that will be invaluable to the long-term collector.
3. SECOND-HAND SALES
Antique fairs, pawnshops, garage sales, and flea markets are all places where cards might pop up. While they may not be specifically for cards, these are the places you are most likely to find a hidden gem and grab a bargain. Make sure you dig deep and don't be afraid to ask people if they have any sports cards in their stock.
Most people's sports card collection is bought online. It gives you the best of both worlds, allowing you to build a network with other collectors while casting your eye further afield. However, this distance also makes it easier to get scammed.
A great place to start is on social media. You can follow accounts and join groups with other collectors. They are often a great source of information and you can learn a lot from them.
Popular auction sites will also have a number of cards for sale. By looking at their sold listings, you can also get a pretty good approximation of the current value for an item.
STORING YOUR CARDS
Once you have your treasured and rare collectible sports cards, then you need to store them safely. This prevents them from exposure to the elements and accidental damage. All of this could devalue them significantly.
Sleeve, Top loaders, and Binders are the best way to store and protect you cards. These will keep corners sharp and lessen the chance of damage that can occur by chance of dropping the cards.
Graded Cards or Non-Graded Cards
There are mixed opinions when it comes to grading any collectible, be it comics, toys, or sports cards. The process involves sending off your item. It is then sealed in a protective case and giving a rating regarding its condition.
Higher condition ratings are obviously more desirable. There are certain companies that grade items for certain niches. For example, some companies may specialize in baseball cards, others may grade comics and such forth.
Many people believe grading protects the buyer, especially when trading online. It gives a concrete assurance that the product is in the condition you have stated it is. Grading items also protects the item physically, keeping it from taking damage.
Arguments against it are that grading is a means to inflate the value of items. Condition and how it is determined, and thus price, is in the hands of a few small companies.
Grading is entirely up to personal preference. However, you should know that graded items, while selling for more, are very niche. Once you grade something, you are only ever going to sell it to graded collectors which may be a smaller pool.
You may also not get the grading you want. Anything lower than an 85+ grade will not be worth the expenditure, as it is not in mint or near-mint condition.
Just as there are many positives that can bring up the value of a card, there are also many that can bring it crashing down. In addition, like any financial operation, there are plenty of scams involved in the card trade you should be aware of.
For more valuable cards, people will take the time to fake them. Unfortunately, if you are buying online you really don't have time to see them in person until they arrive. Therefore you need to safeguard your purchase.
If you are on auction sites make sure you only buy from sellers with great ratings. Sticking to a social media or online community helps negate this, as you can talk to other sellers to see who may have used the person before for sales.
One of the other sports card collection scams is with shilling. This is when people use auction sites to put in high bids. This drives up the price in what is an unregulated market, making people think it is actually worth more than it is.
Online auction sites also have lots of different methods people use to scam you. From giving fake tracking numbers to sending out items in a worse condition than described, you need to stay alert.
COLLECTING SPORTS CARDS
Now that you know how easy it is to begin, get on board! Set a budget, know your niche then start shopping.
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