Recently a friend of mine that moved out of town a few years ago hit me up asking about places that buy sports memorabilia in town and told me about how the owner of one store offered him practically nothing for an autographed photo of an entire baseball team 20 years ago with a few big names on it.
When I was a kid, I was a huge Boston Bruins fan. I found a sports card store that had a good selection of hockey cards and I mowed A LOT of yards to save up to purchase some rare Ray Bourque cards. I collected baseball and other hockey cards as well. I was always told that if I took good care of them, someday they would be worth something.
Every other kid in America was told and believed that as well.
I recently checked the prices on some of the cards I had on Ebay. The Ray Bourque collection that was maybe worth $100 in the early 90’s now couldn’t sell for $5. Hell, even the Gulf War trading cards (why couldn’t we get OIF trading cards???) set that I was assured would’ve been worth something in the future was worth just a few dollars. What happened?
Baseball cards from past generations became valuable because no one (or at least not many people) knew that someday they would be worth something. Many of them ended up in the spokes of bicycles or other similar fates. The ones that made it through ended up becoming a hot commodities because they were rare. Since everyone from my generation (the ones that grew up hearing horror stories about our fathers ruining baseball cards that would’ve been worth a fortune in the future) held on to their cards under the premise that “someday they’ll be worth something”, there’s now more cards on the market (and sitting in attics or my parents’ basement) than demand.
What does this all mean? Well, I guess it’s sometimes good to think critically when a lot of people are saying that something will be worth more in the future and banking on it. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t. Many people were burnt in the tech stock and housing bubble because they bought into the hysteria.
No one is perfect and certainly no one is right all the time – if you invest in anything, it’s the nature of the beast that you’re going to lose sometimes. A little bit of foresight could be the difference between owning something of lasting value or Beanie Babies and Wally Joyner Starting Lineup Figures.
On a side note, I just checked the eBay listing for Beanie Babies and there’s a full page of them starting out at $0.99 and I only see a handful with a bid or two out of the 25 listed. A Wally Joyner Starting Lineup Figure in the packaging is going from anywhere from $3 to $19.95 and there’s about a dozen of them. At the end of the day, things are only worth what people are willing to pay for them.