The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

MAY  2007

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







A Closer Look at Collecting

By Jerry Keys

My eyes were aghast when I walked into the store this past month. I saw an affordable pack of baseball cards! Something I had not seen in about twenty years.  There it was; for $1. Unbelievable! Although there were only seven cards in the pack, it was still an affordable price for kids.

When I grew up busting packs, there were 15 cards in a pack (Topps) and were only 25 cents (early 80's) to 50 cents (late 80's). Given inflation and the cost of living in 2007, that is the most comparative price for a pack of cards I have seen since the early 1990's.

This venture inclined me to write several articles on card collecting.  I know I have done this a few times over the past nine years my articles have appeared in  The People News, but this time I want to look at it from a child's point of view.

Collecting cards is a fabulous hobby and trading with friends are times you will reflect upon 20-30 years later. I gave up collecting cards in the mid-90's due

Jerry Keys

to the rising cost of cards and the fluctuation in pricing.  After about 1995, baseball cards became as volatile as the stock market. It definitely was not a kid's hobby anymore.
Nevertheless, after years away from collecting, I have returned to my

childhood favorite. There is a multitude of cards/sets that a collector could search for. I want to examine the "more economical" choices that younger collectors can choose from first.

When you mention baseball cards, the first thing that pops into your mind is Topps.  Topps is the granddaddy of baseball cards. They have been around since 1951.

Let's start off by sectioning the Topps sets. The first group is the recent sets, from the present back to 1997. The second group is from 1996 to 1992.  The third group is from 1991 to 1986. Subsequent years earlier are 1985-1981, 1980-1974, 1973-1953, and 1952. This article will focus on the

latest group, 1997 to present.

With the newer sets, I am not an expert on the additional cards that are offered in a "factory set". A factory set is a Topps set that is produced and sealed.  Meaning you

cannot see, feel, or touch the cards that are in the set unless you open it.  Opening the set will decrease the value of it due to the rising demand for "graded cards". An opened factory set runs a much higher risk of not containing potential gem mint cards.

You can pick up a hand-made set (from packs) a great deal cheaper than purchasing the factory set. For the sake of investing, it is wise to choose the factory set. For the fun of seeing what you paid for, opening the set may be best.  The difference in pricing and selling for factory sets vs. opened or hand-made sets is quite a bit. A factory set will sell for roughly 25-60% higher than an opened or hand-made set, depending upon which year you are selling.

Some factory sets offer the same amount of cards as you would accumulate from a hand-made set. Although most from 1997 to present, offer special additions to the set only obtainable through purchasing the factory set. You could build a hand-made set and buy the extra cards separately but it still will not resale for as much as the original factory set.

The 1997 Topps set is the most varying difference because if you purchase the factory set, it includes a special early Derek

Jeter card. The factory set (with Jeter) sells for over twice what the hand-made set would (without Jeter).  This was the first year an additional card in a factory set mattered so much.

It is better to buy the factory set for investment purposes but it does not come close to matching the fun of busting packs, trading your extra cards for ones you need, and maybe pulling a high dollar subset card.  Another way to look at buying boxes and hand-making a set, you could always pull out the subset cards and sell them. A fairly good subset card might sell for the same amount you paid for the box of cards.

If you have limited resources, only buy the hand-made sets as far back as you can. You can always purchase

the more expensive factory sets later and simply sell your hand-made set. Or you could simply buy both types.  The hand-made sets could be for enjoyment and the factory sets for investment.

I grew up in the non-factory set years, so I am partial to the see, touch, feel sets. The one drawback to recent Topps sets is there are no longer prized rookie cards included. Bowman and other cards companies have cornered the market on them since 1989 and Traded/Update sets before that.  The last true rookie cards that made a splash in the regular Topps set were the 1984 Don Mattingly and 1985 Mark McGwire

The 1985 Topps did produce a highly sought after Roger Clemens and Kirby Puckett but their true rookie cards were in the 1984 Fleer Update set. The main rookie card in the Topps sets from 1997 to the present is the 2001 Ichiro rookie, valued at $15.

The 2007 Topps series one is priced at $50. Half of the value is placed on a Derek Jeter card that has an imprint of Mickey Mantle in the dugout. The series one set minus that one card is $25.

Although this set is not expected to skyrocket in price, it is a good starting point. Packs are affordable and kids can purchase them. In years past, I saw packs from $2.99 to $4.99.  A 2007 retail box with 24 packs and 12 cards each would only cost about $30. And a 24 pack and 7 cards each box will cost about $15.

You can purchase boxes cheaper on Ebay or local baseball card shops. Or you can simply buy pack by pack.  Happy pack busting!