In early September, we were contacted by a gentleman from South New Jersey who wanted to sell his entire baseball card and memorabilia collection. The collection consisted of vintage card sets, yearbooks, programs, Super Bowl tickets, World Series tickets, autographed baseballs, and some rare autographed cuts. And when I say vintage sets, it wasn’t just a few sets from the late 1970s. It was dozens of sets, ranging from the 1930s through the 1970s, of all sports. You name it, he had it… it was one of the nicest collections we’ve ever seen in our home state of New Jersey! Obviously, this is a collection we will always be interested in buying.
The crazy part about this amazing collection, is that he actually tried to sell the entire thing about 18 months ago to another national dealer. But since the collection consisted of “too much stuff”, and was a little “all over the board”, the dealer didn’t even make him an offer...Wait, what? How is that even possible? I can understand if you were a casual collector and you had just stumbled across this overwhelming collection, and it was too much for you. But a dealer? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but hey, one man’s loss is another man’s gain. We’re happy to take on this collection, even if it is “too much stuff all over the board”. That’s what we are here for.
We usually conduct our appraisals during the week, but we ran into some scheduling conflicts, so we ended up having a Saturday morning appointment at his house. It actually wasn’t all that bad, because it literally rained the entire day, so I couldn’t take my son Crosby and my dog Argon to the park anyway!
He really wanted to sell everything as a whole collection, however, we were really only interested in just the cards to start. I figured if we worked out a deal for the cards then we should able to buy the rest of his collection the next time. He understood. The reason why this collection was so tricky was because the cards were in low to mid-grade condition and cards in that condition haven’t really appreciated much over the years like the high-grade examples have, so it makes it tougher to buy. When crunching the numbers and making an offer, you really need to make sure you hit your percentages to a T because of all the work that will be involved processing the collection later on. So again, a lot of cards, a lot of leg work, but in the end, it was well worth it. I spent a good six hours at his house, and was finally able to make him an offer on the cards. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t six straight hours of looking at cardboard, we took a few breaks here and there to talk about college football, which I really enjoyed...
So that was on a Saturday afternoon, and before I even arrived into the office on Monday morning, we had gotten a response to our offer. Unfortunately, he respectfully declined, and gave a thorough explanation why. He had felt that the price per card for the 1930s-1960s material was a little low. He had sold similar material himself a while back on eBay, and was looking to get that price per card. Unfortunately, his “counter” was almost double what we wanted to pay, so it wasn’t going to work for us. He wasn’t taking into consideration all of the fees and labor involved anyone would incur when selling online.
Then I got a little creative. I really wanted this collection, so I had to find a way to get at least some of it. I asked him if he would consider selling just part of the collection. If we were able to “cherry pick” some of the better sets, we could pay stronger prices. So, we put a list together of the sets that we really wanted (about 40 sets), and he came back with what he was looking to get for each one. Again, some of those prices were a little high, which made the grand total evaluation too high, so we narrowed the list down again. We settled on about 30 sets, used his percentages, and sent him over an offer. He accepted.
In the beginning stages of my career, this may have been a deal that I jumped at right away without too much thought, and overpaid for - just to get the material in. Sometimes you just get wrapped up in the moment. But, I’m glad to say that I’ve become wiser with age, and know what margins will make my business successful. It also helps to have a great team around you!
The following week he drove up to our office and dropped off the portion of the collection that we had agreed on. It was great to see him again, and we gave him the grand tour of the office. He also met and talked with some of the staff, which was nice.
Alright, let’s take a look at some of those cards...
What’s really cool about this collection, was the way they were all kept in binders. Each binder was distinctly labeled with the year, the set name, and bound by images of actual cards in the set! Check it out:
As you can tell from the images above, we got a good mix of sets from different decades and sports. 32 sets in all:
- 1953 Bowman B&W Baseball
- 1955 Topps Baseball
- 1964 Topps Giants Baseball
- 1970 Topps Super Baseball
- 1973-1978 Topps Baseball
- 1964-1967 Philadelphia Football
- 1956 &1957 Topps Football
- 1965 Topps Football
- 1970-79, 81 Topps Football
- 1984-86 Topps Football
My favorite set in the collection, by far, is the 1967 Philadelphia Football set. Not only because of how nice the condition is, but because how rarely we come across this set. This set is commonly overlooked because everyone leans toward Topps, but it does contain a few “big name” cards that are not found in the Topps issue: Mike Ditka, Johnny Unitas, and Gale Sayers (2nd year). There are also a few key Hall of Fame rookies in the set like Dan Reeves and LeRoy Kelly. Then you have the not-so-recognizable rookie Hall of Famers like Dave Wilcox, Tommy Nobis, and Chris Hanburger. The yellow borders and colorful images also make this set very distinctive, and gives it a nice eye appeal. The set we purchased averaged EX/MT to Near Mint condition, with a few example getting into the NM/MT threshold. The Sayers, Unitas and Ditka were all in Near Mint condition, and there was also a really nice NM/MT Ray Nitschke card.
Another great set from this collection was the 1972 Topps Basketball Set. This set includes the Hall of Fame rookie card of "Dr. J" Julius Erving, featured in a Virginia Squire jersey - a now defunct franchise. I love the vintage feel of this card - from his afro, to the red white and blue basketball, to the pastel colored text and background. It’s great! This card is actually one of my all-time favorites, and I just added an autographed blank-back version to my personal collection! The set also features Wilt Chamberlain, Pistol Pete Maravich, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar cards - along with another Erving card, the "In-Action" (#255)!
The best individual card from this collection is the Joe Namath rookie card, which hails from the 1965 Topps Football set. Unfortunately, the condition of this one wasn’t too great, as there is a crease at the top. Regardless, it’s still pretty valuable, and desired by almost every collector! And what’s a football collection without two of the most important cards in the hobby? Those being the Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr rookies. Both come from the 1957 Topps set, and are in great condition! Check them out:
I could go on for days talking about each set in this collection, but I’ll spare you the rest of your afternoon, and close with just two more standout cards. Those two cards would be the Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax rookies from the 1955 Topps Baseball Set. Both examples ended up being mid-grade:
This was a fantastic collection, and we hope to buy more just like this! So, if you have some sets that you are looking to sell, give us a call, and we’ll hook you up with a free appraisal. And remember, if your collection is too large or valuable to transport to us, we can come to you! We travel all the time, so please reach out to see when we’ll be in your area!
Here is what the seller had to say about his experience with Just Collect:
"Leighton came to my home and really took the time to look at my collection in detail. It was a very pleasant process, I found him to be an intelligent and engaging young man and very knowledgeable about the hobby. He gave me a fair appraisal, and we negotiated a deal for Just Collect to buy several items in my collection. Leighton was very responsive and professional during this process, and in the end we were both pleased with the deal that we made. I look forward to continuing to do business with Leighton and the Just Collect team. I would highly recommend them to anyone who is thinking about selling their collectibles." -Ron, NJ