The Fall of Baseball . . .Cards

Slate has a fun article on the collapse of the baseball card industry. (via Volokh) I thought this paragraph was insightful:

It’s easy to blame card companies and “the hard-core collector” for spoiling our fun. But I’ll admit that even before the proliferation of pricey insert cards, I was buying plastic, UV-ray-protectant cases for my collection. Our parents, who lost a small fortune when their parents threw out all those Mantles and Koufaxes, made sure we didn’t put our Griffeys and Ripkens in our bicycle spokes or try washing them in the bathtub. Not only did that ensure our overproduced cards would never become valuable, it turned us into little investors. It was only rational, then, for the card companies to start treating us like little investors. The next wave of expensive, hologram-studded cards didn’t ruin collecting for us—we were already getting too old for the game. It ruined baseball cards for the next generation of kids, who shunned Upper Deck and bought cheap Pokémon and Magic cards instead.

Makes sense to me: everybody learned from history, determined what was valuable, and then hoarded the valued cards, resulting in a surplus of high value items, and thus decimating the market value. The author’s recommendation of how to increase the value of baseball cards again is a good idea.

I used to collect baseball cards with my brothers and neighborhood buddies. I never was top dog in the local market (I think that was my older brother with his uncanny ability to score high value rookie cards like Dave Justice, Ken Griffey, Jr., etc), but I still had a pretty good collection. I still have all my best cards sitting quietly in a baseball card folder in my closet. Ahh, those were the days . . .

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