Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My T206 Gifts to Myself

Photos: Jimmy Williams and Charlie Rhodes T206s.  These are not the exact same two cards mentioned in the story below.  The two pictured here are in Near Mint condition and worth about $550 each.  And I ain't payin' that.  These pics are from a great T206 card site,

So, if you've read the last few entries, you may be wondering: "Did he get any T206s for himself?"

Well, I did, and I'm ecstatic about them.  I got two, and both for the price of what the Grimes or Stark would've cost.

First, I got a Jimmy Williams SGC 3/40 VG T206 card.  This means that SGC, a top-notch card grading company (I only buy graded cards now, which is necessary but sort of sad.  That's another entry for another day.), graded the card at the third-lowest level, which is Very Good.  That's an actual grade, and not just someone at the company saying, "Wow, that's in very good condition."

Anyway, as I explained before, Very Good condition is more than good enough for me, as anything higher than that can get silly expensive.  Very Good cards will look great, and are far better than Poor, Poor/Fair, Fair and Good condition cards.  I'm actually happy with cards in Good condition, though that's the lowest condition I'll buy in, unless we're talking HOF T206 ballplayers.  Those guys are often expensive even in Poor condition, because they're HOFers and everyone wants them, so they're at a premium, even in bad condition.  I have T206s of about 7 HOFers, and they're in either Poor, Fair or Good condition.  Anything higher than that will be over $100 apiece, minimum.  Often, they'd be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

So, the book value--I use Beckett's Graded Card Price Guide--of this exact Jimmy Williams card, in this exact condition, was $60.  That's a little high for me at Christmastime (and during most other times), but I figured I'd watch the bidding and give it a shot.  I've made a few extra bucks recently--not much, but enough to buy myself one or two affordable (ie--inexpensive) cards for Christmas and New Year's.  Or Thanksgiving and Christmas, if I want to be naughty and get myself another one for New Year's, which I probably will.  And then another a month later for my birthday...

But I digress.  So the shipping for this card was $3.50, and the BV was $60, as I mentioned.  I'd watched the Babe Ruths and Ty Cobbs and the Magie error card and the Grimes card and the Dolly Stark card come and go by now, and I wanted something, so I tried for this one.  (Jimmy Williams was a nobody player--a common card, in the hobby--and by far the least valuable of all the names I just mentioned.)  The highest visible bid was up to just $22 or so.  (If you've bid on Ebay before, you know the highest visible bid is often far below the actual highest bid.) 

I'm old hat at this kind of thing, so I knew that a common T206 in Very Good condition will often hit the $40 or $50 mark.  If it did, I wouldn't bid.  The BV was $60, and the shipping was $3.50, but you don't want to spend the book value price, and you certainly don't want to spend over the BV price.  (If you read the previous two entries, you know what I mean.)  Like the Dolly Stark card, which was more valuable, I didn't want to spend over $45 total.  I mean, I've bought HOF T206s in Poor or Good condition in the $40s and $50s, so I wasn't going to do that for a common card, even in VG condition.

As I've mentioned, you have to have a set dollar figure in mind--including shipping, which is not part of the card's value but yet is still money you have to pay--and never exceed that.  Otherwise, this Ebay thing can get out of hand in a hurry and suddenly you're in debt.

So I put in my max dollar amount, and I wait until the proper number of seconds remain before I post my bid.  (I ain't tellin' you my bid or the number of seconds I wait for.  Cuz I'm silly and unrealistic like that.)  And in the last ten seconds, the bids go from $22 to $23, $24, $24.55 and to $30 before my bid wins.

I've just watched the Dolly Stark sell for $63--admittedly, a fair price, since the BV was $80, but it was still more than I wanted to spend.  Another card, Josh Devore, had sold for $82, and the BV was $150, but still the $82 was more than I wanted to spend, though that one stung a little when it got that high.  (It had been in the $30s for awhile and I was hoping.)  The Magie error card went for over fourteen grand, and I saw Cobbs and Ruths sell for thousands, and I'm still waiting.  (This all took about half an hour, by the way, in case you thought I'd wasted my night doing this.)

I didn't spend the $63 or the $82 because I was able to get a T206 in Very Good condition (same condition as the other two) for just $31, plus $3.50 shipping.  And then, just a few minutes later, I was fortunate enough to get a Charlie Rhodes T206, also in Very Good condition, for just $28, plus $3.50.

Unfortunately, these two cards weren't from the same place, so I couldn't save on shipping, which I always try and do.  But, anyway, the bottom line is that I was able to get two VG condition T206s for a total of $66, including shipping.  Which is why I didn't spend $66.50--including shipping--for the one Dolly Stark card (though that would've been nice, and remains a personal thing with me), or the $85.50 for the one Josh Devore card--both in the same condition as the two I did get.  I'd rather spend $66 total for two VG T206s than over $20 more than that for one VG T206.

That's my Christmas present to myself.  I'm going to pay for those right now and log off from Ebay and not log back in for at least another month.  That's what I do--jump in, buy one or two, and then shut it down for at least a couple of months.  So as not to go crazy and in debt.  I can see why people would get addicted to this and drive themselves bankrupt.

And so that's it.  Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to my readers.  Be good to yourself this holiday season and this New Year's.  Get something inexpensive for yourself, too.  You deserve it!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Dolly Stark Situation

Photo: The Dolly Stark Southern League T206 card, from  This is not the exact card in the story below.  BMWcards, by the way, is a company that sells really high-end, really high-quality, great-conditioned and highly-graded cards.  In other words, I can look, but I can't buy.
I almost bid on a Dolly Stark, which is a tougher-to-find Southern League card, and worth more than other commons in the set.  I can't tell you how many times I've bid on a Dolly Stark card.  So often, it's become a bit of a thing with me.  I have to get one--but not go crazy to do so.  This one was an SGC 30 2, which means it was graded by SGC, and graded a 30, which is SGC's way of saying it's in Good condition.  A 2 also means Good condition.  Good, in this case, is an actual grade, not just someone saying it's in good condition, if you know what I mean.  I'm a bit stingy, because I'm a bit poor, so buying a T206 in Good condition is okay with me.  It's not for most serious collectors. 

So I looked it up in what I call The Book--Beckett's Graded Card Price Guide.  It says that this exact card, in this exact condition, has recently sold for, on average, $80.  (This is not the same as saying it's "worth" $80, but it's as close to an immediate, go-with-it value you can get on short, convenient notice.)  When I saw it, the bid was $27. 

(Side note: Do not ever buy an item like a baseball card as a BUY NOW on Ebay, because if there's something wrong with the item--and there usually will be, or it wouldn't be BUY NOW, it'd be auctioned--Ebay will not reimburse you, and neither will the seller.  Only static items, like baseball card plastic sleeves, for example, or anything else you'd buy off a shelf or a rack, should ever be bought as a Buy It Now.) 

Anyway, I knew the bid would go up, but I hoped not by much, and a common card usually won't escalate tremendously.  I had my bid all set after there was less than one minute to go.  (I place my bid when there's a specific number of seconds left; not tellin' ya what that is.)  My bid was for $41.51, because the shipping was $3.50, and I didn't want to spend more than $45 total, even though the value was $80.  I try not to pay more than half what a card is worth, including shipping.  But as this Dolly Stark situation has become personal at this point, I splurged by a few bucks.  With 5 seconds left, the bids went from $27 to over $30 to over $40, etc., finally settling on $63.00.  That's not bad, spending $66.50 total for a card "valued" at $80--a savings of $13.50, but that was more than I wanted to spend on one T206 card, even though it was a Southern Leaguer (which are more rare and more expensive) and a personal situation, too.  There were other cards I was looking at, and I needed to save my money. 

Plus, once you've settled on a dollar amount you're willing to spend, you absolutely cannot go over that amount.  If you do, you will again, and suddenly you've gone Ebay crazy and spent your mortgage.  Craziness.  So I never sent my bid for this card.  The Dolly Stark situation still remains a personal thing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Sherry Magie Error T206 Card Sold on Ebay

Photo: The one you see here is valued at $90,000.  Yes.  90 grand.  Or, half the value of a good house.  The super-famous Magie (Magee) error card, from  The card in this picture is not the same exact one in the story below. 

I just watched a Sherry Magie (correct spelling: Magee) error card from the T206 set--one of the most sought-after, rare and expensive cards in the hobby--sell on Ebay.  Just watching, mind you.  Why?  Because it was in PSA 3 VG condition, which means the grading company PSA said it was in Very Good condition, which is an actual grade, and not somebody saying, "Hey, that's in very good condition."  The 3 means that this is the 3rd-lowest grade for a card, which is good if you're a serious, but financially limited, collector like me.  (Most serious T206 collectors are not financially limited.)  So I'm thrilled to get a card in VG condition, but most serious collectors prefer cards at least a good three stages higher, at least Excellent or Excellent-Mint condition.  If I had the money, I'd be the same.  But I don't, so I'm not, and I'm okay with that.

Anyway, Beckett's Graded Card Price Guide says that this exact error card, in this exact graded condition, has sold recently, on average, for $20,000 (Yes, twenty grand for a baseball card of someone you've never heard of.) and that this dollar "value" has gone up since Beckett's last report.  This is not the same as saying that the card is "worth" $20K, but for our purposes here we can think about it that way.

Suffice it to say, I don't (and most of you probably don't) have twenty grand to spend on a baseball card, so I'm just watching this take place.  At about five minutes before the end of the auction, the highest visible bid (if you've bought off Ebay before, you know the highest visible bid is often nowhere near the highest actual bid) is at about $12,000.  Now, this kind of famous card, an error card, a card that every serious T206 collector (including me) wants to have, will often go crazy in the last 10 seconds of bidding, so I'm fully expecting this thing to jump violently and quickly from $12K to $14K (seeing a baseball card jump in seconds by a few grand is a very rare thing to see), and so on, to come close to $20K or, as I expected, to exceed it.

To my utter shock--and, I'm sure, to the seller's worst nightmare--it doesn't.  It sells for $14, 544.  Someone out there just got one of the hobby's most sought-after cards at a savings of over $5,000.  Well, $5,456, to be exact.  Which means the seller, who should have expected the card to sell for something close, if not more than, $20,000, just took a hit of over five grand.

Meanwhile, I just saw a Burleigh Grimes 1933 Goudey, in PSA Good condition, with a book "value" of $50, just sell for $81.26, plus $3.50 shipping.

So some guy got a card at a savings of over $5,000--and he can very easily just re-list it himself sometime and sell it on some Friday or Saturday night, far away from Christmas time when people are buying presents and going broke, for the $20K, and make a nice $5,000 profit for himself by doing absolutely nothing.  Well, besides using a little common sense.  I would never auction off a super-valuable card around Christmastime.  I'd wait until February, or March, when people are depressed and miserable and will overspend.

Anyway, so some guy underspent by five grand and got a world-class card, while someone else vastly overspent on the Grimes card by $33.76, which in its own way is just as shocking.  Overspending by almost $34 on a card that's only worth $50 is an astoundingly financially unfeasible thing to do.

Ebay giveth and Ebay taketh away.  That's the risk you run putting something up for bid.  If you just get a sparse crowd, you're going to lose out, big-time.  The company selling the Magie card was not one of the mega-name card companies I'm familiar with on Ebay.  If it had been, with the established and serious client base those companies have, the card would've sold for closer to the $20K.

Craziness.  But the company's fault for putting it up for bid when it did.  Even if that's what the client asked the company to do (these guys often auction things for someone else, and get a cut of the sale price for doing so; that's called consignment), I can't believe the company wouldn't convince the card owner that he'll lose a few grand selling it now.

If I'd only had the money myself...

I also watched a 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #181 PSA 6 EX-MT Condition, sell for $6,100.  Shipping: $20.  (This is the classic card where he's grimacing and looking over his shoulder, his arm on the red Big League Chewing Gum ad.)  The book value: $5,000.  I can't decide if someone overspent by over a grand, or if this is a worthwhile and legitimate value.  A $1,100 profit on a $5K card is a pretty good haul.  This Ruth Goudey card is also one of the hobby's most recognizable cards.  Though not as much as the Napolean Lajoie (who's from RI) 1933 Goudey card.  A Near-Mint one of those recently sold for $60,000.  Yes, $60K for one baseball card.  This company was one of the mega-names, which I think accounted for the profit made by the card.  Sad, but true.  Why the owner of the Magie error card didn't consign it through one of the mega-name companies is a mystery.