Friday, January 15, 2016

Picking A 1933 Goudey HOF Jim Bottomley

Here's a before and after story about being a baseball card picker--the purchase, grading and valuation of a good baseball card.

I bought an ungraded 1933 HOF Jim Bottomley on Ebay in a screwdown case. Here's a picture of it from the listing after I bought it:

I spent $36.51 and paid $3.50 shipping, for a total of $40.01. (Notice the penny extra on the bid.)

I took a chance here--not something I typically do with money in general. But the Goudeys are one of the Big Three sets. The 1909-1911 T206s (which I've written about many times), the 1952 Topps and the 1933 Goudeys are the most-collected and sought-after sets. Any card from these sets will sell for more than average; HOF cards from these sets will be worth a premium value. And highly-graded HOF cards from these sets will be worth good money. A card in decent condition (even, in most cases, in poor condition) from these sets will re-sell, no problem. So if you want to collect a card and try to make a good profit at the same time, these are the cards to get. (I would throw the 1888 Old Judges and the T205s in this category as well. And any card, really, between 1900 to 1933.)  The trick is to buy one at a low price--ungraded cards can be bought for even cheaper--and then to send them away to SGC, PSA or Beckett to get them graded.

But doing so is taking a chance. No matter what you guess a card will be graded, it sometimes seems these guys grade the cards almost at whim, defying any reasonable explanation. (I have proof of this.) But if you want to increase a card's value, you have to get it graded. Out of all the companies, I think Beckett is the best for cards after 2000. PSA is best for cards 1960-1999. And SGC is best for all cards prior to 1960. It seems that overall card values back me up with this.

So what to buy? I've bought ungraded T206s and written about those before. But I'd never done so for a Goudey and I wanted to try. So if you're going to do that, you need to buy a popular player or a HOFer. But many of those are out of my price range. (Ruths and Gehrigs are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.) I decided upon a HOFer nobody but serious fans know (and who shouldn't be in the HOF but for Veterans Committee shenanigans) and to get it raw, which means ungraded. The ones available during the limited time I allowed myself (because I could so easily go overboard with this and there goes the mortgage) were scant, and I settled on this guy.

Anyway, I sent it to SGC during its December Goudey/Play Ball/Diamond Star Special of $8 per card. (I also sent a HOF Rabbit Maranville Goudey, which I knew was in terrible condition; I was lucky to get that graded in Poor condition.) Because this venture is all about value and profit, you wait until the grading company has a sale on its grading. By chance, this sale came up right when I bought the card. Normally SGC charges $10 per card from this era.

So a few days ago (the website publishes your results when they're done, even before you get it in the mail) it was graded a 5 Excellent--which is really good for a 1933 Goudey, as they were handled a lot, and they're old, and they fray and literally disintegrate, and the corners round easily. The card, now graded, looks like this:

My Beckett Graded book shows the highest graded 1933 Goudey Jim Bottomley to be an 8, and I've got a 5. Not bad for $40! Book value? $150!!! Because you often can't get book value on cards, I looked up recently sold SGC 5 graded 1933 Jim Bottomley Goudeys on ebay. (I checked off the "sold listings" box; just because someone's asking $300 for the card on ebay, that doesn't mean it's worth $300. People ask insane prices via "Buy It Now" on ebay. But if a card has sold recently at a consistent price, that card is worth that price.) A PSA 5 (same exact grade and conditions, and PSA and SGC are equally respected) sold on January 10th, 2016 for $159.99, which shows the book value of $150 to not only be accurate, but maybe even a little low.

So I spent $40 on it, and paid $8 to get it graded, plus a couple bucks for shipping and insurance, for a total of $10 more. In summary, I paid $50 and it's worth at least $150---three times what I paid. Not bad! Even if I sent it to a 3rd party (an ebay company I do business with) and got the 87% he gives, and spent maybe $5 to send it to him, my profit is around $75-$80. Not bad for one card! It all took just minutes of my time, mostly sitting on my butt at my computer, and my post office doesn't usually have any lines, either. I could seriously make some part-time income doing this.