Lately, I’ve been receiving a lot of e-mails regarding the value of certain Lincecum cards. I am quite flattered that I’ve been regarded as the foremost Lincecum card expert in the blogosphere and many people who have questions pertaining to the value of his card has come to me or has been referred to me. But one thing has really irked me concerning these conversations about his card value and that is the dreaded topic of book value. For the most part, I have avoided this controversial topic because I have strayed away from forum and message boards full of brain-washed zombies who view book value as scripture. I love how many times, these people view book value as a double standard. Basically, they would love to sell you their card for book value, which in reality is an insanely overpriced product (99% of the time anyway), but at the same time, they would also love to buy cards from you at half book value. They never deal with you if you want to sell your own card to them at book value. But as we all know, if you go to a card shop, a lot of times the owners will also try to sell cards to you at half book value. In many cases, this is still a rip off because those cards you can get for pennies.
When tackling this issue, I take the Bad Wax approach of being kind and informative before calling them an idiot and bashing their blind faith. I absolutely love Chemgod’s posts on calling out Craigslist idiots for trying to sell 80s and 90s crap at exorbitant prices. I would like to do the same with anyone who e-mails me about book value. Fortunately, I have a great success story and hopefully a convert of book value.
First, let me get my opinions on book value out in the open. Let me be very clear in saying that book value is essentially an arbitrary number assigned to a card and currently holds no value whatsoever in today’s market. But, I am an open-minded person so let’s play devil’s advocate. When is the only time book value is actually accurate? Find me a person willing to pay book value for an overpriced card and I will gladly sell it to them. The main reason that book value is now defunct is because of market value. Market prices and trends set the value of a card. This is mainly determined on the global marketplace known as eBay. It has changed the face of sports card collecting, for better or for worse, but it is here to stay. This has come at the expense of companies like Beckett and Tuff Stuff. This is not to bash on them because some articles in their magazines are good, but the truth remains that book value is irrelevant today. I used to actually value cards by book value at one time believe it or not. Not sports cards, but rather Magic cards. For those of you who remember, the Scrye, it is the longest running periodical to place value CCG cards. I gave that up when I stopped collecting Magic cards. What has become of The Scrye these days? It is still in publication actually, but according to Wikipedia, they intend to cease publication in April 2009, which is in a few months. Folding in tough economic times or the irrelevance of book value? Maybe a little bit of both.
Now onto my story:
A week ago, a reader named Andy e-mailed me asking me if I wanted to purchase a couple Lincecum autograph cards since I’m such a big collector. He said he would rather have it in the hands of a collector that could appreciate the cards. Here is his e-mail when I was interested:
I have never sold any of my cards before either, but I am trying to pare down my collection to just the few players that I collect: Jeter, Mattingly, Bernie Williams and Joba. I use Tuff Stuff for pricing, although I know most collector’s use Beckett. ($10 for the magazine, pfft!!) The Tuff Stuff book on those 2 cards is $150, not sure what the Beckett is. I’m willing to sell them for $125, which would include the postage and handling as well as the cards in the screwdown holders. I would ship them in a padded envelope UPS so you can track them. The cards are in mint condition because as soon as I pulled them they went into the screwdowns. I could scan them for you, if you’d like. I would take a personal check or money order mailed to me.
Let me know if there is any more info you need and if the price seems fair to you. I won’t be able to do anything until the middle of next week as I am going out of town on Friday morning for the weekend. I’m not trying to scam you, I just can tell that you’re a big Lincecum fan and these cards are sweet. You’ll definitely enjoy them in your collection more than I will. Also, could you send me the link to your blog? I found it at work and can’t seem to get back to it. Let me know if you have any questions.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Andy is very nice and cordial throughout the exchange and this is not to bash at all on his price offer. It’s not outrageously off, but it’s off by about $40 or so based on eBay completed auctions. Here is my response e-mail:
I don’t really want to sound condescending so please don’t take offense to what I’m about to say. The assessment of card value has changed dramatically in the past few years. Ever since eBay came to the forefront of internet auctions, book value has become meaningless because it is such an arbitrary price that people at Beckett or Tuff Stuff come up with that has no merit how what a card’s true value holds. That being said, the best way of assessing a card’s value is through completed auctions on eBay. That way, you can get a sense of a card’s true market value, which may shift from time to time throughout the year. That’s one of the main reasons so many card shops are going out of business – mainly due to the fact that eBay is selling the same cards for cheaper and also the fact that they religiously abide by book value, which looses them more customers to eBay. Adam Gellman is a huge proponent against book value as is many of the other card bloggers in the card blogging world. I strongly encourage you to read the history and facts behind book value vs. sell value (eBay auctions) on his blog. You can find many of the articles at this link:
That is not to say that those two cards are highly valued, but I’m pretty sure they will sell for under $125. As of right now, I can’t afford those two cards at that price since I am waiting and saving up to buy a card I’ve been after for a while on eBay. This is not to say that that your price is outrageously unfair, but I just hope to shed some light on the issue. I hope you can keep an open mind and be informed and not get ripped off yourself by other people who strictly abide by book value in the future. By the way my blog is here: https://thenennthinning.wordpress.com
I really appreciate people who are open minded about these things. Did I make a convert out of Andy?
Thanks for the information, Bailey. I have bought some stuff on eBay over the years and I realize that some stuff on there is much cheaper. I had even looked for both of those cards on eBay and didn’t find them. I had no other guide to go by other than Tuff Stuff. I like the guides because they give me an idea of card rarity, popularity, etc. I realize that their prices are not gospel, I just like to have an idea.
I don’t know what it is, but I have been buying ’07 stuff from Dacardworld.com and I seem to be getting Tim Lincecum stuff. No offense, but I’d rather have the Jeter stuff!! That being said, I have decided to hold onto the masterpieces card as on card autos are becoming rarer and rarer, plus it’s such a cool looking card. Maybe I will try to be a seller on eBay, although I have never done that before.
Thanks for the info.
Mission accomplished. While the population reports are nice, magazines such as Tuff Stuff and Beckett should have no control over appraising card value due to conflict of interest in terms of the companies scratching each other’s back. Andy is not the only person who has e-mailed me this week about book value of Lincecum cards, but many many others. I’m not sure why I was suddenly bombarded with these e-mails all of a sudden, but I’m glad they happened because now I have material to write about. This is also an issue I feel strongly about because it prevents people from getting ripped off, especially if they’re just returning to the hobby only to find out it has changed drastically (for the better) for the buyer/collector.