Remember let book value be your GUIDE

Among collectors there are those that consider “book” value to be concrete; then there are those who use eBay, or other secondary markets,  to gauge price points.  There have been many heated conversations on the true necessity of price guides, but few would say they’ve been to a collectibles show that didn’t have one lying around.  It’s important to remember that a GUIDE is just that; a general outline of prices, or value.
In 1990, Beckett was still asking collectors and dealers to fill out surveys on what they notice in the marketplace.  Now, technology saves a lot of time, but still involves a lot of research to try and capture a snapshot of the market.  Also important to note, new cards are going to fluctuate at a much more rapid pace because collectors are trying to grab cards creating quicker shifts in the market.  If someone is quoting a price from the first day of release then you’re going to pay too much for something.
Following is an excerpt that was featured in Beckett price guides in every issue, and in every sport. What was true then, ( in this case-Basketball issue #2, May/June, 1990), is still important to remember now.  

“Value of hometown player

Many Collectors are more interested in players from their own areas, thus hometeam, home-town, or home-grown players often sell in these locales for more than the listed prices.

Price definitions:

The two columns of prices throughout the magazine provide the range within which the card is currently selling.  The national average price would obviously fall somewhere between the HI and the LO figures. Of course, with regional differences around the country, it may be that in your given area, most cards are being sold at the HI price.  The HI and the LO figures are obtained after we have eliminated the highest 10% and the lowest 10% of the reported prices each month.  This is done so that one or two sales will not unduly distort the price movement of a card or set.  The HI and the LO both correspond to the first column of the Sport Americana Price Guide by Beckett.  The price range serves four purposes: 1 to show more than just an average price, 2 to allow for regional differences, 3 to etsablish an equatable trade “value” or worth for each card or set, (i.e. the LO price); and 4- to provide collectors and dealers with an insight to the volatility or riskiness of certain cards.  A narrow spread between the HI and LO indicates a card with well-defined or established value.  On the other hand, a relatively wide spread (such as most newer cards)is indicative or riskier and more rapid priced movement because such accord has not yet stabilized the price.

Only a guide:

Beckett price listings should be considered as guides only, not as absolute, fixed prices.  These published prices are also NOT an offer to buy or sell o nthe part of the editor, publisher, contributors, or any other party.”


There is also confusion as to what a true rookie card is. First appearance? Extended set? Minor league card?  By the 1990’s, the definition of the Rookie Card had taken on a new ideology with the advent, or introduction, of update and traded sets in previous years.  In the January, 1992 issue of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly- Matt Chaney wrote an article, “The Update on Traded Sets”. Here, Chaney describes the evolution of the extended, or traded sets, and delves deeper into what card companies felt was the best way to include players that may have been called up towards the end of a season. Chaney writes, “Late-season sets could eventually fall victim to the midesason release of premium sets. Most issues feature the major rookies and manage to capture traded players in their new uniforms. In short, they’re striping away the impact of late-season sets.”  Do you think prospect sets, or rookie sets hurt, or add value to sets throughout the year?  Let us know in the comment section below.

“Rookie card definitions:

This is THE Rookie card. This is the player’s first appearance on a regular issue card from one the major card companies (presently Fleer or Hoops–ed note: this was from basketball issue in 1990).  Each company has ONLY one regular issue set and that is THE traditional set that is available virtually everywhere. A RC cannot be a All-Star.

XRC-Denotes the first card appearance (regular or otherwise) of that player for that company, but that appearance is from a non-regular issue Extended set.

FTC-This is the first Topps (regular issue) card of that player.  This occurs when that player has been featured already in a previous year by one of the other major card companies (but not by Topps).

FBC-First Bowman (regular issue) card; similar to FTC”

So you see, some things have changed, some have not; but it’s important to remember that a hobby is for people to enjoy and everyone enjoys it differently. Someone from your favorite team is going to be ‘worth’ much more to you than to someone else. Price guides shouldn’t be an absolute, but they are definitely essential to have as an added resource. Collectors shouldn’t get upset with someone wanting “book value” just like no one should go around yelling ” I can get it cheaper on eBay!”.  Make sure you use all of the available resources available for selling or trading considerations. And remember it’s supposed to be FUN.




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