Short answer: no. Here’s why! When you search “sports card shops near me” your search engine will bring up a list of local card shops that are not necessarily the best. Why?
They are generally not well equipped to appraise or purchase vintage collections of any magnitude. These retail stores are usually under capitalized and are focused on selling modern products and simply don’t have the time or the knowledge to carefully evaluate vintage collections. So, now the question is, how should you proceed on selling the collection? Who do I contact? Who can I trust? How do I establish the value? What years do I have? Below I help answer these questions.
The steps to take when you inherit a sports card collection (hint – don’t visit sports card shops near you!)
- Identify the year and manufacturer of each card. For a novice, the easiest way to identify the manufacturer/year of a card is to look at the back. There you will find the player’s bio, stats by year, etc. You will also be able to identify the manufacturer (in most cases) by looking at the bottom of the card. At the bottom you will find the copyright symbol, and often times the name of the manufacturer. For example; this 1957 Topps Card (pictured above) has the copyright symbol followed by T.C.G., which means the card was manufactured by Topps Chewing Gum Company. You can identify the year of the card by looking at the last row of stats. If the last row says 1956, the card was marketed in 1957. So, if the copyright symbol is followed by T.C.G., and the last row of stats says 1956, the card is a 1957 Topps. You can also go to our How to Identify a Card section for more help. If you still can’t find a match, send us a picture of the card by email or text.
- Sort all cards by year & manufacturer
- Make an inventory list of the collection. Write down the stars (Mickey Mantle, Joe Namath, and Bill Russell) individually by year/manufacturer, then count the remaining (common) cards and write the number down. Proceed for each year/manufacturer. These steps can be very tedious, but it will help you get a general idea of the collection’s contents. This list is also a great start to helping us determine the price range for the collection.
- Get an idea of the grade (condition) of your cards. See our How to Grade a Card section for help. Knowing the grade is the most critical factor when determining the value of a card. Make an attempt to personally grade a few of the stars. Grading is very complicated because it requires you to take several factors like corner wear, centering, creases, scuffing, stains, focus, etc. into account and coming up with ONE grade! If you feel a little out of your depth, it’s OK, most people feel that way when learning how to grade a card. If you need a lifeline, send us a photo of the front & back. We will assess the card’s grade and then talk you through how we determined that grade. Now it is time to put a price on the cards. Once the grade is determined, you can look at historical prices for any card in the same grade. We use vintagecardprices.com (VCP). You can also look under ‘SOLD ITEMS’ on eBay. If you want a real eye opener, research the prices for the card in every grade from Nm to Poor. Why does the card sell between $2000 and $200!?!? It’s because of the difference in the grade of the card. Another really good tool is Beckett’s price guide. This will help you understand how a card’s price is determined, in a given grade, as a percentage of the NM Beckett price.
Beckett retail prices, by grade, are as follows;
Near Mint (Nm) – Stars generally sell for 100% of Nm Beckett, commons 50-80%
Excellent Mint (ExMt) – Stars generally sell for 65% of Nm Beckett, commons 30-50%
Excellent (Ex) – Stars generally sell for 40% of Nm Beckett, commons 20-30%
Very Good to Excellent (VgEx) – Stars generally sell for 30% of Nm Beckett, commons 15-20%
Very Good (Vg) – Stars generally sell for 20% of Nm Beckett, commons 10-15%
Good (G) – Stars generally sell for 15% of Nm Beckett, commons 7-10%
Poor (P) – Stars generally sell for 5-10% of Nm Beckett, commons 3-5%
- Find a dealer you can trust. Do some internet research, use word of mouth, or read dealer testimonials. Talk to several dealers and engage with the one who treated you kindly, explained things clearly, and was the most transparent about the process. This can be intimidating, but when it comes down to it, you need to find someone you can trust.
- Bring in an expert you can trust, call Kurtz Kardz. Check out Our Testimonials.
- How can I get a price estimate from Kurtz Kardz? To start the process, take front & back pictures of 10 star cards and email or text them to me. After a review of your pictures, I will contact you with a price estimate for the 10 cards. Next, we should have a conversation about my price estimate for the cards. This conversation will usually center on the grade (condition) of each card. At this point I can explain the grade of each card, and how I came up with the price estimate. If we come to a general understanding on the price for the 10 cards, it is time to email us the entire list. After I review the list we need another conversation so I can get an understanding of the overall grade of the collection. Most childhood collections span 6 years, the first 2 years are usually wrecked, the next 2 years are usually in average (Ex) condition, and the last 2 years are usually much nicer, sometimes even in Nm condition. Once I have all of these data points, I can make a price estimate for the entire collection.
- You ask ‘Why a price estimate instead of an offer?’ Sometimes there are issues or defects with a card that cannot be seen in a picture. To come up with an offer I need to evaluate the cards in person. More often than not, my price estimate is pretty close to my offer.
- How do I get the cards to Kurt so he can make that offer? See our explanation in ‘How to Engage with Kurtz Kardz’ below.