When dealing with a collection 100’s of miles away, it is important there are no miscommunications. Below is a good example of a minor detail that was omitted that almost ruined a great deal.
A gentleman contacted me about a run of Baseball Sets from 1954 to 1979, Football Sets from 1954 to 1979, and Basketball Sets from 1957 to 1979. He provided images of the significant cards and after multiple phone conversations, we had a mutual understanding of the collection’s condition, retail value, and purchase price. The pictures of the 1957 Topps Johnny Unitas and 1958 Topps Jim Brown football cards made them look minty. As we began to narrow down the specifics and values, the collector and I spoke one last time before I traveled to buy the collection. During that conversation, he made an alarming comment, ‘I think the Topps Albums helped keep the cards in great condition over the years’. The words ‘Topps Albums’ sent a chill down my spine. The old time Topps Albums are legendary for leaving indentations across the corners of the cards, similar to photo albums. A possible non-disclosure or miscommunication like this can be disastrous. After a very difficult discussion, we decided it was no longer worth pursuing the sale of the collection. The value was now worth approximately 50% of my original estimate. We were both crushed!!
The Ray of Light
The seller was involved in several businesses over his career. He thought about our conversation for another week and then contacted a local card dealer who confirmed that the Topps Albums had lowered the grade of almost every card. After that meeting, he picked up the phone and told me to get in my car and get on the road because we were going to work this out. I was at a show in Ohio when he called, packed up in under 10 minutes, apologized to the Show Promoter, and caught a flight home. Once back in Denver, Colorado I got in my SUV and drove through a blizzard to get to his town the same day, or should I say very-very late that night!
We met the next day, and based on my recommendation, we started with the more significant cards. I dove right in on the football cards! After several hours we agreed on the purchase price for the more significant cards. I returned the next day, went through the rest of the collection and made the final offer. He said, and I quote, ‘Well all right then, do you want to see the rest?’ Now it was my turn to be caught off guard!
The Remainder of the Collection
He started bringing out boxes of duplicates from every sport and year, and the good news, there were NO album indentations! Now, being totally overwhelmed, I told him I didn’t have enough cash to buy the entire collection. Great problem to have, right? He said, and I will quote him again, ‘We are beyond that now, I’ll take your check’. It took another day & a half to complete the deal. Some of the beautiful cards we purchased included a 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan Rookie, 1968 Topps Johnny Bench Rookie, 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson Rookie, 1969 Topps Mickey Mantle White Letter, 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt Rookie, 1975 Topps George Brett Rookie, 1957 Topps Bob Cousy Rookie, 1957 Topps Bill Russell Rookie, 1961 Fleer Elgin Baylor Rookie, 1961 Fleer Oscar Robertson Rookie, 1961 Fleer Jerry West Rookie, 1969 Topps Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor) Rookie, 1970 Topps Pete Maravich Rookie, and a 1972 Topps Julius Erving Rookie. Some of the beautiful football cards we purchased included a 1955T All American Four Horsemen, 1957 Topps Paul Hornung Rookie, 1957 Topps Johnny Unitas Rookie, 1958 Jim Brown Rookie, 1962 Topps Mike Ditka Rookie, 1962 Topps Fran Tarkenton Rookie, 1966 Philadelphia Dick Butkus Rookie, 1966 Philadelphia Gale Sayers Rookie, 1971 Topps Terry Bradshaw Rookie, 1971 Topps Joe Greene Rookie, 1972 Topps Roger Staubach Rookie, and a 1976 Topps Walter Payton Rookie.
In all my 27 years, this is by far my favorite story, and the most significant purchase of my career.