The current (sad) state of card collecting

Thanks to Big League Stew, I stumbled upon this little eight-minute documentary about modern-day card collecting. Anthony Stalter watched it as well, so we’re going to discuss how card collecting has changed throughout the years.

John Paulsen: For me, card collecting started with basketball. I was never really into baseball as a kid (mostly because my dad preferred basketball and football, which he played in college), so my focus was on other sports. I had some old Topps football and basketball cards from the late ‘60s and ’70s, but I don’t really remember how I acquired them. Basketball cards were defunct for a while — Michael Jordan’s “real” rookie card could only be found in a regional set produced by Star — and once the mid-90’s hit, the NBA’s popularity blew up, so did the prices of those Star sets from the ’80s. I got into collecting for two reasons: 1) because I liked basketball (and to a lesser extent, football) and 2) I thought it was an investment that I could someday pass onto my son to teach him about the history of the sport (and about investing). Unfortunately, by the time I had some real money to spend on cards (when I was in college), the basketball card industry was so saturated with all the different brands and sets. Instead of going out and buying one or two rookie cards of your favorite player, now there’s 10 or 15 or more amongst all these different brands. The old rookie cards are iconic. I can still picture the first cards for Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, as well as Jordan’s Star rookie and his Fleer rookie, which came a few years later. With so many different brands/lines floating around, rookie cards have lost their appeal. The whole industry has lost its appeal for me, which is depressing because I probably have a few thousand cards stored under my bed that are worth a fraction of what they were 15-20 years ago. I was more of an individual card buyer than a pack or a box buyer. I bought a few packs and boxes in my day, but all those “commons” seemed like a waste. Anthony — how did you get into collecting and what do you think of the industry today?

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