“eBay recent sold”: Goldmine or inflation?

“Beckett is dead.” That’s all I hear these days.

For someone stuck in the past, it’s difficult to accept that “Beckett is dead.” The baseball card pricing guides have been what I refer to for pricing both when I was big into collecting, and my recent resurrection of it. However, much like how everything else in the hobby has changed in the last 10 years, the concept of card pricing also has changed.

These days, a prime reference – apparently more so than Beckett – is a filtering tool used on eBay to track how much each card had sold for on the online auction website: commonly referred to in hobby speak as “eBay recent sold.”

I have to remember, though, that I’m comparing oranges to pomegranates when classifying myself in the hobby. Collectors now stalk the market like the New York Stock Exchange, and with highly valuable and slabbed “PSA 9/10” material. Me? I’m just an old school guy who’s looking for that 1977 Topps Vada Pinson card.

The hobby has become all about money these days, and it’s sucking the interest out of low-income collectors like me who aren’t about the money, and collect to collect.

Like any collector, though, I have a list of cards that I would like to add to the collection. They aren’t sexy cards by any means. However, because I don’t like to spend all of my money in one place, I place limits on how much I want to buy certain cards for. Sellers and dealers HATE hearing that, I get it; they think, “You want, I have, give me money.” However, I know that, in the “I want more money” scheme of things, they’re simply going to jack up the asking price of a certain card due to an assumption that “I see, I buy.” I don’t fall for those tactics.

I also have thwarted dealer traps of not giving me a price until after I am done looking through them; you never know if an imaginary number is influenced by the day’s sales or break-even table investment math. Want to prove this? Go to a table, get an asking price for a card at the beginning of a show; and have someone else go back to that same table in the middle of the day to find that same card and ask for a price; how often will you find two different prices? That being said, I really prefer tables and boxes that have a predetermined price on their cards over those who come up with arbitrary numbers out of thin air.

Tables that I find junk wax commons for $0.50 usually make me think, “This person doesn’t know shit.” However, I’ve found these kinds of boxes more and more over the years, even though these cards have remained steady at a NICKEL for 30 years. So what gives?

After hearing about the popularity of “eBay recent sold,” I gave it a try. I typed in names of common players, and, sure enough, the average is right around $0.50 pre-shipping. You can’t tell me that my 1987 Topps John Mizerock or 1992 Donruss Steve Wapnick is worth $0.50. You can’t tell me that I am sitting on a goldmine of common baseball cards that could garner me thousands and thousands of dollars. Just not happening. With commons, however, there really isn’t enough data to warrant that $0.50. You won’t find me paying more than a nickel for it, let alone shipping. And that leads to another thing: Shipping can be a money burner.

What I have described may be pure nonsense. After all, the hobby is all about much bigger-ticketed items.

Let’s take the current price of a 1988 Donruss Jay Buhner rookie card. Beckett has $0.75. Average of eBay recent sold is $1.25. If you have one to sell, which price seems better for you? Obviously the $1.25, because, well, you want money.

I don’t know how I feel about this.

What is the “correct” price?
Seller, who wants to make money: $1.25
Buyer, who wants to not spend a lot of money: $0.75

Let’s now use this philosophy toward the current price of gas.
What is the “correct” price?
Seller, who wants to make money: $4.09/gallon
Buyer, who wants to not spend a lot of money: $1.39/gallon (probably)

Is the cheaper price the “correct” price? If that is true, it would seem more feasible that Beckett pricing would be more for the buyer’s liking.

Or is the cheaper price an “incorrect” price?


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