You’d think that at a time when so many people are losing their wealth, their jobs, and even their homes due to investors overvaluing all sorts of intangible investments, people would want to invest in something they can see. That they can touch. That, above all else, is characterized by some sort of certainty. You’d be wrong:
Many avid collectors spend a lifetime — and a fortune — in pursuit of the rare find: an undiscovered manuscript, a rare painting or storied artifact. But some hobbyists in the world of sports memorabilia pay thousands of dollars for a collectible they have never seen — or might not even possess.
In this niche field, collectors snap up unopened cartons and packages of sports trading cards. Then, they leave their purchases unopened, the contents forever a mystery. An unnamed bidder paid $13,000 at a July auction for 17 packs of unopened Topps baseball cards from 1953 to 1969. The packages could contain a valuable Ted Williams card. Or maybe not . . .
. . . In October, an unopened wax pack of 1955 Topps baseball cards sold for $1,891 at auction. Yet for all that money, the world may never know if the pack contained rookie cards of Roberto Clemente.
I spent a lot of time collecting baseball cards between, oh, 1977 and 1987. Unlike some, I never found divinity or the answers to the universe’s questions in my collection. But I did get a lot of enjoyment out of them. I sorted them. I admired them. I loved them. I laughed at them. Most of all I handled them. I guess that cost me a boatload of money.
This is nothing new, of course, as just about every guy my age figured out at some point in the mid-to-late 80s that cards were a bigger business than we first realized. It doesn’t make it any less sad, however, that the very thing that made these cards valuable to me — that I could sort, handle, and otherwise mess with them — is the very thing that renders them worthless today.
(Thanks to Pete Toms for the link)