On Thursday, I attended the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Convention Center was filled with table after table of sports memorabilia and cards. This picture of me, looking a bit disheveled, was taken after I had walked about 4 straight hours.
I saw someone selling a game-worn Virginia Squires warm-up jersey. I really had no idea how much it would cost, but I would have guessed around $700. You could have knocked me over with a feather when he quoted $25,000.
I guess he’s assuming that there is an old Virginia Squires’ fan who will just have to have that. He didn’t even seem negotiable. It is interesting that “game-used” is worth more than new.
Most cannot understand why anyone would want to pay money for cardboard, just because it has pictures of football or baseball players. At the Convention, there were lines for past and present athletes who were signing autographs. Again, there are a lot of people who just don’t have any interest in someone signing their name; unless they are writing them a check.
To put someone’s likeness on a card usually means that you have to pay them something for the right to do so. Sometimes, that involves large-scale contracts that are entered into with an entire league, for the specific rights to distribute “picture cards”.
In April, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was preparing himself for the upcoming NFL draft. (Yes, he is an Indianapolis Colt, so I ask for your patience as I insert him in blogs over the coming years. That’s fandom). His advisors learned that the Leaf Card Company had printed this card to the left, and were beginning to distribute it as his rookie card.
According to USA Today, his lawyer sent them a “cease and desist” letter to tell them to stop distributing this card without his licensing permission. Leaf responded by filing suit against Luck, alleging that they had the absolute right to print and distribute because they owned the rights to the US Army All American Bowl, where he had just earlier played.
In May, the suit was quietly dropped. Neither party gave any details about the dismissal. I’m guessing that Leaf decided that they didn’t want to try to win the battle and lose the war of public relations, that might also effect their NFL contracts in the future.
Sports collecting is big business. A 1951 Mickey Mantle Bowman card sold for 600K a few years ago. Recently, a rookie Honus Wagner card sold for 1.2 million. The 2 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch card has such great value because of the scarcity. The American Tobacco Company sold the cards between 1909-1911. Because Wagner was against Tobacco, he managed to stop the distribution of his card, so that only a few were sold.
It stands for the premise that something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.
For pic o’ day, I didn’t take this picture but I know what this feels like. Good for more walking. Guess it’s called a set of Escairs:
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