Collectible Cards: Where did their value go?

I spent some time organizing our garage last week during my days off, which also doubles as my ham shack. In going through more boxes we (specifically I) brought into our marriage and house when we moved in I ran across more collectible cards. Now, like many boys I was big into collecting baseball cards, starting the mid 1970s (1977 if I recall) up until 1995, give or take a few years. In fact my first part time job was working at a card shop in Poway, Procopio Enterprises. I remember it well.

I spent thousands of dollars on cards, memorabilia and other items. Many are preserved correctly, not bundled with a rubber band in a discarded shoebox. While in college I sold a portion of my collection ($3000 value) for about $1000 so I could purchase a mountain bike. Smart decision? Eh, probably not, but in looking over recent prices of my collection I am rather astonished at the lack of value in cards that are 30+ years old!

As a kid I recall turning pages in the Beckett Monthly for cards that were 20-30 years old and prices were quite high, especially rookie cards and Hall of Fame players. Now, as I look at what I might call my childhood heroes, names like Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg, all of which came out in 1983. Their prices are but a fraction of what I recall other 20+ year old cards worth when I was a kid.

I know times change and the hobby has definitely changed. No longer is Topps the only game in town. When I was collecting, Donruss and Fleer were the “other companies” and then Upper Deck burst onto the scene. Since then I have lost track of the number of new companies tossing their hat into the card collecting arena.

One thing that won’t be lost is my collection. When my son is a bit older I will bring out my childhood cards and we will go through them. Who knows maybe he will be interested in collecting as well. Now that I have a month subscription to the online Beckett I have started looking up cards and collectibles, but I am disheartened at the prices I see. But as my dad used to say, “It’s only worth that much if someone will pay for it.” So true dad, so true. For me, many of these cards are priceless, as they take me back to yesteryear, when I was buying packs or boxs and chewing that gum.