Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Rant Incoming

Allow me to rant for a moment.

This encapsulates, for me anyways, what is infuriating about the modern trading card hobby. This card is a framed original buyback from the 2019 Topps Allen &Ginter set.  It is a 1/1.  What makes me mad about it? Let me count the ways:

  1.   Artificial scarcity. Don't get me wrong, I am not unilaterally opposed to scarcity. Chase cards make collecting fun. But, in an era where player (or team) collecting is common, it gets to a point where scarcity devolves into a vehicle for separating people from their money.  When I see some of the prices rare modern cards go for, particularly for the player du jour or the current hot prospect, I have to shake my head because it is most likely going to be a depreciable asset.

    There is a reason players like Mike Trout are known as generational talents. Joe Shlabotnick, who hit .325 in A ball, maybe hot in this years Bowman, but he still is unlikely to make it to the majors. Let's not even talk about the odds of having a yeoman's career. And make the Hall of Fame? Forget about it. Go ahead and spend $1000s on that 1/1 and feel free to brag about it on the Blowout forum.  When Joe washes out after a mediocre season with the AA Chattanooga Lookouts two years hence, you can probably use that card to level out a wobbly end table.
  2. Making old new.  I am mainly a set collector. But, I do have two player collections: Paul Blair and Johnny Antonelli.  When I look at the cards listed on the Trading Card Database, I see that I have well over half of the listed cards for these two men.  I don't expect I'd ever get to 100% because some of the cards listed were regional issues that are extremely rare. But, there is another things stopping me from getting there: vintage cards that Topps bought back, stamped it with some silver foil and sold it again in modern products.  I just don't get Buybacks.

    Similarly,  the card above is over 130 years old.  It is spectacular on it's own.  Is there really a significant population of modern collectors who think taking it and encasing it in a cardboard frame and stamping it 1/1 makes it even more valuable?  I guess there is. Just don't count me amongst them.
  3. Prices. This is probably less a standalone issue as it is the manif estation of the two previous points.  While I won't pretend to being the most knowledgeable person about the 19th Century A&G issues, I can state that the card above is no more or less rare than any of the other cards in the 50 card Fans of the Period set.  And, in the condition shown, I would probably be willing to pay between $12 and $15 delivered.  So, what justifies the asking price?  Is the seller just showing off and not actually wanting to sell?  Does he think he'll actually get that price?  Is there anyone who would actually pay it?

I've stopped buying from COMC as the prices being asked for cards I need for my vintage sets are out of line with what I can pay at in-person shows.  But, I did see another "raw" Fans card on the site which is more in line with the current market. See for yourself:

There is no way I'd spend over 10 times what the card is worth just because Topps put a frame around it and stamped it as a 1/1.  If you want to, have at it. But, I will judge you harshly. Okay, rant over.  I've said this before, but I'll be glad when all the Johnny-come-lately investor/collectors move on to the next big thing.

What I am listening to: It's the End of the World As We Know It by R.E.M.


  1. Ridiculous asking prices are excellent conversation pieces. Last Friday my buddies and I were at a show and we were laughing at some of the insane prices people were asking for autographs of some current A's players. It's like they didn't want to sell them or something.

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  3. But... but... but they've got the card on sale! Seriously though, I don't get it either. Thank goodness they didn't stamp the actual card. As for COMC's prices, I personally don't think that the site is long for this world, at least not in the form that it's been in up until now, so in my mind it doesn't do a whole lot of good to complain about something that isn't going to be relevant for too much longer.

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