Saturday, January 30, 2010

A first look -

A little while back I featured on this blog. A similar setup is the relatively new site Like this website allows users to search for cards on their want list by player name or by sport, then year, set and so on. Find a card you want, have a look at the scan, add the card to your virtual shopping cart - it is that simple. Yes you get to look at a scan of the actual card you are buying! You can also make offers on cards if you don't like the price listed. The cards are then shipped from directly! That's right - all of the cards listed on their site are held in their inventory. This is unlike where the cards stay with the individual sellers and are only stored collectively in the website's database.

As a seller of cards you send the cards to the folks at, they scan each and every card, lookup book prices and add them to their system. You then login and set asking prices - the website stores your cards and ships them out for you! As a seller there are no orders to fill or multiple trips to the post office! Cards that are sold yield store credit which you can then use to purchase other cards or cash it out! Happy shopping! Till next time!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

buying raw vintage

There was a recent discussion on the network 54 vintage hockey collectors forum about the pros and cons of getting vintage raw sets graded and by which company. The conversation precipitated into a discussion of PSA versus SGC.

Further along in the thread there was a discussion about the risk of buying seemingly high grade raw singles from dealers. The comment was that collectors should be weary about making such a purchase. The argument is that if a dealer was able to purchase truly high grade singles they would have them graded so that they could flip them for maximum profit. So if the cards were left in their raw state it must be because there is some hard to spot flaw which would negatively affect their grade, or possibly the cards had been submitted but did not receive the grade anticipated by the dealer and were subsequently cracked out. Of course there is also the chance that raw cards have been altered - creases pressed out, corners rebuilt, recolored, etc.

Indeed the last time was at the Expo in Toronto high grade singles were difficult to find. There were a few stacks of high grade singles but indeed the dealers knew what they had, knew the potential of the cards to get 9's or possibly even a rare 10 and charged accordingly - in some case 5-10X high Beckett value.

For me I am happy with collector grade cards in my 60s and 70s sets - cards that grade EX+-NRMT - these cards would grade professionally from 5-8 and hence there is little financial upside to the dealer or I to consider sending them off to the "encapsulators"! Till next time.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

purchasing to fill those want lists

I certainly like to fill my wantlist by trading wherever possible. It seems to justify (at least in my mind) why I hang all to all those dupes year after year after year. I have been successful doing these completing over 250 trades both large and small over the last several years. The internet has been essential in this process. People traded long before the internet but the process was certainly much more difficult and time consuming. These days a few quick emails or a msn chat can set up a trade in seconds. There are times, however, when it seems impossible to find those last few cards on your wantlist. Sometimes it is the case that all of your trading buddies are looking for the same few cards or you have missing cards from older sets and your friends have long since moved on. In these instances I look to various online sites which a huge inventory of cards available.

In this posting I will talk about boasts over 31 million cards in their inventory - these cards are offered from over 1000 different sellers. It appears that all inventory is kept with the individual seller - the seller simply adds the cards for their sale to the website's master database. Each seller sets postage rates as well with many offering discounts for volume purchases. Payment is available by check/money order or by paypal - it is possible to pay on one invoice for many orders from different sellers - this can be handy especially if not using a credit card to send payment. Most of the available inventory is sold in a fixed price format by does have an auction selection as well.
Some sellers allow the user to make counter offers on some cards. A feedback system is used to provide buyers with information about sellers business practices.

In my experience prices tend to be higher on star rookie cards than the average final selling price on Ebay. Sportlots does not charge sellers to simply list items - sellers only get charged on % of their sales. As a result it appears that a lot of sellers simply list all of their inventory - if it sells at a high price then great, if it doesn't sell then nothing is lost only the time to list the item. However, it can be useful for picking up those missing cards that have been eluding your best efforts for sometime!
Till next time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Online Price Guides - a look at the alternatives

Even if we have no interest in selling our collections most collectors like to have some idea of the value of our cherished items. Traditional price guides are great - we like to read the articles (however sparse!) and traders often agree to trade items based on
book price - often opting to use to the Beckett price guides.

Collectors also have no desire to overpay for their items so again we check price guides to get some idea of the typical selling price for items. Traditional print price guides are often not always accurate in this regard - and I find myself checking completed auctions on Ebay and other auction sites to gather info. Ebay only allows users access to completed auction results for a short period of time. This is where a website like starts to shine.

This website allows users to search completed auction results from around the internet for pricing info for free. There is also a premium user option (for a fee) which allows you to store your complete collection and track its value over time. Below is an example search query and result for a 1986 Patrick Roy card. I will be reviewing other similar sites in the near future. Till next time.

Friday, January 8, 2010

sorting those cards

OK we have all been there. Either we just opened a new wax box of the latest and greatest product or finally decide to sort that monster box that has been sitting on the bottom of the closet. I have a great time leafing through big stacks of mixed up cards - seeing what sits inside those long forgotten piles but when it comes to actually putting a large number of cards in numerical order it drives me crazy after a while. The novelty soon wears off.

So here is where collecting cards and mathematics combine! I typically use a bucket sort algorithm which is really just common sense. One way is to take all the cards and put them in order one at a time (this is really bad idea based on the number of decisions you brain has to make). A better technique is the so-called bucket sort algorithm. Suppose we have cards with possible numbers from 1-400 we first do a really rough sort into bins or buckets - say from 1-50, 50-100,...350-400 and then
we sort each pile. Each pile can then be sorted into their own buckets say 1-10,10-20,...40-50, once the buckets are of a decent size then we can sort directly. This turns out to be a much faster way - the actual time depends on the largest possible card number, the number of cards, and the size of the buckets to be used.

Of course this is the idea behind the trading card sorting trays that most dealers have had at one time or another!! Till next time - happy sorting.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

In Memory...

Well folks a quick apology for the lack of new posts over the holidays. This Christmas was certainly full of ups and downs. Just as the holiday was beginning we received word that my grandmother was admitted to the hospital and sadly on December 28th, 2009 she passed away. On the first day of the new year we laid her to rest.

As a result of young parents and good genes I enjoyed getting to know 3 great grandmothers and all of my grandparents during my 35 years. I certainly am a better person for knowing each and every one. My grandmother who recently passed away was indeed a collector and had a fond appreciation for history and genealogy - things I like to think I inherited from her.

She was an incredible lady - kind, loved to laugh and put family above all else. I am glad my kids got to know their great-grandmother. My duty will be to ensure that they are reminded of the great times they shared with her. Till next time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009 update and Happy Holidays to all!

Hi folks, well it is Christmas eve. The kids are settled in bed with thoughts of presents, Santa Claus and the
excitement of Christmas morning filling their heads.

In our family it has been a long tradition that each child gets a new pair of pajamas to wear to bed for Christmas eve.
My son, who is 4 years old, has a new pair of Montreal Canadian's pajamas. Yet today he was sporting a Toronto Maple Leafs
"Santa" hat !!! Talk about conflicted!!!

Some new mail yesterday contained my the "proceeds" of my first trade on the website. To get things going I decided to sort my dupes from 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Hockey to begin another set. I figured it would be easy enough for people to hit. Thanks to Terry for the first trade and a few hits to my wantlist. To be honest I have been a little underwhelmed with the response so far on In the new year I will have to increase my postings to their trading boards to try to generate a few more trades.

May your holiday season be everything you want it to be. I will return shortly with continuations of my sequence of posts on online trading sites and new series of posts on online price guides - including the old stand-bys and a few new ones that you may not know so much about. Till next time.