Considering Autographs and Sports Cards as Investments
As anyone with a 401K or an IRA knows, the year 2022 has been horrible for traditional investments such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and money market accounts. Cryptocurrency? Even worse. Safe havens such as CDs, money markets and savings accounts still aren't paying much, and meanwhile inflation is raging at its highest level in decades. So this is as good time as any to contemplate the idea of collectibles -- specifically autographs and sports trading cards, which obviously is what AutographsForSale.com mainly offers -- as investment vehicles. The answer is complex, of course. Yes, many specific autographs and sports trading cards COULD be superb investments, possibly doubling or tripling in value in a matter of months. This actually occurred during the height of the covid-19 pandemic as millions of collectors stuck at home suddenly dove into the sports card and memorabilia world headfirst. Not everything skyrocketed in value, but plenty did. I'm sure lots of my customers were able to make good profits on things they bought from me that were suddenly underpriced. Believe me, there are quite a few sales I'd probably like to buy back if I could. On the other hand, it's incredibly easy for a well intentioned buyer to literally throw away money on a worthless fake. A year or two ago I got a call from someone who sounded like an autograph collector who wanted to be an investor. He seemed to be looking for the right material: high end autographs of the cream of the crop of modern athletes: Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Mario Lemieux etc. Unfortunately during our conversations he revealed that he had already purchased expensive autographed jerseys that based on his description, I knew to almost certainly be fake. He didn't seem to believe me, which is human nature. No one likes to be told they were swindled. As we continued talking, I realized this collector wanted bargain prices on my high end autographs while simultaneously prying free advice from me. I wasn't going to do either so I politely ended the call. In addition to avoiding fakes, you also have to concern yourself with external factors beyond your control. As far as sports autographs and cards, if the athlete is still active, his (or her) playing career -- including injuries, trades or free agency moves -- could drastically increase or decrease demand. So could OFF the field behavior, and in that case, usually negative. If you want to avoid risk, maybe stick to athletes who are retired. The lesson here is to educate yourself BEFORE spending any significant money on autographs (or sports cards) ESPECIALLY when you're looking at them as investments. I offer plenty of advice throughout this blog and there's so much more good information out there waiting for you to find it via Google. Most experts will recommend you restrict yourself to buying "authenticated" autographs and graded sports cards if you're looking for investments. That seems like a good rule of thumb, except there are many potential issues with autograph authentication which again, I've written extensively about here. As far as card grading. one could make the argument that ungraded cards have more upside if you really know what to look for and know which grading companies currently offer the most bang for the buck (this has been constantly shifting due to pandemic driven demand). On the other hand, you could make a mistake and waste money grading a card that wasn't worth grading (I've done that many dozen times). The bottom line is, autographs and sports cards CAN be excellent investment vehicles IF you educate yourself thoroughly and are careful about what you buy, where you buy it and how much you pay. It's not as simple as some would have you believe, but the potential is there for big profits (or big losses).