People collect cards for all sorts of reasons. But while the 1990s caused some amount of heartburn for collectors who lost a lot of money when their modern cards were largely deemed to be worthless, Forbes.com has a new article looking at cards as a sound investment.
The article doesn’t merely consider the point – some research done by Brent Huigens of PWCC seems to suggest that cards have performed stocks. Essentially, Huigens compared the S&P Top 500 Firms vs. the top 500 trading cards (minus the Honus Wagner T206, which isn’t frequently sold) and found that the cards have done considerably better.
The research is further validation that card collecting can be more than simply a hobby. So, given all of this, should you invest in cards?
Well, no one can predict the future. And I would never try to give financial advise on what you should or shouldn’t do with your money (and, legally, this shouldn’t be construed as financial advise in any way). My advice to anyone that has asked me this question in the past is that my personal approach has generally been to spend only what you wouldn’t miss if all of your cards suddenly disappeared or were worthless. If you do that, you won’t be disappointed from a financial perspective. Problem solved.
For me, collecting remains mostly a hobby and I’ve tried my best to stick to that advise. Sure, I have some cards that I consider small investments but collecting for me has always been almost entirely about the joy of having cards. It’s one of the reasons I rarely sell items. But if you have the mindset that the cards essentially hold no value, when you do go to sell them, you generally shouldn’t be panicked whether they’ve lost value or not.
Maybe (gasp) you’re in this for the money, though.
I always find it funny when ‘real’ collectors bemoan that idea, looking with flippers with some measure of derision. But the reality is that, while some collectors may not embrace the idea of solely investing in cards while having no emotional attachment, the more people involved in this hobby the better. If a person is merely buying cards with the sole reason to flip them, I’ll always welcome that with open arms. After all, that’s far better than not having him/her involved at all. At the end of the day, the more interest in cards, theoretically, the higher values should remain.
Finally, while I consider myself mostly a collector, I’m not stupid. Of course I don’t want to see any of my cards lose value and if I’m fortunate, they’ll become more valuable.
As I said, I’d never advise anyone what to do financially with their card collecting habits, but the stability of pre-war cards is one reason I’ve personally gravitated to them and they’ve proven to be a tremendous investment thus far. The values of pre-war cards, even commons, have increased dramatically over time. Certain cards in the post-war era have as well. But it’s very difficult to find many pre-war cards that have decreased in value, particularly over a long period of time.
Some of the ultra rare, ultra expensive stuff can fluctuate a good bit just because there are often only a small number of collectors that can afford five-figure and six-figure cards. But, if you take pre-war cards as a whole from, say, 1980, values have gone through the roof.
There may come a day when cards are no longer a sound investment. But if pre-war cards take a major hit, my guess is that other stuff will suffer even worse. Of all of the cards out there, pre-war cards have perhaps been the one thing in the hobby that have steadily climbed. Even quite a bit of other post-war vintage stuff, barring the high-grade stuff, which has seen some crazy climbs, has grown slowly or remained stagnant. Or even lost value.
Like I said, I don’t really collect as an investment. But I feel pretty secure when thinking about the day when I finally do sell my cards because, in general, pre-war stuff continues to rise.