‘How Can I Sell my Baseball Cards?’
‘Where can I sell my baseball cards’ is probably one of the most common questions asked since card collecting existed. Even long-time collectors, at one time in their lives, will get to that point. A similar question I personally get quite a bit is, ‘Where’s the best place to buy pre-war cards?’
My answer is generally the same for both. When it comes to buying and selling baseball cards, eBay is king. It’s by far the most common place to buy and sell cards and, with a solid return policy in place, buyers have a good amount of protection there. It’s not perfect but when you add up all of the positives and negatives, it’s the biggest marketplace there is when it comes to baseball cards.
But it goes far beyond eBay for many collectors. I recently asked the question to collectors on Twitter and got plenty of responses aside from that popular website.
Here are some options for how to buy and sell your baseball cards.
Facebook offers a marketplace where buyers and sellers can interact . It’s still relatively new but is being used heavily by baseball card collectors these days for the buying and selling of sports cards. While it doesn’t have the reach of eBay, it is popular with sellers as there are no fees associated with it.
Even outside of Facebook’s formal marketplace, other collectors also enjoy buying on selling through ‘regular’ Facebook through established groups/pages, buying directly from family, friends, or acquaintances. You are generally selling to a smaller audience than eBay but there are deals to be made. One advantage to that is that if a buyer or seller is close enough, the hassle of shipping can sometimes be avoided. And if you are in a particular group dedicated to one type of collecting, you are more likely dealing with people enthusiastic about stuff you have.
In addition, while Twitter doesn’t have a formal marketplace like Facebook, it is starting to become more known by collectors as a place to buy and sell. I’ve noticed many cards seem to sit there quite a bit, likely because they are not ‘priced to sell.’ Still, it is a place where collectors are increasingly more interested in buying and selling.
COMC works for a lot of buyers and sellers. It’s quickly become one of the primary places to buy cheaper cards in bulk.
As a seller, you benefit because they basically do all the work for you from listing the card to shipping it to a buyer. The downside, of course, is that they obviously charge a fee to do that. As a buyer, you get the advantage of combined shipping and a fairly large inventory. It’s basically a win-win for both sides in terms of convenience.
It’s generally better for newer, less expensive stuff, so doesn’t fit the pre-war collectors quite as well as it does modern collectors. Now, I have bought pre-war stuff there. A good amount of it, actually. But many of the prices on pre-war cards are above what you’d pay elsewhere and there’s not the selection you’ll find on eBay (though, to be completely fair, you can say that about any medium).
In short, COMC is great for cards that are a bit more modern than the pre-war era. For pre-war cards, it’s kind of a grab bag.
Message Boards/Online Collector Groups
Message boards and online collector groups are another venue to buy and sell. This one is a bit trickier since they are usually less policed – particularly where buying is not the sole function.
As a result, these sorts of pages/groups can have more issues during transactions. When buying, you’re generally going to be better off by using Paypal Goods or some other mode of payment that will cover you if a transaction goes south. As a seller, you also want to try to avoid selling to just anyone as you could find yourself the victim of a scam and always ship with tracking and insurance.
Still, sites like Net54 have an active page and it’s another option for both buyers and sellers.
While creating your own website might not be the answer to selling your cards, as a buyer, you can have some luck here.
Many dealers sell cards online through eBay. But while some offer their cards there, others opt for having their own website to avoid the need to pay fees on eBay. These sites aren’t often well-publicized and you often have to know where to go. But Googling certain cards you’re looking for will sometimes bring up those cards on dealer websites.
You can also visit those sites to sell cards, too. Almost any dealer will claim to be buying cards as well. What they are willing to pay or buy will vary. But reaching out to a dealer through his/her website can be a way to sell your cards as well.
This is probably the biggest one trending downward. Both shops and shows are still popular but, with the internet, they just aren’t the mandatory avenues for buying/selling that they were in the 1990s.
Most people frequenting them as buyers are more so doing it for the human interaction. So if that’s your thing, you will probably still find them incredibly useful.
What I find interesting is that the offerings of shops and shows seem to have evolved quite a bit. Before, these things were strictly about buying and selling cards with maybe an occasional autograph appearance. Now, you’ve got things like box breaks and autograph appearances with dozens of guys. The pure buying and selling of cards is still front and center but you also have a lot of collectors that are focused on buying into breaks or standing in lines for autographs.
As sellers, setting up at a card show can be a way to try to sell your cards. But you’ve also got to the know the audience to see if it’s right for you.
I recently attended a show where a dealer had a full setup of pre-war cards. As a pre-war collector, I loved it. But he sold few items as most collectors there were looking for post-war or modern stuff. It can be quite an investment as a seller to buy a table, price your cards, and add in the travel time and expenses like gas/hotel.
Finally, if you’re just trying to sell off a collection, you might be disappointed by what you are offered at a card shop. Keep in mind, card shops have to cover overhead expenses and then spend time to try to sell the card themselves. As a result, they’re not going to be enthusiastic if you’re trying to sell cards that are not all that rare.
And don’t forget that card shop owners have the same buying opportunities online that you do. In the 1990s they may have been forced to pony up a bit more for your cards when fewer options were presented to them. Now, they can likely find what you have online.
Craigslist / Local Advertising
If you’re a buyer or seller and don’t want to deal with the hassle of shipping items, Craigslist or local advertising might be an option.
These items require some personal interaction on your part so if that’s not your bag, you might not exactly feel comfortable with allowing a total stranger to come to your house to complete a transaction. But it’s a way to quickly get cold, hard cash.
Buying and selling here can be a bit risky – especially when you’re talking about high-dollar items. Reprints are commonly passed off as authentic items and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to fall victim to a scan with relative ease. But there are sometimes deals to be had, too. Sometimes that woman selling her ex-husband’s cards is totally legit. Sometimes.
Flea markets remain very popular and while cards may not be the focal point, you can sometimes do well there as both a buyer and a seller.
The key word here is patience. You might visit a flea market with dozens of dealers and find only one that has any kind of baseball cards. And as a seller, you can’t expect that everyone that passes by will be interested in your stack of early 1900s caramel cards. Again, know your audience here. I’ve personally found that flea markets, in general, are better for post-war vintage and modern cards than they are for pre-war cards.
Finally, more traditional auction houses are an option for larger collections or higher-priced items.
While many may charge you a fee to sell your cards, if you have something particularly desirable, many will not. Most auction houses already make money from buyer premiums (an extra fee buyers pay in addition to their bid for the right to buy the item) so sellers can sometimes get away without a paying fee. If you’ve got a high-priced item, this is often the best way to go.
But traditional auction houses, especially the more popular ones, aren’t good for everything. Many only want higher-priced items and have zero interest in helping you sell a single low-grade T206 common.
In terms of buying, auction houses are sometimes the only source for collectors of ultra rare items. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind item, auction houses such as REA and Heritage are a good place to start.