Baseball Cards: The Storage Unit Find
Boxes and Tubs of Stuff
Need for Inventory
So if you’ve read my previous baseball-card related hubs, you’ll know that I constantly have issues with inventory. Either, I don’t have enough, or I don’t have the right kind, or on rare occasions I have too much. I recently sold off a huge chuck of vintage cards, leaving myself with some modern cards but not a lot of stuff in general. I needed to get some inventory back in and I needed it quickly. I'd have preferred Vintage but at this point, anything would be helpful.
That all changed a week ago.
My Car - 2004 Highlander
How Much Can You Really Take?
My wife’s uncle used to collect cards and anything even remotely related to them. He bought a lot of stuff and he didn’t discriminate, buying all four major sports, non-sports cards, magazines, you name it. He stopped collecting quite some time ago and what he has is sitting in a storage unit. I offered to go through it and make us both some money. I knew there was a lot of stuff. I did not know just how much stuff there was. As it turned out too much for one trip.
Hall of Famer: Greg Maddux
Singles, Set and Wax boxes...Oh My!!
I brought back twenty large boxes/tubs of cards. Twenty. Each tub contained binders, full binders with sets in them. Some were small binders, some were full size binders. Several boxes included factory sets, other boxes held hand-collated baseball and football sets. One box was magazines; old Baseball Digests, Beckett Baseball Card Price Guides and yearbooks (Mets and Yankees). There was a huge amount of non-sport cards, closed boxes of non-sport cards (remember Marvel cards from the early 1990’s?), closed boxes of baseball card packs (all junk wax era stuff including 1989 Upper Deck).
It was mindboggling. Remember all of those small sets Fleer and Topps used to produce for every retail store in creation? I had a whole box of them. Closed Traded/Update/Rookies sets from 1986/87. Yes, lots of Maddux and McGwire cards as well as Barry Bonds rookie cards. A hand collated 1985 Topps set was missing McGwire but had every other card. You get the picture here.
I even found a 400ct box of vintage cards that included 150 cards from the 50’s and 60’s and 200 cards from 1978-79. Wasn’t spectacular but it helps build up the vintage offerings. Thousands of cards in 5000ct boxes to go through. It was absolutely intense.
How do you attack 150,000 cards quickly?
1987 Donruss - A Classic Set
A Weird Yogi as a Met
Start With What You Know Best
Well actually, that’s not entirely true.
I started by separating all of the non-sport cards and putting them away. There isn’t anything to do with them anyway. I can move them, but there isn’t any reason to sort them. I also removed anything that wasn’t cards. The box of magazines and books was put in the attic for now. There were two binders that contained a run of magazines from the 70's (completely not sports related) and lots of weird related products (stickers and NASCAR toys) which also got removed from the bulk.
Then I attacked the baseball cards first. There were many sets that I wanted to crack open. There were just as many that I had no intention of opening as there was nothing in them I actually needed. With this much bulk, it's important to decide exactly what you want to do. Take out Stars, Rookies, Inserts, Parallels and regional cards (for me that's Mets and Yankees).
Yes, these cross over at times. It doesn't matter, just separate them. I cracked 3 1993 Topps sets in order to take the Jeter RC out. He's a star, it's a rookie card and he's a Yankee. Ultimately he goes with the Yankees cards but so long as it's put aside, that's all that matters. This particular lot of cards included many stars. At times, there were 10 Cal Ripken cards in a row, the same card. Do I need all 10? Probably not so I take only 3 or 4. This happens throughout the entire lot. He obviously opened a lot of stuff.
I grab lots of stuff as I sort. Many of my buyers like the low end stuff so I fill in 3 for $1 binders with stuff, I have $1 boxes for rookies and basic stuff. I also have buyers for cards of retired players, mainly on reprints though there are many newer sets over the past 15 years that feature retired and older players. So one binder has a complete 1953 Topps Archives set and one of the 5000ct boxes has another 500 card of overflow from that set. Lots of classic Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers and NY Giants reprints. There was a complete Conlon Collection set, the 1988 and 1989 Pacific Legends sets (I'd seen singles of this but never a set in the package) and probably a box worth of 1994 Ted Williams collection cards (yes I pulled the Jeter out of that along with all of the old stars). It all sells.
I find player collectors of these retired players like finding cards of their favorite players with different pictures than the ones they already know. The Yogi Berra card in the Pacific set features him as a Met of all things, the Lou Piniella card as a Seattle Pilot. The Ted Williams cards I feature many pictures never used before. This slowed my sorting down because it was a blast to look at and read (OK, I'm a fan too, leave me alone!).
Sorting all of this baseball stuff took about 18 hours of work. That was just to separate it from the commons. I still hadn't gotten around to pricing anything yet but I'm pulling out insane stuff. Lots of rookies and stars but also crazy amounts of inserts and parallels. All of which I'll eventually have to prepare for pricing (soft-sleeve and top-loader).
Oh wait, I forgot, he has a box of supplies too. Soft sleeves, top loaders, team sets and specialty pages for, believe it or not 1989 Bowman sets and mid-80s Donruss large sets. This was amazing and out of control. As I looked through some of the binders, sure enough, some were filled with sets of the large 3x5 cards from Donruss and later Pacific made some football sets like this. It's amazing that he bought this stuff. I wouldn't even know where he got some of this. There was some truly oddball stuff in the lot as well.
2000 Impact Tom Brady RC
2000 Dominion Brady RC
1996-97 Collector's Choice Kobe RC
Next Up.... Football and the Rest
While not a Football Card Collector anymore, I remember all of it. I used to carry as much football as baseball years ago but I'm a much bigger baseball fan. I gathered all of the football stuff together, only to find that there was small sets I wouldn't bother opening and lots of "just plain stuff". I whipped through this grabbing stars, rookies, inserts, parallels and Jets and Giants cards. So I'm idly working through some 2000 Skybox Dominion and I come across a Tom Brady rookie card. There were four of them and an Impact card as well as a Blue parallel Sage HIT card. I have been asked to pull together top football star cards so I identified several and started to keep them separated. These include Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Barry Sanders. After sorting through this lot, there's nearly 600 cards of these players. The football stuff doesn't go far past 2001 with just a little from 2004 (yes I pulled an Eli Manning RC).
I'll be honest, I've had this all for nearly a week and I'm still pricing the baseball stuff. I don't even know what I have sorted out in the football stuff except for a few choice cards with the Brady RCs. I can see lots of stuff I remember like Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens RCs and Peyton Manning inserts in the mix as well as an enormous amount of inserts from sets I don't know.
There was little basketball cards in this lot (I'm sure there are more in the stuff I left behind) but I still pulled 3 Kobe Bryant RCs, 4 Tim Duncan RCs, and 4 Steve Nash RCs along with half a dozen Michael Jordan cards.
There were even some hockey cards in this lot which I expected, since he bought everything else.
So What's Next?
As I'm only doing two shows a month right now, it may take some time but there is a lot of stuff to sell and still some other stuff to sort through at a later date. After pricing most of the baseball stuff, I've priced out nearly $2500 of cards with another 300-400 dollar cards at least, and I don't know how many 3/$1 cards, perhaps 1000 or so. Just an amazing haul of stuff, and I haven't even handles the other stuff yet.