How Much is that Card in the Window?

tradingcardblogAs the 2014 football season kicks off, collectors around the world are actively trading Seattle Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson logo patches cards, jerseys and other related memos. The unlikely Super Bowl champions hammered a crushing defeat to the favored Denver Broncos, 43 to 8. It was the largest point differential in 21 years. When it comes to sports, numbers matter. Where would sports be without its love affair with statistics?

Here’s another number: $4,000. That’s the value of a Russell Wilson trading card. It’s a 2012 Topps “BGS” graded “10” rookie card. Being a “10” puts it in a league of its own as a pristine piece of property. And it’s autographed by Wilson, conferring even more value. But is it really worth $4,000? How important is the BGS grading and what does that mean? BGS stands for Beckett Grading Services. They are one of several independent, marketplace authentication services that judge the quality on certain collectibles.

There are specific guidelines to follow when placing a value amount on trading cards, photographs, celebrity-owned objects and other sports memorabilia, first of which is the “paper trail” that supports an item’s authenticity.  At heart is the need to establish provenance, especially if the item is signed.  If the piece is a photo, size matters, as does the quality of the paper.  Is an item framed? Mounted? In a Plexiglas case?  These are all important factors to determine how much an item is worth.  If the piece is a trading card, the brand needs to be established. The best way is via a professional card-grading service.

Key Value Factors  

Key Value Factors, the criteria used to ascertain the quality and value of a certain collectible, can vary depending by the item in question. For example, trading cards can be assessed by the following factors:

1.     The card manufacturer’s name (Topps, Upper Deck, etc.)

2.     The athlete on the card’s name, the card number, and the card year

3.     Whether or not there are extras with the card that ties it to the player

4.     Whether or not it is autographed

5.     Whether or not it is mounted, framed, or in a case

6.     Whether or not it is graded by a card grading and authentication service like Beckett or PSA

In Authenticating Services We Trust

Fortunately, there are many legitimate authenticating services that collectors can rely upon for classifying and assigning values. Companies such as PSA (Professional Sports Authenticators) or MEARS (Memorabilia Evaluation and Research Services), follow best practices to issue certificates of authenticity, or COAs. The most reputable ones will share their entire process for authenticating items.

For more details on this topic, be sure to read “Sports memorabilia: What it’s worth & how to evaluate it” published in PropertyCasualty360 by clicking here.

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