How to best sell my father's old-school collectible cards?
September 4, 2007 5:41 PM   Subscribe

So, my father has a ton of old (50's-60's) baseball/football/collector cards and is nearing retirement. I'd like to help him sell them. I've a lot of questions here.

We're talking the heyday of baseball, especially for the boomers. Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and the like, many of them rookie cards. There's also a lot of old football cards and those weird monster/comic book cards in his collection. When I last dug through them (several years back) there were a *lot* of impressive cards. They've been stored in shoe-boxes for a long, long time, but last I saw them, they were still in pretty good shape. We've talked about this before, but I'm headed up to see him this weekend, and would like to discuss this with him.

I know the market for collectible cards has taken a bit of a downswing, but I believe there's still a lot of value in these. My questions are:

1) What's the best avenue to sell these? I'm assuming there will be some variance between selling the individual classic cards vs. a grouping. Is E-bay the best resource? How would I value the lot of them as a whole to a big bidder?

2) What would be a fair commission on my part if I were to help him do this? This is something that we've brought up in the past, and we have a good relationship that I'd like to keep intact through it all. He's already talked about giving me a percentage of the take, fwiw.

3) What would the tax implications on my end be (assuming he doesn't just pay me under the table)? He's got a CPA that can take care of his side of the income from this.

For those that have specific questions about the cards and the best of the bunch, sorry, but I won't be able to answer those until Saturday afternoon at the earliest, but I'll post the best updates I can figure out both here and shoot you an e-mail (provided you have one in your profile).

Thanks.
posted by Ufez Jones to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You might want to send an email to the guys at Chicago Antiques Guide. They could give you some guidance, I'll bet.
posted by jeanmari at 6:24 PM on September 4, 2007


The best (and only) think I can think of is to take them around to your local baseball card shops. Where do you live? Are there a lot of shops in your area? I don't know about ebay, but like everything else, that does seem to be the best chance to make a lot of money.

And if you've got Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle cards in good condition, you can expect to get a lot of money for those. Buy some plastic display sleeves for the individual cards, but don't break up any sets.
posted by zardoz at 6:25 PM on September 4, 2007


Grouping them is easier for you, but will normally get you less money. Someone buying the lot will not want some of your cards, and won't pay as much for those.
posted by smackfu at 6:48 PM on September 4, 2007


If you have something like a 52 Mantle, I'd get it professionally graded (Beckett is one). You can also consign to auction. I don't understand you tax question because it makes it sound like your dad is going to sell them to you and you are going to make the big bucks from them. Who is going to claim the income if you make (for example) 10K from this? Someone would have to claim it as income.
posted by mattbucher at 7:09 PM on September 4, 2007


Sorry, a bit busy tonight, I'll answer some follow-up questions in the morning. But I'll go ahead and quickly address this one:

I don't understand you tax question because it makes it sound like your dad is going to sell them to you and you are going to make the big bucks from them. Who is going to claim the income if you make (for example) 10K from this? Someone would have to claim it as income.

Nope. I'd just be an agent, I guess, but would get x% of the income from the sale, which may or may not wind up being a substantial amount. In the vein of 'stumble upon a diamond' or 'catch Barry Bonds' record-breaking homer-ball' I'm curious as to if I would have to report such income in my tax-statement.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:34 PM on September 4, 2007


If you are paid for performing this work, you would need to report it as income. If your father was to generously gift you some of the money from the sale of the cards, you would not have to pay tax on it.
posted by yohko at 7:45 PM on September 4, 2007


Definitely buy a baseball card price guide for research purposes. Read it and check values of the cards (and learn about grading). Just bear in mind a couple of things:

1. In collectibles like sports cards, the condition of the item can mean the difference between something selling for x dollars and ten times x dollars.

2. Your opinion of an item's condition may vary widely from the opinion of an experienced collector.

3. The prices printed in the guide are not written in stone. Just because a guide says your card might be worth $1000 does not necessarily mean you will get that kind of money when you go to sell.

I am not familiar with the prices realized on sports cards on eBay, but with higher end "not quite antique" collectibles like Hall of Fame rookies from the 50s, you may want to consider consigning to an auction house like Hake's or Heritage Auction Galleries, because the high rolling bidders that your cards may appeal to most don't necessarily look at eBay. The nice thing about dealing with a reputable auction house is that they have an incentive for your item to sell at the maximum value, which means they might be able to give you advice on such things as whether or not to get the cards professionally graded.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:05 PM on September 4, 2007


I am NOT a tax expert but it seems like the easiest thing would be for your father to give you a gift since you are such a wonderful helpful son rather paying you a commission. I believe that gifts up to $10000 (or more) are not taxable to either party.
posted by metahawk at 9:08 PM on September 4, 2007


Listen to MegoSteve. If its really that good a collection, they'll be an invaluable help to connecting you with the right buyers. Plus, as with any reputable auction house, they'll also help you sort out the actually valuable from the seems-like-it-should-be-worth-something-but-its-not items.
posted by anastasiav at 9:21 PM on September 4, 2007


2. Your opinion of an item's condition may vary widely from the opinion of an experienced collector.

Second this. It's a particular problem when you're looking at a price guide, because a grade 10 may be worth a multiple of a grade 9, and you'll start seeing everything as grade 10. Then you go to a dealer and he says it's really a 7, and you think he's ripping you off.
posted by smackfu at 6:40 AM on September 5, 2007


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