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Valuing Collection is the First Step on the Road to Selling

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
July 3, 2005

Dear Babe: My husband has a Topps baseball card collection that contains approximately 1,500 cards from the 1962-1969 periods. They have not been graded. We have looked through different books to see what a few may be worth. I don't feel comfortable asking a price and not knowing if the card is that valuable.
Susan West, Arlington, Va.

Dear Babe: I have several hundred Topps baseball cards from the 1950s and early 1960s. I know I have a Hank Aaron rookie card as well as other Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, etc. cards. They are in pretty good condition.
Jim Wilson, Temecula, Calif.

No matter how you want to sell cards - retail through a newspaper ad, over the Internet or wholesale to a dealer - you have to know what they're worth. You, at least, have to have some idea. You've got some vintage cards. There are still collectors looking to complete sets for those years. Even the commons, especially high numbers, have value.

Your best bet is to pick up a Beckett monthly baseball guide, paying close attention to the page that explains how to grade your cards. Once you have an idea what's extra special, you can check out online auctions, especially eBay, to see what cards are bringing. It's important to check out completed auctions, because those show final prices paid and not prices asked. You have to register with eBay to see completed results. Anyone can browse through items for sale. You may want to consider picking up The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest or Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards. Those list every card in every set.

Da Babe doesn't offer advice on how or what to buy or sell. If you try to sell the whole kit and caboodle, whoever buys the cards is going to pay for the good cards and pretty much try to get you to throw in the commons.

If you have sets or near sets, you have a good shot at selling them, especially via Internet auctions. If you have some really nice older cards, you probably want to consider having them graded.

Beckett, Tuff Stuff and Sports Collectors Digest list upcoming shows where you can also check on prices or possibly find a dealer interested in the cards.

Dear Babe: I have a 45-rpm Tony Conigliaro record. It's titled "Why Don't They Understand." The song on the back is called "Playing The Field." It's an original copy on the Pen-Tone label. It still plays very well and is in near-mint condition.
Don Newbury, Methuen, Mass.

The record is nothing to write home about. It's worth around $25, said Phil Castinetti owner of in Everett, Mass., a suburb of Boston.

Dear Babe: I have a postcard of Roberto Clemente that was given to me around 1969. He signed it on the back.
Kevin Lankes, Cresson, Pa.

"I'd put this in the $300-$350 range unless the postcard itself has any value. I think Clemente signed his own mail," said Mike Breeden, a Tuff Stuff columnist and autograph expert.

BABE NOTE: Major League Baseball's All-Star FanFest moves to Detroit with the three remaining card manufacturers Topps, Upper Deck and Donruss/Playoff offering a number of promo cards available through wrapper redemptions. Unlike last year when all the cards featured Houston Astros, the promos won't be limited to just Tigers players.

All cards will feature the All-Star game logo on the front and the John Hancock FanFest logo on the back. Donruss, Topps and Upper Deck will each produce a regular card, a game-used jersey card and a dual-player card of Al Kaline and Ivan Rodriguez. All three cards will be available each day. There will be 10,000 regular cards and dual-player cards from each manufacturer. The game-used jersey cards will be limited to 1,000 each. You have to open five packs at the respective company's booth to get a card. Regular and dual-player cards will be traded for lower-priced products. You'll have to purchase and open five premium packs to get a jersey card. There is a limit of 10 copies per card, per customer. Jersey cards will be available only at designated hour-long intervals at each company's booth, and only 75 cards will be available during that hour. Here's a checklist, keeping in mind that all three companies will have dual Al Kaline/Pudge Rodriguez cards: Upper Deck (regular card Derek Jeter, jersey card Jeremy Bonderman), Topps (regular card Alex Rodriguez, jersey card Ivan Rodriguez) and Donruss (regular card Albert Pujols, jersey card Dmitri Young).

The John Hancock All-Star FanFest will be held at the Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center in Detroit from July 8 to July 12. It will be open from Friday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 8, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (July 9-11) and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 12.

About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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