By Bill Madden / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, April 21, 2012,
It is five o’clock in the afternoon and “Mr. Mint” is sitting at his desk in his office in Mahwah, N.J., looking longingly at the telephone.
“I need this phone to ring,” he says. “I need to hear from somebody — anybody — with a treasure trove in their attic. It’s been too long. I need one more big find!”
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Alan Rosen, aka “Mr. Mint,” aka the “million dollar baseball card dealer,” aka “the buying machine” (as he variously describes himself on his telephone voicemail) is the last of a dying breed of baseball card dealers who make house calls — trying to hang on in a business that, like so many other businesses, has gone the way of the Internet and the changing times and cultures in America. In his 1980s heyday, Rosen routinely did around $8 million in annual sales of baseball cards, achieving a high of $9 million in 1989. In his 34 years as the pre-eminent baseball card dealer, Rosen, 66, estimates he’s bought and sold over $200 million worth of cards, including the crème de la crème, ultra-rare T206 Honus Wagner (of which there are about 40 known to exist) eight separate times.
“I think the longest I ever had a Wagner was about half a day,” Rosen said matter-of-factly. “To me, a Wagner is just like a cheeseburger or a pair of sneakers. It’s just merchandise. I even sold ‘half’ of the Wagner once. The card was literally torn in half. I saw it in a rare coin store and paid the guy $5,000 for it and then advertized it in Sports Collectors Digest as ‘half a loaf is better than none’. Sure enough, somebody paid me $10,000 for it!
“The secret to my success is always knowing what something will sell for.”
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