Selling Semi-Vintage Baseball Cards (1970s)
Dean was the one who coined the term "Semi-Vintage" for the sports cards from the 1970's. It seems to make more sense and reduce confusion for both collectors and card sellers. We can buy 1970s collections under a couple of circumstances. First, if you have complete sets from the 1970s and second if you have at least a few thousand cards from the 1970s in fairly pristine condition.
Semi-Vintage Cards have been gaining popularity over the last decade or so. Dean's Cards has made a big effort to support these cards, because the cards from the seventies have allowed a new generation of vintage card collectors to enter the hobby due to the affordability of the cards. Besides, many of the guys that collected these cards as kids are now middle aged and starting to come back into the hobby. The Cards from the 1970's are still very affordable and readily available, but unlike the cards from the 1980's, where there are millions of cards available, completing a set can be a fun challenge.
Semi-Vintage Cards are a great entry point into the hobby. This trend is a positive for the industry and we want to do all that we can to encourage new people to start collecting vintage cards.
Semi-Vintage Cards have been traditionally ignored by dealers. Dean's Cards is one of few card dealers that sells the individual cards from the 1970's. The reason for the lack of dealer interest has been the low price of the cards. Dealers can make more money selling the older cards. Simply put, it costs a dealer the same amount to value, bid, put into plastic sleeves, grade, sort, enter into the database, scan, file, retrieve, and then mail a 50 cent card as it does a $250 card. This makes for a much lower (or non-existent) profit margin.
There were still some valuable cards made in the 1970s.
Cards from the 1970's are very common and there are many of the cards in existence that are in the same great shape as they were when they came out of the packs. Therefore the collectors of 1970's cards tend to be very picky in terms of the card's condition. Seventies Cards that were badly abused (my boyhood cards come to mind) are almost worthless.
Another drawback is that Semi-Vintage Cards can be more difficult for a dealer to buy. Even though we see ten times the number of semi-vintage cards available for purchase, when compared to the number of vintage cards available - they can be laborious to purchase. The value of the bid is usually lower, because the cards are worth less. As a result, the success rate of buying the (lower margin and less popular) seventies cards was lower. It takes us almost as much time to bid on a $50 collection as it does a $500 collection - with a much lower success rate.
It is an interesting study in human nature. For example, if a seller sends us a box of cards from the 1960's and gets an offer of $500 for the cards - they are thrilled. That same seller could send the same box of cards - filled with cards from the 1970's and because the cards have less value, we may only be able to offer $50. In some cases, the seller feels insulted. In these cases, we spend time and postage with no positive result. This is the reason that the majority of dealers do not handle cards from the 1970's.
Inventory Manager, Tara, sorting through some 70s cards.
We are not opposed to buying collections from the 1970's, but we can not afford the time and cost involved to go through a bidding process on them. All too often, we will make a fair bid and the seller thinks the collection is worth more. We then have to send it back. It turns out to be a waste of everyone's time and shipping costs. As it turned out - the older, more valuable collections are much easier to buy. We have found that over 90% of our bids on the older collections are accepted by the sellers, where as the success rate on the newer collections was less than 50%!
Unfortunately, baseball cards are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. That fact does not always make sense to me and can be down right perplexing to the novice. There have been occasions where what we paid in postage to return cards was worth far more than the value of the collection!
We would very much like for you to send us your semi-vintage cards. We want to buy them, but we are forced to treat these cards a little different than we do the older cards. We will value them fairly and send you a check. We will certainly pay you fair market value - probably much more than you will receive elsewhere - but you will have to trust our judgment on these particular cards. Please understand - We can not return the cards - but simply send you a check. Please do not send the cards if you are going to be disappointed. I am sorry that we must be so rigid, but these are the only conditions that work for us on semi-vintage cards.
That said; we would love to buy your semi-vintage cards. We will do the best that we can in terms of payment, but many of these collections have a low or marginal value. Some people have received some very nice checks. The point to take away here about semi-vintage cards is that they definitely have some value, but it also important to have realistic expectations about their worth. The seller is just not going to get rich selling a semi-vintage collection.
By Dean Hanley