Monday, March 21, 2005


When one is interested in trying to pick autographed non-sports cards that are likely to increase in value rather quickly there are several things related to popularity that one should look for.

1. Looks for cards signed by people who also have other autographed cards from other cards lines.

Example: Claudia Black has an autograph card for The Chronicles of Riddick and for Farscape. Karl Urban also has two signed cards from Xena where he played Caesar and Cupid, a signed card from Lord of the Rings where he played Éomer and an autograph card for The Chronicles of Riddick as Vaako.

2. Looks for cards signed by people who have some special exposure.

Example: When Tanya Ballinger & Kitana Baker appeared in the Miller Light "catfight" super bowl beer commercial, the value of their Benchwarmer cards jumped many fold. Actors that appear on major magazine covers, models that appear in Playboy, or other major magazines and Hawaiian Tropic Models tend to get higher prices on their cards.

3. Looks for cards signed by people who have projects in the works that are likely to give them greater public exposure.

Example: Carrie Stroup will appear in the new “The Girl Next Door” and “Starsky and Hutch” movies. This will likely increase the value of her Benchwarmer cards when the movies are released.

4. Look for autographs that have a special distinctive element:

Example: Cards signed in an unusual color ink, things like "hugs and kisses, measurements, hearts, happy face, XOXO, etc."

5. Look for cards that are showing higher numbers of bids. Generally cards that sell on e-Bay have 5 or less bids. When you see a card getting more than 5 bids you may what to keep your eye on it. It could be a sign of increased popularity. An exception would be a card put up at a price well under its average selling price. These cards are drawing interest only because they are under priced and may not even get the average selling price despite the high number of bargain hunters bidding on it.

6. When some of a model or actors' cards start to demand higher prices, it tends to drive up the price on all their cards over a rather short period of time.

7. Any autographed card under ten dollars is likely to be a good investment since most autographed cards rise to the ten dollar level within a year or two of release.

Now if you see a card that has more than one of the factors related above, it is a good bet it will begin to rise in price.

My advice for the investor in non-sports cards is, try to obtain professionally graded cards.

Collecting Non-sports Cards as an Investment

It is always best to think of collecting as a hobby for the pleasure of the activity rather than as an investment. That having been said, it is clear that collecting can have considerable financial reward. When considering the possible future increase in the value of a collection, one must consider the popularity of the card line and the rarity of the cards. It is best to stick to a theme when collecting for an investment. Better to have a complete or near complete collection on a single theme than many different types of pieces. Collecting autographed non-sports cards for investment has the special advantage that it not only taps into the card-collecting hobby, but also taps into the autograph-collecting hobby giving it extra wide appeal. Another advantage of collecting autographed cards is the size of the collection can be much smaller than a collection of base cards. Since the value of the cards tends to follow the success of the actor or model, one can sometimes get an extra insight into the future value of the cards by tracking the actor or models career. Another advantage of collecting autographed cards is the size of the collection can be much smaller than a collection of base cards.

Factors that determine the value of a collection

This brings us to the question of what factors determine the value of a collection or even a single trading card. The factors are rarity, popularity, condition, theme, artistry, vintage and nostalgia. These factors affect the value of any collection of any type, not just trading cards.

Rarity: This is the single most important factor in the value of any collection. The value increases in rare items always exceed those of more common items other factors remaining equal. If one is interested in collecting for an investment, choosing to collect the more rare items is a very wise choice.

Popularity: As in all things the popularity of collecting certain items tends to cycle. The reason popularity is important in the value of a collection is simple supply and demand. As more people seek collections, the demand rises relative to supply and values rise.

Condition: Better quality collections rise in value faster than collections of lesser quality. One should always strive to build a collection of Near Mint quality or better.

Theme: A collection build around a theme is always more desirable that a collection of unmatched pieces.

Artistry: Artistry applies to the look of the images on the card, but artistry is not a large factor in the value of cards.

Nostalgia: This is perhaps the least important factor, but a factor nonetheless. Many of the baby boom generation remember collecting cards from their childhood and some collections are built with an eye to the nostalgic pleasure the memories invoke.