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The Trash-To-Cash Realtor Collection

  • October 09, 2014
  • Leighton Sheldon

vintage football rookie cardsCollections come in all shapes and sizes. How they are stored and how they arrive is just as varied. They’ve come to us in cigar boxes, collector pages, screw-down holders and even in pretzel tins. Recently, we had a local Realtor bring us a collection that he found in the basement of a home he was helping the homeowner clean out. The collection consisted of about 2000 cards and arrived haphazardly tossed into a kitchen sized trash bag. While not the ideal means of storage or transportation, I’ve seen worse. The collection appeared to have been amassed in the mid to late 1950’s as it featured non-sports and sports cards with a heavy emphasis on 1957-1958 Topps baseball, football and basketball. Unfortunately, the collection was not stored well and some cards were in very bad shape and the group presented in a manner that may have caused some to pass on even looking through the collection.


Collections tend to have some consistency to them. Whether it be condition, completeness or inclusion or absence of star players. This collection was an anomaly from the initial glance at the cards at the top of the bag. It ranged from a new grade we’ve coined, “FILTHY,” which is less than POOR, to EX/MT. The amount of dirt and filth on many of the cards ranged from loose, dusty dirt and disintegrated rubber bands to mouse chewed cards. However, amongst the damaged and dirty cards appeared to be some nicer, clean, mid-grade commons and minor stars, so, putting aside the trepidation of the dirt, I figured it was worth the plunge into the trash bag.



vintage sandy koufax roberto clemente


Thumbing through the collection proved a challenge as it needed to be organized, but to my amazement, there were some incredible finds. Sure, it was frustrating finding a Roberto Clemente that had been gnawed upon by some hungry rodent, but there were some additional surprises that made this collection akin to opening packs. The Realtor figured there might be some value to the collection, and was hoping it was worth the trip to our office for an evaluation. Most collections do have value, and the value differs dependent upon content, condition and inclusion of star and rookie cards. After going through the collection and separating out the “value” cards, there was a nice stack which included, get this . . . 4 Johnny Unitas rookie cards from 1957, 3 Jimmy Brown rookie cards from 1958, a stack of about 50 1957 Topps Basketball cards with some HOFers, a few off grade Mickey Mantle cards and a nice selection of other stars and unmarked checklists from the era.



jim brown & johnny unitas rookies


After evaluating the cards and establishing a retail value, I asked the Realtor what price he would be happy with, assuring him that I had already established a total and that if his price was less, I wouldn’t change the offer. The Realtor gave me a price that he thought would be fair and when I presented our offer to him he was surprised as it was much more than he had anticipated. We work hard to make every transaction a win-win for both the seller and Just Collect, Inc. and this transaction was no exception.
Not all collections will have the star power that this collection contained, but there may be more value in them than some people may anticipate. So, before assuming that a collection of off-grade or mishandled cards is worthless and tossing it into the trash, it would be prudent to have the collection examined by a professional. The Realtor made the decision to visit with a professional and was astounded by the results…

Just Collect, Inc. is always buying vintage sports and non-sports cards from 1879-1979.

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