Collecting vintage baseball cards is an enjoyable hobby for all ages. As in all collecting areas, there are reprints, fakes and scammers. Beginners often misidentify and misvalue cards they own or are about to buy.
The following is a brief but important list of tips and points. The beginner should read these before jumping into the hobby with open pocketbook.
** 1) Start by knowing that there are reprints, counterfeits, fakes and scams out there. If you start by knowing you should be doing your homework, having healthy skepticism of sellers claims and getting second opinions, you will be infinitely better off than the beginner who assumes everythings authentic and all sellers are honest.
** 2) Buy and use a copy either of the following two books:
Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, edited by Bob Lemke (Krause Publications)
The Beckett Almanac of Baseball Cards and Collectibles
Available at amazon.com, Barnes and Noble (bn.com) and many brick and mortar book stores. While the card prices should be taken with a grain of salt, each books lists and describes thousands of cards issued from the 1800 to today. An invaluable guide used by both beginning and expert collectors.
** 4) Learn all you can about the hobby. Get the above guides, read books and articles, visit web pages, follow auctions, ask lots and lots of questions of collectors and dealers, visit shows, enjoy collecting and looking at cards. The mere act of collecting and enjoying looking at a large number of cards gives the collector an eye to what is authentic and what looks off.
** 5) Realize that novices in any area of collecting are more likely to overestimate, rather than underestimate, the value of items they own or are about to buy
** 6) Get second opinions and seek advice.
I can be contacted through Cycleback.com main page.
Two public message boards all about baseball cards are at:
Network54 Vintage Baseball Card Board : specializes in Pre-War Cards
PSA Message Boards : covers vintage to modern cards
** 7) Find out if a card grader is reputable before you purchase the graded card. Dont assume that all card graders are equal, because they arent.
** 8) Start by buying inexpensive items. Put the 1933 Goudey Babe Ruths, 1952 Mickey Mantles and high grade T206s off until some other day.
Realize that, without exception, all beginners make mistakes. From paying too much to misjudging rarity to buying fakes. A beginner spending $10 on a $2 card or $5 on a reprint can be a healthy learning experience. Spending $1,000 on a $10 card or $5,000 on a fake is a disaster.
** 9) Gather a list of good sellers. A good seller is someone who is knowledgeable and trustworthy. A good seller fixes a legitimate problem when it arises.
Ask other collectors who they like. Discover good sellers on your own, by buying a few inexpensive items from an eBay seller and see how good are the transactions.
Its best to buy real expensive items from good sellers, including those you have dealt with and those who otherwise have strong reputations.
** 10) Avoid private eBay auctions. These are auctions where the bidders' identities and sometimes the sellers feedback is hidden. Private auctions are often used by shill bidders and sellers offering problematic items
** 11) Make sure the seller has a solid authenticity guarantee and return policy. Legitimate sellers stand behind their products and will allow you to return it if there is a legitimate problem. Skip auctions where the seller refuses to guarantee the authenticity and doesnt allow for returns.