Fans Speak / A. C. Haeffner
and Collectibles - Autogrpahed baseballs, baseball cards, memorabilia,
appraisals, sales and auctions.
Keep Those Questions Coming
By A.C. Haeffner
Since joining the baseballguru.com family of writers, I have received e-mails from various readers seeking information about sports memorabilia collections or commenting on some aspect of this website.
I think it instructive to share the best of those correspondences as well as my responses since they might answer questions floating around in the brains of a good many collectors. I am withholding names and addresses for consistencys sake, since some folks send their names and some dont, and also because some of the questions have been asked in similar fashion by more than one reader.
Im sure there are many more subjects yet to be touched upon by readers. If you have any questions pertaining to memorabilia, dont hesitate to ask. Ill give the best answers I can.
Question: In 1961, I won a baseball in a raffle from the New York Yankees. It has all the greats on it, but the Mickey Mantle signature looks nothing like any known to man. The others look authentic, but Ive read that at times other people would sign these balls and that some signatures were even stamped on. Could you suggest resources I might access to find exactly what I have here and what its value might be?
Answer: I would normally say that you should find an autograph expert (quite a few advertise in publications such as "Autograph Collector," a monthly magazine), but I've discovered lately that even experts can be wrong.
I came into possession of a Jackie Robinson autograph that I knew to be authentic because the person I purchased it from was not only of impeccable character, but told me in great detail how, when and where he had obtained it directly from Robinson. Without going into further detail, I can say that I was 100 percent certain of the signature.
I sold it to another gentleman, who then had an expert examine it. The expert said it was not authentic. I told the person who had bought it from me that his expert was wrong, but that I would gladly refund the money and sell the signature to another buyer who would not be misled by some charlatan parading as an expert.
Bottom line was this: I hooked up the buyer and the original owner, and the buyer ultimately became convinced of the signature's legitimacy. His expert had been very wrong.
So having said that, I would still get in touch with an expert if I were you. He or she could probably tell you quickly (through a photo, if necessary) if the Mantle signature was stamped, or might even know if it was ghost-signed. As for the other signatures, if they're clearly not stamped it's likely (or at least in your favor, though you might never know for sure) that most (and maybe all) are legitimate. Varied styles would indicate different signers, and it's unlikely there would be more than one or two ghost-signers in one clubhouse.
I would also check a local Barnes and Noble bookstore for autograph-related magazines and books. I recently spotted an excellent book at our local Barnes and Noble that provided examples of many legitimate and fake signatures. Ask at the front desk; they might help you find it.
If there are any sports memorabilia shows in your area, perhaps an autograph dealer will be present to give you an on-the-spot appraisal. But it would likely have to be a sizable show in order to warrant the presence of someone in that field.
Another possibility: go on-line to a search engine and type in "autographs." A bunch of websites for related businesses should appear there. You could conceivably send scanned photos of your ball to whomever you connect with, and get an appraisal that way.
Visitor Comment: Tonight I found your Hall of Fame photos on
the Baseball Guru page and just wanted to let you know that I absolutely
love them! I don't think I've
Question: I have a 1971 Topps Bob Garibaldi, with a blank back. Could you please give me information on this card, such as the rareness, value, etc. Any information would be appreciated.
Answer: Blank backs are generally of little extra value unless the card is that of a superstar. Garibaldi lists at $7 in NM condition, and I don't think the error would add more than $1 or $2 to that. Sorry.
Question: I saw your site and am hoping you might provide some assistance. My second child is just starting college, and it is finally time to sell my card collection to support higher education. I am trying to find the best source or contact to help me with the process.
I began collecting in the mid-50's and have kept all my cards, as well as being a willing recipient of the cards my friends no longer wanted! I have complete sets from 1958 through 1962 and lots of additional cards from the mid-50s through the mid-60s. I have multiple cards of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Ted Williams and all the other key players of that time (even 10 Carl Yastrzemski rookie cards). My guess is they are in very good condition (I don't know how to rate them).
What I am looking for is the best possible way to sell these cards. I would really appreciate any information you may have on who to contact. I have two large crates of cards I am hoping can be used to help with education costs. I also have an extensive collection of football cards from the same time period.
Any leads or suggestions would be appreciated.
Answer: It sounds like you have an excellent collection there. How best to sell it is a good question.
I spent several years on the show circuit, setting up tables at far-flung locales where I bought and sold cards. Pretty exciting. Back then, you could probably have walked into a sizable show and sold your collection to one of the dealers for a pretty fair price.
But that whole scene has changed with the advent of card grading. Now, a lot of collectors (and a lot of dealers) won't buy cards for anything remotely approaching book value unless the cards are graded by a reputable and popular grading service. There are several services quite a few now, actually but only two or three to which people pay much attention.
The problem with the grading services is cost. I have some cards I wouldn't mind getting graded, but the cheapest cost I can find (at a firm that I trust) is $6 per card and I would have to have them grade 100 cards in order to get that "low" rate. And it takes a while. The card owner has to send the cards by mail to the grading service, which takes weeks as a rule to complete its task and send the cards back "slabbed" secured in a sealed plastic container and graded.
Condition is very important, and so I can't really comment on what you've got unless I actually saw the cards or if they were graded by a grading service. But the simple fact is that the better the condition, the more money you will realize from them. (And since your cards are older ones, they might carry a premium if they are in nice shape and graded accordingly.)
I can make several suggestions, none of them ideal:
1. You can attend a show and try to sell there. But again, you're not likely to get nearly as much as you once might have before grading services emerged.
2. You can try eBay. But I've found limited success there with ungraded material. I'm about convinced that I might have to bite the bullet and get a bunch of cards graded before I sell them that way.
3. You can find someone who will sell them for you on eBay or another auction site (although eBay has easily the largest clientele). There are some services around that do that sell your material for a percentage.
4. You can find a memorabilia store preferably one with a nice inventory to start with and high traffic. But again, the percentage of book value that you get from a store might be fairly low.
5. You can get the cards graded and then sell them on eBay or have someone sell them for you on eBay. Maybe one of the eBay dealers provides grading as a part of the percentage he takes from each sale.
I attended an on-site auction a few years ago where a fellow was selling his collection it dated back to 1954, I think in order to pay for a house and other expenses. He didn't get anywhere near what he hoped. And a little while after that, I tried to move some material of my own through an auction house, and was bitterly disappointed. So I would recommend against on-site auctions as an option.
So I guess grading might be the best way to go especially if your cards are in pretty nice condition. And then you can sell them on an Internet site such as eBay.
Response to above answer: You mentioned the grading services. Is there a place where I can get a list of them? I agree with you: That is probably the best place to start.
Answer: The two best grading services (in my estimation) are Beckett and PSA, which you can find on the Internet at http://beckett.com/grading and http://www.psacard.com. Both sites give plenty of information. What they don't convey is the growing evidence that they are the only two services from which you get a striking return for your investment. There are other services that have popped up and are likely cheaper, but the cards graded by such newcomers fail to realize in subsequent sales the kind of prices that Beckett and PSA cards do. The margin of difference is often quite large.
So ... start there. If you have any questions on what to send them, on how to deal with eBay (which I've been doing for more than three years), on anything give a holler.
Reader Comment: I could not help but read your "confession" regarding putting to rest your Warren Spahn 300 glove (Note: See article titled Old Spahnie). I too have one that I got when I lived in Milwaukee during the 50's and early 60's. My dad used to take me to many of the Milwaukee Braves games during that time period. I was a big fan of Spahnie, so naturally when I was 11 my dad bought me my Warren Spahn 300.
I have kept it in great shape, supple with a wonderful patina. I now have a 7-year-old son whose team I am coaching. Just today I was out there with my "Spahnie" throwing the ball around with my son and his friends. Currently I live in the San Francisco bay area, so we get to go to the Giants games. So the generations pass and memories are made. Someday I imagine my son will be with his son telling similar stories.
So thanks for the nostalgic article you wrote. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Question: What would a Mickey Mantle rookie card
be worth? It is in excellent
Answer: A Mantle rookie in excellent condition (on a scale
1951 Bowman (his actual rookie): $3,750.
1952 Topps (more popular): $8,000.
As for what it is actually worth, that depends entirely on how much it
Question: How do I determine the value of my 1950s-1980s card collection?
Answer: There are a number of ways to get an assessment of your cards book value, but you'd really have to contact card dealers who could examine them for condition in order to find out how much you might actually sell them for. And dealers being dealers, you'd probably get different price quotes at each stop.
I know that in my days of doing memorabilia shows (I only do them once in a while now), buying cards was easy because the card owners would bring their collections in and I could provide an offer on the spot. But times have changed. There are fewer shows, replaced by a lot of auctions and sales across the Internet. This makes selling trickier, because the buyer can't actually hold and examine the cards he is thinking about purchasing.
That's why a card-grading system has sprung up in the baseball-card world, with grading experts applying a condition grade to a card and sealing the card in a plastic holder with that grade boldly on display. Some collectors won't buy a card now unless it has been professionally graded, which is a fairly expensive proposition.
Beyond that, I would suggest visiting a magazine shop and obtaining a baseball card price guide. Or you can get a larger price book with listed values at a decent bookstore. Either the magazine or the book will give you an idea as to the book value of your collection, but keep in mind that rarely does the selling price of a card approach that book value unless the card is professionally graded.
Both the magazine or the book should carry advertisements from dealers looking to buy collections, and the magazine should (if it's any good) have a list of upcoming shows, by region.
Remember, though, that a collector such as yourself can only hope to get a percentage of the potential retail value from a dealer. That's one reason I went into dealing. I couldn't get the money I wanted from dealers, and so became one myself. It was preferable to do shows and get my price that way.
Question: What is the value of a 1948 New York Yankees World Series baseball autographed by the whole New York team, even though they did not win the Series that year?
Answer: The value depends on several factors: condition of the ball, condition of the signatures, kind of ball (official or not), number of signatures, who exactly signed, and whether or not the signatures are validated by a reputable grading service. Many people are hesitant to spend much money on autographed items since there have been many, many instances of forgery. There is also the problem of some signatures actually being placed on a ball by clubhouse attendants for key players who simply couldn't be bothered. Some teams also distributed balls with facsimile signatures (machine-created) instead of real ones.
If your ball is in nice (unsoiled) condition, if its an official league ball, if it isnt varnished, and if the signatures were affixed by the players and are clear, then the ball might very well go for around $800 in today's market. If it is graded and validated by a grading service such as PSA, then chances are it will go for a good deal more, assuming the grade is relatively high.
Question: I have a cardboard display (roughly 10 by 14.5 inches) that resembles the 1888 Old Judge (N173) Mike Kelly, C Boston cabinet card, with his bat at a 45-degree angle. Would you be able to tell me what this is?
Answer: I can't be sure without seeing it, but it sounds like your King Kelly item is one of a limited issue (1,200) of lithographs. If so, it might be numbered. These were originally offered as a set of 4 players -- King Kelly, Jim O'Rourke, Ed Delahanty, and Cap Anson. I don't know the year in which that occurred, but I imagine it wasn't too awfully long ago. I've heard that the original asking price for the set was in the $300 range, but I will also tell you that one recent eBay offering of the King Kelly litho did not draw a bid, even though the opening amount would have been only $9.99.
Question: Im trying to find out what baseball gear would have cost in 1915. Can you offer any suggestions where I might look?
Answer: There are two sources I would recommend to find out baseball gear costs from 1915.
The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown has a great resource library. They might have something along those lines. You can write to the library at:
National Baseball Hall of Fame Library
25 Main Street
P.O. Box 590
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Or you can call them at:
(607) 547-0330 or (607) 547-0335
Or you can Fax them at:
Or you can pass along your question by e-mail on their website: www.baseballhalloffame.org
However, you can expect a long wait. They state that any responses could be 8 to 10 weeks in coming.
Even better, I think, would be the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. They have an Archives Center within the museum that recently obtained a collection of Stall and Dean Company records dating back to the end of the 1800s. Stall and Dean produced sports equipment and issued seasonal catalogs promoting their wares. Among them was at least one catalog (and maybe more) pertaining to the year in question.
You can write to:
National Museum of American History
12th, 14th and Constitution Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20560-0601
Or you can call them at:
Or Fax them at:
Or e-mail them at:
They're open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and on Wednesday from noon-5 p.m. Reference to this catalog collection can be found on a website: www.americanhistory.si.edu/archives/d9669.htm
Question: I am looking for any information on old baseball gloves. I have several and cant find anything on them.
Answer: Your question is a little vague. Are these personally used gloves that you purchased in a sporting goods store? Or are they professional, game-used gloves? If game-used, are they autographed by the players who used them? What kind of condition are they in? If they were bought at a sporting goods store, roughly how old are they and what models? And again, what condition? All this information might help me track down a reference source for you.
Question: I have a copy of the official schedule(s) for the 1905 American and National leagues. Each contains group and individual pictures, stats, and team schedules. These booklets are approx.4x5 in size. I plan to give them to my grandsons and would like to know if they have any value. My father kept these for over a half-century. There are 20 pages in each booklet. Thanks
Answer: I've been trying to research these schedules without much luck, largely because schedules generally don't create as much interest as other baseball collectibles. There is no price guide for them, and indeed only passing reference to them in publications that deal with all sorts of the sports' collectible items. I did find that team schedules from that era, if in nice shape, go for around $75. I would guess that league schedules would bring a little bit more -- again depending on condition. As with any older memorabilia, condition is the key.
Question: My husband owns an autographed Dizzy Dean baseball. Where can I find out the value of this ball?
Answer: According to the latest autograph guide at my disposal, a Dizzy Dean-signed ball has a book value of $800. That would assume the ball is in decent condition and that the Dean signature is the only one on the ball and in legible condition (not smudged). If the ball was at some point varnished to try and increase the signature's longevity, that would decrease the value of it, as well.
Question: I just found in some stuff of my father's (he passed away last year), a set of Score baseball cards from 1991. It has 900 player cards and 72 "magic motion trivia cards" and 7 Cooperstown cards. My problem is the box has been opened, but none of the cards have been removed ever. The set is still "perfect." Should I go through these one by one or should I keep the set pristine? I know little about baseball cards, I would not know what this is worth (not much I assume), but would hate to mess them up. I will probably keep them for my kids, but would be interested to know if they might be worth anything at all, and if they are worth saving.
Answer: My price guides show that the 1991 Score baseball set lists at $10. It was mass- produced, and is not likely to rise much in value. The magic motion trivia cards have never carried any value the guides ignore them. The Cooperstown cards are the best of the lot: the set of 7 cards lists at $7.
Bottom line is this: Enjoy the cards. Handle them. Look at them. At those prices, it can't hurt.
Question: I have a 1939 Ted Williams rookie card
and I cant find anyone to tell
Answer: The 1939 Play Ball Ted Williams card (#92) lists in near-mint condition at $2,300. It goes down to $800 in Excellent condition, and to $450 in VG (Very Good) condition. If the condition is below that, then the price is lower.
The trouble with conditions is that any ungraded card can be seen differently by different eyes. The only way to get a generally acceptable grade affixed to your card is to get it professionally assessed by one of the current flock of grading services. The best services (those whose grades carry some weight when it comes to selling your cards) are PSA and Beckett.
Question: I love BaseballGuru.com. It has everything! I've been looking for a 1970's Authentic Atlanta Braves Baseball Hat (red, white and blue, with a little a on the front), and I can't seem to find it. I can find jerseys and tee shirts, but no hat. If you can help me, please email me.
Answer: Your question on the cap is a toughie. My first thought is the Hall of Fame gift shop as a possible source. They don't have much online, but I recall standing in the shop in Cooperstown some 10 years ago, on an evening in which the annual Hall of Fame party for members and guests was being held. I was there as a guest on a special credential.
There were only two customers in the shop at the time me and TV commentator Peter Gammons. He was standing looking at a display of team caps. I remember they had a mix of styles for the different teams. I sidled up next to him and asked: "You have a favorite team?" He replied: "No. Just admiring the display." Then he edged away, clearly not in the mood for chitchat.
I can't swear the Braves cap you seek was there, but it might well have been. I would suggest you either e-mail the gift shop or call it. The Hall of Fame website urges a call as an alternative when what you seek online does not readily turn up.
Question: I have a baseball signed by Charles Root of the St. Louis Browns dated 1923. The ball has the American League red/blue stitching and official stamp of the A.L. Who would I talk to about appraising/selling such an item? Charles Root only played his rookie year with the Browns in 23 and later became the pitcher that Babe Ruth called his shot off of.
Answer: Wow. Nice item. From what I can tell, Charlie Root is not a generally high-demand signature, despite his superb won-lost record (201-160), but it seems as though an item from that era would carry some decent value, depending on condition.
Since Root was primarily a Chicago guy, it occurs to me that you might want to contact a business in that city that deals in sports memorabilia. I plugged in "Chicago Sports Memorabilia" on my computer search engine and came up with www.chicagocollectibles.net/sports-athletics.html. That site lists web addresses of businesses in Chicago and its suburbs that cater to sports memorabilia. I'm thinking someone at one of those sites could give you either an answer or a good lead.
Question: I have some sports item's and was wondering
where I can have them appraised. Items are from approximately 1975 and I
I would like to know if these articles are worth paying an appraisal fee? Theydo have some damage (tape marks, folds and small tears).
Answer: It's unlikely they have much intrinsic market value.
Complete newspapers from that era carry very low premiums, so I doubt taped
portions of them
Question: I was wondering if you could tell me
approximately how much a baseball signed by the 1958 Yankees would be
worth. It is in ok condition -- the names are all legible, but the
ball looks its age. Any idea of an approximate range? I don't
want to sell it just curious what it's
Answer: The matter of 1950s-era Yankee balls yields no easy answer. It's pretty much whatever the market will bear at a particular show. I've seen a couple of 1958s sell for $300, and I've seen one go for $1,100. Condition no doubt was a factor in the discrepancy. I've also seen them advertised in magazines and on eBay for anywhere from $400 to $2,000, although the high-end eBay ads didn't draw any responses. Best guess: the $400-$600 range, assuming Mantle is on there.
Question: I have a complete set of 1986 Fleer Sluggers & Pitchers cards 22 of the best Sluggers and 22 of the best Pitchers with six logo stickers. I also have a 1992 Donruss Coca Cola Nolan Ryan career series. I would like to sell these. Can you give me a price on these, please?
Answer: The Fleer Sluggers & Pitchers sets were produced en masse, so they don't carry much value -- about $6 in mint condition. The Nolan Ryan career series books at $16
Question: In cleaning at my parents house, I found a book titled Babe Ruth's Baseball Advice. It has a copyright date of 1936. It is a 32-page book, paperback, somewhat orange in color. Each double page has an article with advice about a position or a strategy and a full-page picture of Babe Ruth "teaching" young players. The book is in excellant condition. It probably has been in that cabinet lying flat under other books for the last 30 years. My question of course is "What's it worth?"
Answer: A copy of this book that perhaps graded higher -- Ex-Mint to Near-Mint -- recently sold on eBay for $123. So yours shouldn't be far from that level.
Question: My family just discovered a picture of my grandfather, his brother, and Honus Wagner on a hunting outing (with guns, and in their outfits).
The picture is approx 3x5 with Wagner in a hat, his face visible. Is this valuable commercially?
Answer: Yes. There is no price guide for such things, however. It all hinges on finding someone who really wants and prizes it. One way to try and market such a thing a successful ploy for some, and completely unsuccessful for others is to enlarge the photo in limited quantity and sell each as a numbered, limited edition. The limited nature sometimes attracts some buyers although I must say that in this day and age, if a photo doesn't have an autograph on it, then most buyers aren't interested.
If you took it to a dealer, chances are iffy that you'd get a good price. If the dealer had a buyer in mind, then he might pay reasonably. But if not, he'd probably offer a few bucks and then with very little into it put a high price on it and stick it on his wall or in his display case and virtually forget about it. If it sold, fine. If not, he's not out much.
You could try eBay, of course, and put a minimum on it that pleases you. That way you're protected. But I've not had too much luck with old photos on eBay even ones of historic proportion. Nonetheless, I think that's the first route I'd follow.
Question: I have a couple of Babe Ruth items and was trying to get some information on them as to value. The first item is the sheet music of the song "Along Came Ruth" by Irving Berlin. On the front is a big picture of Ruths face with his Yankees hat on. It's 6 pages long.
The other item is a photo of Babe Ruth squatting next to a little girl. On the bottom of the page is written "Babe Ruth" under his picture and "Babe Allemandi" under the little girls picture. Ruth is in his Yankees uniform. The photo looks original and not a reprint or a copy. I took it to a photo place and they said it was original. I have looked all over the internet and can't find either item.
Answer: This is a tough one. I've searched, as you did, the Internet, and have gone through various publications, but I've come up dry. Measuring the sheet music against other Ruth sheet music of that era, I'd guess it must be in the $100-or-slightly-higher range (taking into account condition), but there are no true guides for such a thing. It's even tougher gauging the photo. I imagine it would be worth more, for instance, to any members of the family connected to the little girl with Ruth, if they could somehow be located. By itself, it probably doesn't have great value, unless there's an interesting story behind it.
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