HOW TO AUCTION BASEBALL CARDS

There are a few main ways to auction off baseball cards including live auctions, online auctions, and group/consignment auctions. When deciding which option is best, you’ll want to consider factors like the number of cards you have, their estimated value, ease of the auction process, desired timing, and target buyers.

For large collections with very valuable cards that could sell for thousands of dollars or more individually, a live auction run by a reputable auction house is usually the best route. Reputable auction houses that specialize in sports memorabilia include Heritage Auctions, Lelands, Grey Flannel Auctions, and Goldin Auctions. You’ll work directly with an auction specialist to determine estimated values, set minimum bid prices if desired, advertise the auction to their existing buyer base, handle card consignment and shipping logistics, oversee the live bidding event, and handle payments. Live auctions allow for maximum publicity, thrill of the bidding process which can increase prices achieved, and opportunity to connect cards to enthusiastic collectors. Auction houses typically take a percentage (around 20%) of the final sale price as their commission fee. Pricing usually works best for very high end vintage and rare cards that can attract serious collectors willing to spend big money.

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Another good option for larger collections is online auctions run through sites like eBay, Heritage Sports, or Lelands. With online auctions, cards are listed individually or in small lots with starting bid prices and buyers bid during a fixed multi-day bidding period. Online auctions allow geographic flexibility as buyers can participate from anywhere without needing to travel to a live event. They also provide extensive reach as auction listings are advertised site-wide on large platforms like eBay which host millions of active buyers. Online auctions generally achieve lower prices than live auctions as the experience is less exciting without in-person bidding wars. They also require more effort to photograph, describe, package and ship each individual item. Commission fees for online auctions are somewhat lower than live options, usually 10-12% plus optional listing and payment processing charges.

For smaller collections in the $100s to low $1000s total estimated range, group/consignment auctions can be a great fit. With these, you send your entire collection to an auction house to sell all at once as a single large lot. This simplifies the process by not requiring individual consignment and shipment of each card. Consignment auctions are often bundled into recurring theme auctions like a monthly “Baseball Card Auction”. Estimated values must be provided upfront and minimum sale prices agreed on similar to live auctions. Group auctions eliminate per card transaction fees but usually attract less invested buyers since cards aren’t hand selected. As such, prices achieved are often lower than for prime individual cards offered separately. They are best for casual collectors wanting a simple sell.

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Auctions are not the only resale option either – for smaller collections you can opt to sell individually on a platform like eBay or through third party grading/selling services like PWCC or BlowoutCards who will handle submissions, grading, listings and transactions for a sizable fee percentage. Facebook buy/sell groups can also be a good market, as can shows/expositions catering to collectors in your local area. Ultimately the choice depends on your priority – max price vs effort required and target buyer pool. No matter which route, extensive research on current market values is key to achieve the best possible return.

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When prepping cards for auction, the golden rules are to photograph cards clearly from the front and back against a clean backdrop, describe accurately including any flaws/issues, grade cards through professional third parties if high end, and package securely for shipment. Providing a complete history upfront builds buyer confidence. You’ll also want to check with your selected option on any special consignment/shipping guidelines. Close communication with the auction house is important throughout the entire process. Following auction best practices will help your cards attract the most competitive bidding from interested collectors.

For large valuable collections aim for live or major online auctions, smaller quantities suit consignment group auctions best, and individual resale is the way to liquidate modest lots. With the proper research and auction strategy, you can successfully sell your baseball cards and find enthusiastic new homes for them with collectors.

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