Friday, August 24, 2012

Explain the Prices for Two Darwins and a Billy

One thing I've learned from tracking the Topps set prices for the past three years is that there is no rhyme or reason to the price of cards.  They can be up one month, down another, with no apparent reason for the change.

Today I've got three cards, two Darwins and a Billy, and the cost for these baffles me.

After I picked up the 2012 Leaf National Convention Billy Williams card, I saw that there was an autographed version too.  It's a sticker auto, but the cards were only numbered to five.  Two of the five were being offered by the same dealer (how does that happen??), so I set the sniper to pick up one or the other.  I don't have any 1/1s in my entire collection; a /5 would be my lowest numbered card.

This is a /5 card of a Hall of Famer.  Granted, its not from one of the big card companies, but still, I figured the price might quickly pass my max.

It didn't...not by a long shot.  I was able to pick up a /5 card with the autograph of a Hall of Fame player who happens to be my favorite player for ten bucks.  Again, thats /5 and HOF for $10.  I was excited with the bargain price, yet puzzled by the bargain price.

Here's card #2...Tier One Darwin Barney White Autograph that's /25.  Its a small print run, but not nearly as small as the Billy Williams card.  And Darwin Barney is a second year guy who's becoming a steady player, but the only way he's getting into Cooperstown is by buying a ticket.  And the price for this?  $15.  Not bad for a /25, but $5 more than Billy's.  Is Darwin Barney's autograph really more valuable than Billy Williams?  Apparently so.

Since June 21 six of the 25 Barney white autographs have been sold on Ebay.  The average price was $18.35.  For a /25 card, that seems low to me.

Card #3 is one I've been tracking for quite a while, the Darwin Barney Heritage no position variation.  The is a SSP card, but its not numbered, so we don't know exactly how many are out there.  Since Heritage was released, a total of 25 have been offered on Ebay, with 24 of them selling (the most recent listing had an opening bid of $99.99 and no bids were received).  The average price for this card was $105.57.  A card with more copies and no autograph is going for five times the price of the /25 autographed Tier One card.  And the reason for that would be????

So let's recap the prices on the three cards...
Hall of Famer /5 autograph....$10
/25 autograph of a second year guy...$15
Unnumbered (but more than 25 are out there) SSP from Heritage...$105

Explain, please.


  1. This is something that seems to happen a lot. When I worked at a LCS people would always want the latest, hottest player and would often not even know anything about the history of the team they allegedly "loved". It is the out of sight out of mind phenomena that happens for most retired players unless they have entered the mainstream mythology.

  2. It's called "hype." The Barney Heritage card was hyped out the wazoo and people who get into that stuff will pay whatever they need to pay.

    I'm willing to bet a lot of those people never even heard of Billy Williams.

  3. I agree with Rod's assertion "Out of sight, out of mind." In order to create a market for an item, you have to make the public aware it exists. Mr. Williams doesn't play anymore and the card issuer is not well known. So, that card has little demand. Topps Heritage is well known. And almost everyone covets the elusive "error card". So it has high demand.

    Personally, I would take one Billy Williams autograph card over a stack of Darwin Barney autograph cards any day. (No offense, Barney)