Saturday, January 12, 2019

High Grade Prewar Cards vs. Beaters

Which do you like better?  High grade or beaters?

High grade prewar cards are selling for crazy prices these days and investors are all over them.  There are record prices being realized all the time.  But shouldn't a card that is 100 years old show some wear?  Do they look better crisp and clean or with a story derived from creases and dinged corners?

Here is an example of a PSA 10 E98 Honus Wagner from the famous Black Swamp Find.  The card is sharp and bright but I feel like it's missing something.

It just doesn't look like it's 109 years old.  And that's what bothers me about high grade prewar cards.  Am I amazed that this card exists in this condition?  Yes.  I can't deny that.  It looks like a reprint though, like it was printed yesterday. 

Also, what about the real possibility of high grade cards being altered (trimmed)?  I'm not saying the Black Swamp cards are trimmed, but there are many examples of high grade cards that look trimmed to me. 

Take a look at this T213-3 Christy Mathewson PSA 8.  Look at how it is swimming in that holder.  It looks too small to not have been trimmed down. 

Someone will likely tell me that the Type 3 Coupons are known to be smaller like this.  Kind of like the American Beauty T206s are known to be slimmer.  It still looks trimmed though.

There is one high grade card that I do like more than the beater examples I've seen of it.  The PSA 7 T206 Eddie Plank is one really nice looking card and I don't even care that it doesn't show it's age.  I am drawn to this card in general for some reason, but this one is particularly sweet.

This one was auctioned off as part of Heritage Auctions' high grade T206 collection last year.  The Plank sold for $690,000. 

And how can we discuss high grade prewar cards without mentioning the PSA 8 Honus Wagner.  The holy grail of baseball cards.  And it is known to be trimmed.  Doesn't seem to matter to buyers though.  It continues to sell for record prices every time it's available. 

Well, the other side of this discussion is the world of beaters.  Cards that show their age through creases, tears, pinholes, missing corners, missing paper, etc. 

I have always liked these beaters.  I think they tell a story about their journey over the last 100 years.  They've been loved by children and adults alike, tossed around in collections in boxes, wrapped in rubber bands and banged around as bricks of cards rounding the corners.

They are what they are.  Beaters.  They sell for hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of dollars less than their high grade counterparts.  I would much rather have an entire T206 set of 520 cards than that single PSA 7 Plank.  But I don't have the funds to drop $690K on one card so I can't relate to the guy who bought it. 

I know it's because of my budget that I collect beaters, but I actually do like them more too.  There are some that are so bad that I wouldn't want them, but not many. 

Here are a few of my cards...


You see.  These cards would cost hundreds or thousands of dollars more in high grade but I am able to own them at reasonable prices because they are beat up. 
So what do you like?  High grade or beaters.  What do you collect?  Tell me in the comments.
Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

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