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Monday, December 22, 2008

My links post got derailed by economics

I was putting to gether my links post for this week when I saw this post from Free Andy Laroche comparing the book values of a big pull from Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects and Donruss Threads. The BV of a Chrome auto refractor of Mets minor leaguer Ike Davis was $100 greater than a jersey card of Eddie Mathews. This seems ridiculous at first glance, but the rules of supply and demand makes some sense of this.

There are a ton of Eddie Mathews cards out there and a decent amount of relic cards. Ike has only has a few cards peppered throughout the usual Draft Pick sets so far. So the supply of Mathews cards is a lot higher than of Ike Davis cards.

Now for the demand. Bowman Chrome is a popular, established product. People specifically collect it. There are also prospectors and autograph hounds out there adding to the customer base of the Ike card. Donruss Threads is a brand new product and a lot of its potential customer base may be turned off since it's not licensed.

There are definitely more people collecting Mathews than Davis, but there are also a lot more options for them to purchase. This card is kind of ugly to boot. The design is a little sketchy, there's no Braves logo and the picture of Eddie looks like it was taken at an Old-Timer's banquet. Unless you are specifically collecting Donruss Threads relics or every Eddie Mathews relic ever made there are a lot better options for Mathews collectors who want a relic. For about the same price you can pick up a Topps or Upper Deck licensed card with the braves logo on it that's a little more visually attractive. So: good card, great player, but the smaller number of potential customers and the large size of cards competing for those collectors' dollars makes the price go down.

Ok, so people specifically collecting Ike Davis cards (there is bound to be someone out there) have this card and maybe another draft pick auto card to choose from. Being a colored refractor parallel, it's one of the most attractive examples of his card. Now put on top of the Davis collectors the ones who collect refractors and autos and prospects and just plain shiny cards that look cool and you have a large group of collectors all after the same card. Supply is low, demand is high, price is very high due to the demand and scarcity.


Eddie Mathews is still a Hall of Famer. There are still a lot of Mathews cards and collectors out there. Probably even more and newer and shiner cards to choose from. More supply, probably stable demand, book value stays the same or drops slightly.

Ike Davis whether he pans out or not is no longer a prospect. Prospectors are out of the collector pool, demand goes down.

If Ike Davis becomes an MVP or All Star, then his collector pool goes way up, increasing demand. If he simply makes the majors, he'll have some following but not much. If he doesn't make it, then his collector base shrinks to a group including hard core Mets fans and his mom. Demand drops precipitously.

There have been more and newer cards produced of Ike, more supply. Possibly more certified autographed cards, more supply. Autograph hounds have had time to pester him at Spring Training, minor league games and TTM. More supply.

This is still his first card, so rookie card collectors are still in the game. People who like shiny cards still like the shiny, but there have been five more years of shiny produced. More supply. So basically, unless Ike becomes a superstar we're looking at a huge drop in demand and possibly a large increase in supply. Guess what that does to the book value?

So let's compare the typical auction for this Ike Davis card now and five years from now.

Now: Brand new product, very low supply, shiny happy card, BowChro Autograph. People bidding on it include: Ike Davis fans, Mets fans, Prospectors, BowChro set chasers, Autograph hounds, People mesmerized by the shiny, Ike's mom. Lots of bids, high final value.

Five years from now, Ike's taken over for Delgado and out produced him: 1st year card, very low supply, shiny happy card of an all-star. People bidding on it include: Ike Davis fans, Mets fans, New York fans, fans who saw him in person and liked him from then on, BowChro set chasers, Autograph hounds, Star collectors, People mesmerized by star shiny, Ike's mom, Ike's many girlfriends. Tons of bids, high final value.

Five years from now, Ike's working at a car wash: Old product, very low supply, low numbered auto of a guy who vacuumed your interior: People bidding on it include: Super hard core Mets fans, people mesmerized by old shiny, Ike's mom. Very few bids, low final value.

So basically, it makes sense right now that the book value of Ike is 6 times the Mathews. It's just simple economics. Now, book value is just a guide to what people in the real world will actually pay for something. It doesn't mean that Ike Davis' card is 6 times better than that Eddie Mathews jersey. In five years the roles will likely be reversed anyway. Now would anyone actually pay $120 dollars for an Ike Davis BowChro refractor? Who knows... Check the real time sales and find out. In my experience you're going to see cards sell for well under high book price far more often than not unless demand spikes for that card for some reason or another. In any case, it's better to ignore the price guide and go after what you like at a price you're willing to pay. My advice to Free Andy Laroche is to collect what he likes and if Ike Davis ain't it, then sell high, buy low and strike while the iron is hot.

1 comment:

Laurens said...

As the case, the people get angry when new cards of unproven players [guys who have not made the minor leagues] are worth much more than older players' cards [Hall of Famers].

I don't know if you generally feel the same way, but you explained the demand for new player cards vs. old player cards well without getting into a typical 'why is Ike Davis or any players' card worth so much, when he hasn't played in the Major Leagues' rant.