Being a prospector means I am always on the lookout for insane deals and under the radar auctions that could produce good amounts of profit either on raw resale, or turned into investment pieces through grading. Last month I came across such an opportunity, while searching for under the radar auctions on eBay, I found a set of six Michael Jordan cards from the 1989 Collegiate Collection which were listed as being in new condition, having been ordered and delivered in special hard plastic holders.
Michael Jordan in general is a card that all serious basketball collectors want, he is one of the greatest basketball players ever, so taking a gamble on a Michael Jordan card is always an option for me. Granted, these cards were part of the Collegiate Collection, meaning they were from when Jordan was still at North Carolina, so they are not an NBA rookie card, which obviously would be a great find, however, it’s Jordan – enough said. The auction start price was $9.99 with zero bids and only about an hour remaining, so I quickly set out to research these particular cards and their historical sales price, to see if there was a market for them.
At the time of the auction, these 1989 Michael Jordan cards were selling in raw condition for about $2.00 to $10.00 per card, and in graded condition in the range of $20.00 to $50.00 per card. Seeing the potential for profit, I quickly put in my bid and waited. Remarkably, no one else bid on the auction and I was able to walk away with all six cards for only $9.99 plus $5.99 shipping, putting my total price of acquisition at $15.98, an average of $2.66 per card!
Now, I have to admit that this auction was a gamble, the seller in question was new, with zero feedback – a situation that I largely avoid on eBay simply because the headache of dealing with scammers is not worth my time. My concern grew when after a week since winning the auction the seller still hadn’t provided tracking information, but the package did eventually arrive, so taking the gamble with the new seller paid off.
As with many of my picks, I had so much going on that the cards literally were unboxed, examined, and promptly put in the “project pile”, and then forgotten until just yesterday. I decided to jump on eBay and look at the current listing prices for these cards and was almost floored when I found that some of the cards were now listing at $150 or more – wait, what?!? I’m not sure the if these are just some really hopeful sellers, but I found several examples of the card in graded condition that were in the $80 to $200 range. Now, whether or not these cards sell at such high prices is yet to be seen, however looking at completed sales data over the last couple months, I did find graded examples from SGC and PSA which sold in the $80+ range, going as high as $150 for an SGC Pristine 10, and $150 for a PSA 10 Gem Mint – examples from lesser known or trusted graders like GMA were averaging about $20 to $30 for a Gem Mint 10 condition card.
So, with the potential for some really high returns, I packed up the cards and sent them off for grading yesterday. I recently found a new PSA submission partner, which drops my per card price for grading from $17 to only $9 per card for bulk submission on cards 1972-2016., and only $12 per card on modern cards, that being 2017+. This is my first submission with the new partner and I will be writing an article detailing my experience with them. Based on reviews from other submitters, I have confidence that their service will become my new go to for all grading requirements.
So, lets break down the total per card cost, from the cost of acquiring the cards plus the grading fees, shipping, all in. Here’s the breakdown;
|Item||Total Cost||Price Per Card|
|Winning Auction Bid||$9.99||$1.67|
|Auction Shipping Charges||$5.99||$1.00|
|Bulk PSA Grading Fee||$54.00||$9.00|
|Grading Service Surcharge||$2.00||$0.33|
|Shipping to Grading Service||$4.03||$0.67|
|Return Shipping from Service||$7.50||$1.25|
With a per card cost basis of only $14.39 there is a pretty good margin for profit on this prospect. All of the cards in this lot were in mint condition, but I am not willing to bank on receiving PSA 10’s on all the cards, so if we approach this assuming that all six cards come back as a PSA 9. Looking at historical sales data only at PSA 9 examples, the sales price range is as low as $10 to as high as $149 with a total sales volume of the last ten sales equaling $311.65, providing a per sale average over the last ten sales of $31.17 per card.
Assuming all of my cards come back as PSA 9’s only and I am able to sell all six cards with an average of only $30 per card, that would provide a total sales revenue of $180, providing a $93.69 profit over my total cost basis to acquire and grade the cards. Of course, these numbers are a lot higher in the event cards come back as PSA 10’s – the last ten card sales of these cards in PSA 10 condition equates to $645.90 with an average per card sale price of $64.59 – needless to say, I am hoping for more than a few of these cards to come back as PSA 10’s, which will increase my return immensely if the market remains as it is now.
Another factor I have to consider is that PSA is backlogged, and 45 day turn around is actually more like 90 days at the moment. This means the cards should be arriving back to us here around the beginning of December, which could work in our favor with the holiday shopping season in full swing, these cards might fetch above average sales prices from people buying them as gifts. In any event, I will be writing a follow up article once the cards arrive, and likely do an unboxing video for our new YouTube channel.
*Disclaimer: Investing in trading cards, comic books, memorabilia, and any other item involves substantial risk of loss and is not suitable for everyone. Cardboard Prospector does not provide financial advice, and none of our articles or opinions should be construed as financial or investment advice. We do not guarantee results from your decision making based on our opinions and content. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence prior to making any investment.
I started collecting cards when I was about 8 years old, with my passion being baseball cards. I grew out of collecting in my teens and spent the better part of my 20’s focusing on education and career. Now in my mid-30’s I have dove back in to collecting and now prospecting and investing in cards and comics as well. I like to write about ways to collect and invest and share my experiences in the collecting and investing world of sports cards and comics. I am also an avid cigar enthusiast and you can get cigar reviews and information on my sister site Cigar Informer at https://www.cigarinformer.com