What is a baseball card appraisal?
A baseball card appraisal is the process of an unbiased third party reviewing your collection and placing a value on it based on its makeup.
When getting your cards appraised, it’s in your best interest to receive appraisals from multiple sources. And, as mentioned, you’ll want to have the party doing the appraisal to not have any “skin in the game,” as Warren Buffet would say.
If you don’t have time to read the entire page, and are just looking for baseball card appraisals, here is a running list (Let me know if you suggest any to be added to the list:
- Just Collect
- Beckett Certified Appraisal
- PSA Authorized Dealers
- Most Baseball Card Shops
- DIY with eBay
Also, when researching online sports card auctions, it looks like some auction houses, like Heritage, will provide a free auction evaluation for you to get a better idea of what your card might sell for.
Why get your baseball cards appraised?
First, there are many people out there wondering if baseball cards are even worth anything and if card collecting is still a viable hobby. It’s a semi-valid assertion, given the ups and downs of what used to be considered the hobby of all hobbies.
If you’ve also had the same questions, and have a collection yourself, let the card appraisal be the answer. for others, you would typically get your collection appraised proceeding a related event. Meaning, if you were planning on selling your collection, it would be in your best interest to get it valued.
In addition, perhaps you’re needing your collection to be insured, as a part of your home owner’s or renter’s policy, or because you’re mailing it, in which case you’d need it appraised also. Or, you’re planning on gifting your collection to someone else and would like to let them know the approximate value.
Last, you might have received a few baseball cards for free and was gifted the collection from someone else, or through the purchase of a storage locker, etc. and are just curious as to the price of your treasure (but again, probably because you are wanting to turn around and sell it).
Rarely will you be motivated to get your collection appraised unless you’re planning on taking some sort of action with it.
How to get your baseball cards appraised
To get your baseball cards appraised, you need to first prepare for the appraisal either by taking photos, completing inventory, or both. You’ll then need to select the type of appraisal, which could include in-person or virtual services. Last, the appraiser will evaluate the cards.
Here are the details:
1. Prepare for the appraisal
Before you get your cards appraised, you’ll need to do some preparation, which will vary depending on the route you choose (more on that below).
This includes, but is not limited to taking photos of the cards you wish to sell and/or taking inventory and putting together a list of the cards you wish to sell, with their conditions.
2. Think about the type of appraisal you need
When it comes to getting your cards appraised, you have a few different options to consider. Each comes with pros and cons, which we will get into in the next section.
- Online with photos: Submit photos of your cards to an appraisal service. They’ll look them over and then return a value to you.
- Online with a checklist: Similarly, you can simply submit a list of your cards if you don’t have photos and aren’t really comfortable with scanning baseball cards.
- In-person, at a card shop: This is where you’d find a local card shop and then physically bring your cards in for appraisal. You’ll probably want to make an appointment to do so, especially for larger collections.
- In-person, at a card show: Card shows are great for buying and selling baseball cards, but they are also venues that bring together card experts from all over. Some of these experts do in fact offer appraisal services, so you’ll want to keep tabs on upcoming shows and attendees.
- In-person, at your home: That’s right, you can also arrange for an appraiser to come to your home, which is great for those collections that can’t be easily transported.
- Via mail: If you have the stomach, you might be able to ship your cards to an appraiser. I mean, people send valuable cards to grading card companies all the time, so I guess it’s not all that different. Still, though, you’ll want to certainly but in the work and research to ensure this is a safe option.
3. Choose an appraisal service that suits you
As mentioned above, the great thing is you have options when it comes to appraising cards. So, you’ll certainly want to do due diligence while comparing the different services to ensure you choose the best for you and your unique circumstances.
Online with photos
There are online baseball card appraisal services through sites like Just Collect. In this case, getting your appraisal started is as easy as filling out the form and clicking a button.
Now, another online option is to utilize Beckett Certified Appraisal services, but some things to keep in mind.
First, the service is really only geared towards single print run cards, 1/1s essentially. Secondly, it’s $12/per card, and at that cost, I would just take my chances looking for similar 1/1 cards on eBay, or even putting up an auction with a “Best Offer” on the “Buy It Now” to gauge interest. eBay serves as a great option free price guide for baseball cards.
Online with a checklist
If you don’t have photos of your cards or don’t want to spend time putting them through the scanner, etc., you can usually have the appraiser look at a list of cards. Note, you can also do that with Just Collect, as mentioned above.
With this option, though, you’ll want to make sure to include as much information as possible, especially around their condition, and be sure to list whether or not a card is a rare variation or a common, etc.
In-person, at a card shop
Many baseball card shops offer collection appraisals. With this option, you’re putting your cards into the hands of what should be a knowledgeable, trustworthy individual. The odds of them turning around and closing down their business just to run off with your collection should be low, and, they should have a very good idea on what cards are selling for. The problem is, there are fewer and fewer card shops every day.
One other thing to note is, the cards sold in shops are typically more expensive than those found online, given the overhead costs of running a physical brick-and-mortar cards store. So, don’t be put off if you receive a value for your cards, and then see the same cards in the shop’s case being sold for more money.
In-person, at a card show
If you can find a card show to attend, you might be able to find a “pop-up” appraiser who can look at your cards while you wait. Of course, this wouldn’t be the most thorough of options, but can work in some circumstances.
In-person, by home appointment
In some cases, if the stars align, you can arrange for appraisers to meet you at your home. Given your intent of the appraisal, meaning, if you’d like to sell, the chances of finding a part to do an in-home appraisal increses greatly.
But, a word to the wise—you’re painting yourself into a bit of a corner with this option. Meaning, if you arrange for an appraiser to travel to you, they know you’re ready to sell, and, with them in your living room, they can go about quoting a lower price in hopes that you’ll accept, given the sheer convenience.
If you’re looking to get your graded cards appraised, PSA has a list of authorized dealers for you to refer to.
Via Snail Mail
Last, you might be able to ship your cards, the entire collection, to the appraiser. Now, I wouldn’t have the stomach to do so because you never know what could happen, but that is what is insurance is for, I guess (although, a bit of a catch 22 because you won’t know the true value of the collection with appraisal)!
You’ll also want to make sure you’ve adequately cataloged your cards before shipping them away, and then of course checking them upon return.
What are the pros and cons involved with appraisal?
Pros: The overall benefit of getting your collection appraised is to attach some sort of tangible value to it. In addition to the cases above, this comes in handy if you want some sort of baseline value for a collection you know you will be building. Attaching value is also a reason why you should get your cards graded.
Cons: The cons are mostly related around the legitimacy of the actual appraisal value. Cards can quickly increase or decrease in value within a week’s time, especially with collections mostly made up of modern sets. On the other hand, vintage cards will remain more stable, if you will.
Another con is that your appraisal is, well, a con. Meaning, be cautious of anyone wanting to appraise your collection and then asking to immediately buy it after doing so. As you can imagine, any unsuspecting individual with a lack of card value knowledge can easily be taken advantage of during this process.
So, what’s the worth?
Have experience with any of these options or something different entirely? I’d love to talk about it in the comments!