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Collecting Tips from PSA’s Lead Appraiser, Michael Osacky


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Your company, BaseballintheAttic.com, “provides comprehensive, written appraisals that can be used to settle estate planning issues, tax implications, or insurance estimates.” Can you please elaborate on the importance of appraisals?

There are three main reasons why people engage with my company (Insurance, Estate Planning, Donation). Appraisals are more important NOW than ever before. Collections are now 3x-10x what they were prior to Covid. A collection that was $50k prior to Covid might be worth $500k today.  

You need to be protected.  You think you are protected because you have a rider on your insurance policy.  YOU ARE NOT.  When fire, flood, hurricane, break-ins, etc occur, your insurance carrier is NOT on your side.  If your items are NOT appraised by a USPAP appraiser, you will have to pay lots of money on legal bills to get the money you deserve.  I have seen this happen time and time again.   

You tout the 1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson rookie because of his pivotal role in American history and MLB’s annual Jackie Robinson Day. Are there cards and memorabilia, like signed pieces, you recommend?

I love the 1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson.  There is something special about his smile and the red background.  The Dodgers jersey and hat are very pronounced.  Jackie Robinson single signed baseballs are always a winner.  If you can find a signed Jackie baseball card (preferably 1953 or earlier), buy it! 

You’re also bullish on the very rare 1961 Fleer basketball set, which includes the Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson rookies.  How affordable is this set? What kind of room does it have to grow?

The set is affordable on the very, very low end.  However, there just aren’t enough of these cards to go around.

In your experience, how do astute people collect?

You should collect what you enjoy.  This way, if the market takes a downturn, you still own items you love/enjoy. However, you need to do research.  Don’t get caught up in social media and what others are saying.  It’s your money.  Do the research.

What are the things that make cards rare and desirable?

Manufactured Scarcity. Supply/Demand. Print Runs. Broken or damaged printing plates. Social Media hype. Low pop reports. Big markets/small markets. There’s plenty of other things, too. 

What should collectors avoid?

Bad timing.  Too many people buy at the highs and sell at the lows.When Lebron was in the NBA finals last year and won the championship, people were buying his cards.  NO! That is precisely when you sell his cards, because the news was already baked into the price of his cards.

When the MJ rookie in late January went from $250k to $728, that is a Blow-off top.  There were 2 public auctions and 2 private sales over $700K.  You can’t be buying up there.  You know everybody is going to sell their cards at that ungodly inflated price.  A few people were caught at the top and there was a lot of room to fall on the downside.

What has your experience taught you about how the market has moved?  Do you expect the hobby to continue to skyrocket in coming months and years?

2020 was a perfect storm for the market.  We’ll see if anything can top that.  However, the hobby is now seen as an asset class and there is serious capital being deployed in the market.  I am glad the market sold off since February.  It’s healthy.  In order to have upwards price appreciation you need to have sell-offs.  

A market correction is good because it serves as a breather or moment of clarity.  It also may weed out the weak, like people who bought on the first of the month and want to make 20% by the end of the month.

Last question, please. Tell us about your new appraisal show for Collectable called “What’s It Worth?” that is posted on Wednesday on YouTube? What sort of pieces have you examined? 

Two weeks ago I appraised the Holy Grail of card collecting: a PSA authentic T206 Honus Wagner.

There are graded cards I have gawked over like a 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady PSA 10, a 1957 Topps Bill Russell, and a signed 1986 Fleer MJ rookie (auto authenticated by UDA).

Last week I appraised a pair of Kevin Durant’s game used and signed shoes.

I am having lots of fun with Alan Goldsher on the Collectable show.  It comes out each week on Wednesday.  I appraise 2-3 items each week.