After the near death of cards that happened due to the late 80’s and early 90’s, many of us figured card companies learned their lesson from running the presses full force and mass producing cards to no end. Well, it’s happening again. This time it isn’t so much as base cards as it is autograph cards. Sharpies have switched hands more than Octavio Dotel has switched teams. Guys who were just okay in the pros are collecting a check to fill auto quotas. Autos are the new craze in the sports card hobby. Has been for a while, but things have gotten extreme over the past several years. There is a high demand for them so the companies obliged. So now it’s autograph cards flooding the market. Oh boy.
It’s not going to happen overnight, but this could be the final blow towards the death of the card industry. The majority of us collectors love the autos and the card companies know that too. So not only are their printers and presses going full force, but cards are now being signed by any and virtually every athlete. And I mean every athlete. Some bowlers now even have autographed cards. If there’s a market for it, you better believe the companies are going to do it. They don’t care about flooding the market. They’re making their money regardless. What they’re actually doing though, is they’re taking the prestige and value out of their product. Collectors will lose interest like in the 90’s and profits will plummet. The difference this time is that they may not be able to recover.
It wont just be the card companies at fault, but some collectors will be to blame. With it so easy to sell cards online these days, many sellers are trying to be entrepreneurs. It’s not the person who sells a card here and there trying to recoup some cash to spend on adding to their collection, but the ones who just buys a box hoping to double their money. That’s part of what happened during the 80’s and 90’s too. People would buy boxes or cases of cards in hopes of making double their money and what actually happened was they ended up sitting in a pile of cards that are now worthless because of mass production. After a while they grew discouraged and lost interest. When card companies lose those sales, it really hurts them.
Even collectors that don’t sell take pride in the value of their collection. When there is little or no value left, they tend to lose interest. And that’s where it’s going unfortunately. You have auto cards of guys who became legends who’s card values are lower than one year phenoms. To a true collector, it’s disheartening. And when a lot of money is spent on chasing the next big thing and they don’t pan out long term, more collectors lose interest. When enough collectors lose interest, the hobby as a whole will take a hit. Just like in the early 90’s. It’s just this time, I don’t think the card companies would survive the downfall it’s destined for.