I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We as a group of collectors have a habit of breaking everything down into it’s essentials of hits and base cards. In a typical box we might see one autograph, one game used, 2-3 serial numbered cards, and maybe 6-8 parallels. I’ve been doing a lot of scouting on eBay when it comes to this and here is what I’ve deduced.
Manufacturers have placed a value of $10 per autograph and game used, and $5 per serial numbered / parallel card. Seriously, take any box of product up to $100 and apply that formula, you will see it’s fairly close. So the question now becomes, are those values accurate? For the most part, they are not. If you surf eBay as much as I do, you know that most game used can be bought for between $1-2 and even with shipping and handling the total should be around $5-7. Autographs on average runs $2-3 and with shipping and handling it goes to about $7-9.
The serial cards are different. eBay sellers place a $1 on average price tag on them. I buy most in bulk and the shipping is cut down so if I buy 20, shipping is $5 so that about a $1 holds up. So when we circle back to low end products (up to $100) we can clearly see that from the hits, we don’t make our money back. Now the million dollar question, what about base? An entire box of base cards can be had for about $10 for any low end product. If you include shipping it costs about $16 0n average. Let’s add it all up:
autograph – $8
game used – $6
parallel and serial – $7
base – $16
Total = $37
Box of 2011 Topps Football = $52 shipped
Answer = NOT A CHANCE (on average)
To me that is disconcerting, now of course the more you pay for a box (mid level and high level) the better your odds are of paying for the box with value. It must be noted though, that even though the odds are better, the monetary loss is also bigger. A $250 box such as Leaf’s Best of Baseball might only yield $100 in cards, but it also might have $500. The higher end cards are definitely a gamble. A gamble that 95% of us out there can’t afford.
In conclusion, I feel like it’s all a gamble. Whether you purchase low end or high end you will always be gambling. On average though there is no way “to make money off a box”. It’s a lot like Las Vegas, except the manufacturers are the house and we all know you might beat the house a few times, but overall the house always wins, unfortunately it’s with our money. Is there anything we can do about it? Probably not, but at least you know.
What do you think? How much do you expect to lose when you buy a box? blaster?