The Black Swamp Find baseball cards: How do they affect me?

Paul, I've just read about the E98 Black Swamp Find baseball cards and I'm a little concerned about my own collection. How will this affect me in the future? - Jim, Colorado

You don't say whether you collect E98s or not Jim, but if you do I'm afraid it's not great news. These newly found mint condition E98 cards have greatly altered the market and are sure to lower prices in the coming years.

Prior to the find, the grading company PSA had authenticated fewer than 700 E98 cards. With a further 700 better condition cards now added to that figure, the "old" cards' rarity (and therefore, value) will undoubtedly be significantly decreased.

For example, the best Ty Cobb card before the discovery was a grade 7 example. The once proud owner of that card now has 16 Ty Cobbs with a 9 grading to compete with when he decides to sell, driving his less desirable card down into the lower end of the spectrum.

However, if you have a fairly diverse collection of cards outside of the E98 series you should be fine. The new additions to the known E98s are unlikely to affect the prices of those from other series and your overall collection will still be of value. I always recommend that my customers diversify their collections as much as possible, whatever the area, so they are still left with options should situations like this arise.

When it comes to forming any collection, it is important to ascertain the number of known examples and also if any more could appear in the future. This information is easier to gain in well-documented areas such as stamp collecting, where finite amounts of a particular stamp were produced and issued on a certain date, and the likelihood of any further examples appearing is non-existant.

This is perfectly demonstrated by one of the finest stamps in our collection, The Black Empress. First issued in 1851, the stamp is a unique example of the Canadian 12d black, which is renowned throughout the philatelic world as the only unhinged version in existence. No more of these stamps will ever be issued and the limited numbers that were produced have all been recorded, making it a highly desirable collector's item and pushing its value ever higher.

Likewise for coin collecting, where the amount of coins struck is meticulously recorded by the mint before they are released into circulation. The most valuable coin in our collection is one of just five examples, two of which are currently housed in museums and one has a hole through it!

This is a recurring trend throughout the collecting world and you often find that when population catalogues are published, values in that particular market increase significantly.  

The Black Swamp Find was an unfortunate turn of events for E98 collectors that could not have been anticipated. However, there are lessons to be learnt from the discovery. Firstly, diversity is crucial to maintaining a strong collection and secondly, invest some of your time into that all-important research - it could earn you some fantastic returns!


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