eBay, USPS and the Death of the International Singles Market

Time to stand on my soapbox once again and bemoan the injustices inherent in being an overseas (i.e. non-US based) card collector!

Since starting this blog I’ve written at length about the problems in collecting outside the US. From obscene (and often random) import duties and admin charges to actually finding sellers who are prepared to ship internationally, the odds have always been pretty much stacked against us! Such is our lot in our collecting lives!

When USPS increased their shipping rates at the end of January 2013 the writing was already on the wall for anyone based in the US wanting to send parcels abroad. And while domestic US prices saw a small increase it was the cost of international shipping that was a real shocker!!

You can click on this link to read all about my thoughts on the USPS increases.

Late in 2012 eBay introduced their Global Postage Program, designed to help streamline the purchasing and shipping process for both sellers and international buyers. While I championed the program as far as getting hold of boxes of wax, I did envisage some potential issues with the purchasing of singles.

Click here to read my thoughts on the GPP.

Anyway, the reason for my current musings have come about while scanning some eBay listings today, on the hunt for some potential bargains in Cardinals jersey and bat relics. I started to notice a familiar pattern with regard to lower cost items and inflated shipping prices due to seller’s listing international shipping through the GPP.

Check these out, and pay close attention to the cost of the card against the cost of the postage –

freese1 freese2 cabrera1 cabrera2

As you can see, if I wanted to ‘Buy It Now’ on the David Freese relic I’ll end up paying over $18 extra in postage due to the sellers use of the Global Postage Program. If the seller sent this without using the GPP it would likely cost between $5 and $8, depending on the type of packaging used. Postage on the Miggy, as you can see, is even more!!

Yet have a look at this Adam Jones as an example of a listing without the GPP –

jones1 jones2

Here the postage for the single card is $6.50 – a much more realistic proposition! To be honest there will plenty of overseas collectors out there who would baulk at the idea of paying $6.50, but it’s important to remember that this amount is down to the machinations of USPS and NOT the seller!

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So where does that leave us now?

To be honest, the purchasing of single cards off eBay for international collectors is a costly proposition! Through the USPS increases and eBay’s implementation of the GPP things have gotten worse almost overnight, and the singles market for international collectors is all but dead.

If USPS sounded the death knell then eBay pretty much put the nail in the coffin! I know that there are alternative ways of getting your singles (COMC, Collector Revolution) but it doesn’t take an idiot to understand that eBay has far and away a greater variety of cards on offer.

So all I can do at this stage is send a message out to US sellers on behalf of all overseas collectors! I know there are a lot of you who won’t ship overseas for a variety of reasons, and I appreciate that. But to those of you who do ship internationally I implore you to not use eBay’s Global Postage Program when listing singles!

As I’ve demonstrated above the price that buyers have to pay in total for a single card is extortionately high once the GPP admin fees are figured into the final shipping cost. I’ve spoken with several sellers recently who weren’t even aware of the impact the GPP has, simply because they don’t see any extra fees being added as part of their listing process.

But the fact of the matter remains in that when the postage amount far exceeds the initial value of the card itself then no-one will ever want to buy it, which affects both the buyer and the seller. There are several cards today that I would have happily picked up had the postage amount not been inflated by the presence of the GPP in the eBay listing!

This might not matter to most sellers as international custom will only make up a miniscule percentage of their business, but without the option to purchase singles from US-based sellers our collecting options become severely limited and there’s a real danger that this could turn a lot of international collectors away from the Hobby!

And I don’t know about you guys, but I think that will be a crying shame!

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Teaser Gallery: Panini America Cracks One Early Box of 2013 Cooperstown Baseball

Man, this seemed to come around quickly!! We’re only a few days away from the release of this year’s iteration of Cooperstown Baseball from Panini and Tracy has been kind enough to provide us with a look at an early break! Firstly, I absolutely love the packaging, especially the packs! Nice classic look which fits in perfectly with the type of product we’re dealing with! And then, as with last years product, there’s a huge array of base cards, parallels and inserts!! You can’t argue the value for money that appears to be on show in these boxes, but the cherry on top for me always comes in the form of the on-card autograph of a Hall of Famer, the design of which looks simple, elegant and incredibly classy!! More on this set as soon as it hits!!!

The Knight's Lance

Panini America 2013 Cooperstown Baseball Teaser (7)

Simply put, there’s a refreshing old-meets-new dynamic within each box — and almost within every pack — of Panini America’s 2013 Cooperstown Baseball that makes the first pack as entertaining and educational to open as the last. And after just ripping through all 24 packs of an early hobby box, we can say for certain that there’s also an abundance of hits, too.

Our particular randomly selected box — detailed in the gallery below that takes you pack-by-pack through the experience — yielded 24 Colgan’s Disks, 13 Cracked Ice parallels (and four levels of scarcity), four Induction inserts, four Historic Ticket inserts, three Museum Pieces inserts, two Numbers Game inserts, two Cooperstown Lumberjacks wood cards, two Colorized base-set SPs, one International Play and one splendid Cooperstown Signatures on-card autograph.

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A&G Half-Case Break – The Results

A couple of weeks ago I took part in another box break through Kidder Cards. It was a half-case break of 2013 Allen & Ginter’s and I’d purchased the Cardinals slot some weeks earlier.

Happily the cards arrived last week and although I didn’t get any major hits as I’d done the time before – click here for the details of that – I was still very pleased with the results!!

Here’s what I got –

agbreakbase agbreaksp agbreakminis

I came out with a full set of base cards (non-SPs) along with a fair few dupes as well. Oddly enough I only got the one Shelby Miller RC out of the six boxes despite the fact there were pretty much at least two of all of the other major RCs, including Puig and Machado.

I’m not sure what the collation was like across the board and we might get more details on this over time as some of the bigger case breakers write up the results of their breaks.

Out of the three Cardinal SPs in the set I got two of the three (Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright – although I doubled up on the Molina). This means I’m an Ozzie Smith SP short of a full team set, so if anyone out there’s got The Wizard for trade then let me know as I’ll definitely be interested in that one!

Finally I got two minis (Stan The Man and Waino, both standard backs). I love the A&G minis, especially this years!! I’m still toying with the idea of putting together a set of the A&G back minis but keep baulking at the thought of how big a task I might be setting myself!

We’ll have to wait and see!!!

I don’t know if it’s me or not but there seems to be a whole lot more HOFers and retired players this year, not that I’m complaining as I like seeing older players depicted in modern sets, and the more different players that are added to those from previous years the better as far as I’m concerned!

So there we go!! No relics, autos or other hi-end inserts this time round. In some ways I’m glad I didn’t hit any of the framed relics as several of the ones that Geoff pulled as part of the break were damaged out of the box. It looks as if this was done during the packing process and I hope that Topps will resolve this for those who landed any of these damaged inserts!

Thanks go, as always to Geoff, for the break itself and the exemplary post-break customer service! Here’s to the next one!!

2013/14 Topps Premier Gold Soccer Preview

The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed a short post back on 9th August announcing (no – more like “shouting from the rooftops”) the forthcoming release of Topps’ first official trading card set dedicated to the Barclays Premier League!

No, I’m sorry Topps Attax, but you most certainly don’t bloody count!

Now, this will be a Football card set and I won’t make any apologies for not calling it anything other than that! Topps may well label it up as ‘Soccer’ but to anyone outside the US, Football is what it will be!

I mentioned back in that post two weeks ago that although I set The Wax Fantastic up as a Baseball card blog 12 months ago I’d be remiss if I didn’t cover this set (along with any other Premier League sets) that Topps are kind enough to release in the future! I also promised to try and keep you as up to date as possible with any details about this set as they emerge, so here we are with the first official product release details straight from Topps!

2013/14 Topps Premier Gold Soccer Sell Sheet

Topps has gone for the high-end release with this particular set and this might not be a bad thing as a way of introducing collectors to the wonders of the English Premier League. Good quality cards with a varied array of game-used relics and autographs will hopefully strike just the right balance to draw collectors in! Picking up a box of this may well be out of the price range of most collector’s when it comes out but I get the feeling that there will be a healthy singles market springing from this set!!

If the set is a success then I’m hoping that a ‘proper’ trading card release will be just around the corner, something akin to one of the base Topps US sports with 300+ cards per set and a handful of inserts and a relic/auto per box! This will give us more players from more teams, and will be a true representation of what we’d expect from a Premier League Football card set!!

Hats off to Topps for having the stones to produce a product like this. Football is easily the most followed sport across the world and the Barclay’s Premiership arguably the most prominent and supported league!

Topps has effectively lit the torch, now it’s up to the rest of us to carry it and ensure that this set is the success it deserves to be, paving the way for more Football related products from Topps in the future!

Introducing… The Squiggle Squad

Perhaps one of the more annoying aspects of the Hobby, particularly for autograph collectors (but we all can emote in some small way), is the growing trend amongst professional athletes to seemingly not take enough care and time when signing their certified autographed cards!

However, I can appreciate that the growing demands on the time for these people can be pretty huge, so to indulge in a monotonous ‘mass-signing’ task must be pretty soul destroying at times, and any conceivable way to speed things up is pretty much a necessity!

As a result we see the effects of what I call ‘BArely LegibLe Signature Syndrome’ or BALLS (for the purpose of a cheap laugh)!

Now I’m not tarnishing ALL ballplayers with the same brush as there are dozens of excellent signers out there, especially amongst the older players. There are some HOFer signatures that border on the downright exquisite, and there are a number of current signers could do well to learn a few things from these great gentlemen of the game when it comes to gracing Baseball cards with their own John Hancocks!

So it’s with the ‘corner-cutters’ in mind, those Baseball players who appear to suffer an acute case of BALLS, that I dedicate the 1st Annual Squiggle Squad Awards!

I know that everyone will have their own favourites, some of which will differ greatly to the ones here, but I’ve put mine down by position (which unfortunately meant I had to exclude Jason Heyward, whose auto is bad enough to warrant a special mention despite his absence from the list)!

Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, I give you ‘The Squiggle Squad’!

Catcher
Wilin Rosario

catcher

First Base
Paul Goldschmidt

firstbase

Second Base
Dustin Pedroia

secondbase

Third Base
Brett Lawrie

thirdbase

Shortstop
Ian Desmond

shortstop

Left Field
Carl Crawford

leftfield

Centre Field
Jon Jay

centrefield

Right Field
Wil Myers

rightfield

Starter
Tony Cingrani

starter

Closer
Jim Johnson

closer

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You know, you’ve just gotta love that Wil Myers, haven’t you? And as a Cardinals fan – “Jon Jay!! You should be ashamed of yourself!!”

A huge congratulations to all the worthy recipients! You’re all a great credit to the world of crappy certified autograph signing!!

As I noted above, there are dozens of other potential winners of these ‘prestigious’ awards! If you’ve got a favourite then why not send it in with a link to the card and I’ll look at posting some more at some point in the future!

How To Improve The Hobby

No, just relax. This isn’t me having another ‘soapbox’ moment about the current ‘state’ of the card collecting Hobby!

I can’t even take the credit for these posts, I’m simply just the messenger on this occasion! So instead I’ll hand you over to Sport Card Collectors who have put together a series of articles that look at different aspects of the Hobby and examines what works; what doesn’t; and IF it doesn’t, what can be done to make things better.

Rather than casting disparaging and overly negative remarks against the card companies and other hobbyists, what we actually get are a series of nicely thought through posts that seek to build rather than pull down! There are only four different articles and I’ve put the links to each one below.

Please, please, please take the time to read them and leave any comments as you see fit and follow Sport Card Collectors on Twitter @SportsCardCollec

Thanks for your time!

How To Improve The Hobby Part 1: Redemptions

How To Improve The Hobby Part 2: Target “Ole Fashioned Collectors”

How To Improve The Hobby Part 3: Target Hobby’s Future

How To Improve The Hobby Part 4: Customer Service

An Allen & Ginter’s Trade

Continuing our ongoing A&G theme I just wanted to let you know of a recent trade I completed with a fellow UK collector and Cardinals fan, Jeff Vernon!

Jeff ordered four boxes of Ginter and bust them all last Friday, I’ve put a link to his review in the A&G Review Hub (Jeff’s Collection’s) or you can click here to have a look. There was a nice selection of cards from the looks of things, including a Shelby Miller mini framed auto and a redemption for a Don Mattingly mini framed auto! Not too shabby!!

So I had a look at his ‘Wants List’ and sent him some singles from 2013 Archives, and in return I got the following –

Madison Bumgarner Mini Framed Jersey Relic

bumgarner

I know that these mini relics really divide opinion, especially around the design of the borders. And while it’s true that they’ve lost some of their colour and sparkle over the last few years, I really have to admit to loving this year’s border design. Particularly the ‘art deco’ themed one that encases the Bumgarner above.

So this was a no-brainer! Nice looking card and the my daughter’s almost end up pissing themselves laughing whenever they hear the name ‘Bumgarner’! Kids, eh?

And as an aside you can pop over to Night Owl Cards for a great examination of the A&G mini frames over the last few years!

‘People on Bicycles’ Mini Insert

bicycle

I’ve written at length about my love of the non-Baseball minis that have littered Ginter throughout the years! And despite the fact that I’ve already tried to (unsuccessfully) put a few of these sets together before I still like the idea of having another stab at them.

There’s just something so – I dunno – collectable about them!!

Paul Goldschmidt Mini Framed Autograph

goldschmidt

While it looks as if that the D’Backs young slugger is the latest in a long line of illegible signers (I’ve decided to christen them ‘The Squiggle Squad’) I was really happy to get hold of this! Goldschmidt is a beast and this card is definitely a keeper!!

Back in late 2010, just as I’d just returned to the Hobby, I bought a retail box of 2010 Allen & Ginter’s! It was something of an impulse buy at the time but it did pay dividends as I pulled a Clayton Kershaw mini framed auto. Unfortunately I eBayed it not long after and I’ve come to regret that decision for obvious reasons.

So from this point forward any auto’s that I get like this, even if they aren’t Cardinals players, I’ll be keeping hold of, thank you very much!!

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So overall I was very happy with these three cards (along with the few extra singles that he threw in)! I did try and pry the Mattingly redemption off him but no joy 🙂

So many thanks for the cards Jeff! Lets hope we can do it again soon!!