What’s In the Cards?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
By Jon Newberry

> Click Here to View the Slideshow of Valuable Hawks Cards

On the court you probably have to start with the retired numbers: 9 (Pettit), 23 (Hudson) and 21 (“Nique”) But in the world of sports memorabilia, there is a different set of criteria for assessing value.

We are going to take a look at which Hawk demands the highest prices at the trade shows and in the auctions (online or otherwise). To simplify the discussion we will start with trading cards before getting into all of the different types of memorabilia items that exist today.

Basketball Cards
The mass printing of basketball cards dates back to 1948 when Bowman came out with a 72 card set, but there have been a few gaps in production.

To help explain how these breaks in production affected prices, we talked with Bob Pressley, the owner of B.P. Sports in Marietta, Ga., who is a 24-year veteran of the sports collectible industry.

“The 1986 Fleer Basketball set is the best example,” Bob said. “That left a 4 year gap between the previous printing of basketball cards from any major company. That set holds some of the biggest names in the sport (Jordan, Barkley, Wilkins, Worthy, Olajuwan, Ewing, Malone) and it was released during the largest growth period the sport has seen (that’s my opinion, not any fact that I’m aware of). The 1986 Fleer basketball set is the Holy Grail of basketball card sets! In mint condition that set will run $1,000 minimum. In contrast, one of the other major sports card sets from 1986 sell for more than $50.”

So which basketball card featuring a Hawk is the most valuable?
* All prices based on listing from the price guide (pdf) at TuffStuff.com

Bob Pettit? He would make sense. His cards are old and there were only two seasons when a complete set was mass printed during his career. His 1958 Topps card is listed at $200, but it is not the most valuable.

Dominique Wilkins? There wasn’t a set printed for ‘Nique’s actual rookie season, so his card is one that helps make the 1986 Fleer set so valuable. Still, there are many more of those cards still in circulation today, so his “rookie” card is priced at $45, much less than Pettit’s.

Hudson? Lou Hudson’s rookie card from the 1970 Topps set is priced at $25.

We then come to the winner: “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Maravich’s 1971 Topps card is priced at $300, much more than any other card in the set. Wilt Chamberlain and Lew Alcindor are the second most valuable cards, priced at $85.

There are a few reasons why Pete’s cards are so valuable. His popularity has always been high because of his entertaining style of play and his record setting performances in college at LSU. See the memorabilia section below for more on the “Pistol” and why his cards are so valuable.

There are a few notable cards that were not mass produced. The first two were printed as part of a 22-card “test” set for Topps in 1969. Every card in the set is listed at $250 or more, including a pair of Hawks, Zelmo Beaty and Bill Bridges. In addition, Dominique Wilkins had a card printed in 1984 as part of the Star brand of basketball cards. Since this reflected ‘Nique’s true rookie card, it has a high price tag of $180.

The sports memorabilia industry has changed a lot over the years. Again, we spoke to B.P. Sports’ Bob Pressley.

“Diversity of products and technology,” is what Pressley pointed to as the biggest change. “The number of products (which is also tied to technology in many cases) are nearly endless today and technology has changed the way most people obtain their memorabilia. Just like the majority of retail in this country, the online option continues to grow and give people the opportunity to see and obtain items that 10-20 years ago were difficult. In years past you would have to attended a convention/show in hopes of finding your specific item. Today a quick online search will typically provide a link to your item or at least a lead pointing you in the needed direction.”

Again, it is the “Pistol” that fetches the highest prices in auctions. This article written by Ted Kietlinski for SportsCollectorsDigest.com was written in 2008, but is still accurate today. It gives a thorough explanation about why Maravich was, and is, such a fan favorite.

> Click Here to View the Slideshow of Valuable Hawks Cards

B.P. Sports was the first organization to create sports collectible conventions/shows incorporating autograph guests in the greater Atlanta area in the late 1980’s as the collectible industry started to soar. Over the years they have executed 80+ conventions and shows in the Atlanta area highlighting guests such as, Muhammad Ali, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Joe Namath, Dominique Wilkins, Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones and more.

Click Here for a list of upcoming events hosted by B.P. Sports