When Is the Right Time to Sell?5 min read

Dumping One’s Collection Can Be Emotionally Draining

I’ve asked myself this question a hundred times over the past 10 years: When is the right time to sell? As a sports memorabilia collector for the past 30 years, I’ve acquired my fair share of collectibles. I’m a big proponent of collecting what you love as opposed to what might increase in value, so I’ve gathered up a good portion of Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots memorabilia since entering the hobby. As a lifelong Boston fan, that’s what makes me tick. I live and die with the Sox, C’s and Pats.

Getting a private batting lesson from Ted Williams, a.k.a. “the greatest hitter who ever lived.”
1975 Topps Fred Lynn #622 rookie card.

Since 1993, I’ve survived two failed marriages and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma yet I’ve still hung on to my 1975 Topps Fred Lynn #622 rookie card, my prized Ted Williams signed baseball, the John Havlicek signed basketball I received from Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA), and the authentic Patriots jersey autographed by Super Bowl LI hero Julian Edelman.

But now, since I’m north of 50, I wonder: “What should I do with all of this stuff?” Should I sell it and put a portion of the money toward my daughter Dylan’s college education fund? Should I sell some of it and take a nice vacation? The common-sense answer to these questions if “yes.” But the emotional side of my equation begs to differ. For instance, will anyone else ever appreciate my collection as much as I do? I already asked Dylan and she’s not interested in it. But then it comes down to dollars and cents, and space allocation. Can my living arrangement improve by losing some of the clutter? Should family photos replace shots of me hanging out with some of the legends of the game?

Each of the items mentioned above constitutes a personal connection for me. With Fred Lynn, I’ve had the good fortune of talking with him on several occasions. In fact, during my tenure with Upper Deck, I worked alongside Fred at a hobby shop signing session in Anaheim where I adhered UDA holograms to each of the items he autographed. I’ve since bumped into him around north county San Diego a few times and it seems we always pick up right where we left off.

I’m a big proponent of collecting what you love as opposed to what might increase in value. Click To TweetRegarding Williams, well, that one’s special. Just a week before I got married (the first time) in May of ‘93, I interviewed “Teddy Ballgame” at his home in Hernando, Florida. That’s where he signed the baseball I still treasure. He was announcing the start of the Ted Williams Card Company and I was a member of the hobby press invited to attend their launch party. He was very candid, swore like a sailor and even gave me an on-the-spot batting lesson. It’s one interview I will never forget. When we were done talking about his plans, he signed a baseball and handed it to me. “Good luck to you,” he said. I honestly wasn’t sure if he was referring to my ensuing article or my impending marriage, which I had mentioned to him earlier that day.

It was incredible meeting John Havlicek, the man I looked up to all those years as a Celtics fan.

Basketball Hall of Famer John Havlicek was my favorite player growing up. He always seemed to hit clutch shots at pivotal moments for my team, the Boston Celtics. I watched him help the C’s win a pair of NBA titles in 1974 and ’76 and get inducted into Springfield in 1984. I finally got to meet the man affectionately known as “Hondo” during the 2015 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago. It was a dream come true. And while I have yet to meet Edelman, I can’t help but respect his gritty play out on the field of battle and tip my cap to him for helping the Patriots win two of their five Super Bowl titles. He is easily my favorite player right now on New England’s roster.

So why am I considering letting go of it all? Or at least some of it? Because the truth is I’m not a rich man, although I do consider myself rich with memories. And at this stage in my life – when I could certainly use a few more bucks to make ends meet – why not? It’s not to say I won’t retain some of the more significant pieces in my collection (i.e., the Williams baseball), but something I learned during my tenure at SCP Auctions is that you might be surprised by the money your items can fetch. For example, a team-signed 2008 Boston Celtics NBA Champions 16 x 20 photo that I paid $50 for during an employee sale at Upper Deck, sold for $1,390 at auction. It was signed by 10 members of the team including the Big 3 (Garnett, Pierce and Allen), but it was in a top-loader only; no frame, no mat, no bells and whistles. It did come with the serial-numbered COA and matching hologram from UDA as well as autograph pre-certification by PSA/DNA, so that helped. But that single transaction opened my eyes to the fact that there really is an interested buyer for just about anything you might be selling. And you know what? There’s always more “stuff” out there if you feel need to indulge.

The bottom line is this: Sell whatever you have, whenever you want. It’s your prerogative. But ponder these few questions first. Will your psyche be forever scarred if you let it go? Will removing the item or items from your collection throw it into complete disarray? Do you still have adequate wall space to devote to more collectibles? If your answers are no, go for it. And remember, you can always set a reserve price for the item you’re selling. That way, if it doesn’t reach reserve, you get it back with no questions asked. No harm, no foul. But if your item does sell, don’t fret. It may be gone, but the memory lasts a lifetime.

Posted by Terry Melia

Terry Melia is a hobby veteran who has served in various PR and marketing roles for industry movers and shakers including The Upper Deck Company and SCP Auctions and is currently working as PSA's Public Relations Specialist.

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