Sports Illustrated Blog #58 – Maturing of the Hobby – Here We Come!

Welcome to my Sports Illustrated/TIME magazine blog – Your collector’s guide to the latest hobby updates and insight into what’s trending now.

This is not the end, no, not even the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.  Sorry I can’t take credit for that one (Winston Churchill on the defeating of the German Luftwaffe by the Royal Air Force).  But it perfectly sums up the current evolution of our hobby. 

In recent times, we’ve started to see the beginning of the maturing of the graded magazine hobby.   We now have several thousand graded examples of SI, TIME, Sport, etc, magazines and things have started to settle in like dinosaurs in a tar pit.

A cursory review of these findings leads me to the following opinions.  Focusing on pre-1980 mags, if you have an SI cover that is a 9.4 or higher, there is a high statistical probability that grade will remain the highest into perpetuity.   I believe this to be true (and it is important that investors and collectors alike know this is not just a marketing claim but an opinion based on years of data) because I have observed millions of wannabees thru my countless internet searches, collection appraisals, and blog connections.  Barring the outer edges of the curve, pristine covers are just not out there.  OK – there are still the infrequent entries (outside 3 sigma) that grade high, but no major cover graded 9.4 or above, has been exceeded in over two years.  And that is a statistic to which we should be paying attention.

The reason all this is important is that many buyers are speculating on future results but, 

The more accurately we can predict future results, the less risk we have in our investments.

There are also variables which should be considered when attempting to predict future high grades.  For ex., SI covers between 7-1-56 and 12-31-70 have not held up particularly well under the stresses of time.  Therefore, a high grade from this era is likely to be scarcer than issues outside this era. 

If by chance you were to find the new highest grade of the 56 Mantle, 63 Clay, 77 Bird, 59 Unitas, 60 Brown, 83 Jordan and maybe 5-10 others, you can quit your day job.  Find one of these and you will set the entire hobby abuzz.  Make sure you get it accurately/appropriately appraised before you sell – if you sell.

So we are entering a new era of graded mag collecting.  Perhaps the biggest change is the number of interested parties.  In the past year, I have seen the buyer categories – investor, serious collector, casual collector, gift buyer – each appreciate in size and breadth much faster than early expectations. 

Investors now have competition and serious collectors have come to realize they may not be able to own the top grade and are having no problem buying up lower grades.  The casual collector and the gift giver love the encapsulation but care little about the grade.  Everybody, whether it be collector or gift giver, all seem to want their favorite player, event, or memory in graded encapsulation.

What great time it is to be an SI collector!

Next time we’ll take on the diamonds of the mid-grades.  There’s plenty of opportunity.

I hope you are enjoying the reads on the history of TIME and SI magazines as well as an insight into relevant magazine collecting.

Great collecting to you and best fortunes with Sports Illustrated/TIME!

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