The Best & Worst Certified Autograph of All-Time?

Let me just start by saying that the people involved with creating the Beach Boys’ trading card set in 2013 are nothing short of geniuses. Simply put, aside from Sir Paul McCartney, there is currently no one more important to music than Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Sure, he may not be a household name but to fans of his music and media critics, Brian is right up there with Beethoven and Mozart. Unfortunately for Brian, due to 30 years of bad decisions, lawsuits, awful ideas and more … the name of the Beach Boys has lost all its luster and when compared to the Beatles, looks like a cheap, unlicensed baseball card from the late-80s.

I don’t know the story behind Panini’s creation of this set but I can imagine it didn’t cost MUCH to get the remaining Beach Boys to sign a few thousand stickers. For starters, Mike Love, the second-most famous Beach Boy around has spent the past 15 years playing free shows at baseball stadiums and local carnivals with a smug smile on his face. Word is that before the 2012 Beach Boys reunion, he was taking in less than $10,000 per performance and that money was split between himself, the band who performs with him and the road crew. One has to wonder just how much Mike would demand from Panini to sign a few trading cards.  Whatever Love charged, subtract 2/3 of it for Al Jardine, David Marks and Bruce Johnston. There is little demand for any of their signatures at the moment.

The true “white whale” of this amazing set is the several hundred autographs Brian Wilson scribbled on. From the looks of it, Brian signed approximately 700 stickers. This is just a guess, judging by the checklist I’ve seen. Despite how badly Brian signed most of these stickers, when the day comes that he passes on to the big gig in the sky, these autographs will SKYROCKET simply because they are certified. Almost half a decade since their release, they still sell all day long for nothing less than $200 on eBay. Despite the high print run, I can imagine these pushing $500 when that sad day comes.

As for the very sloppy signature found on these cards, Brian tends to sign a bit nicer when you catch him in person with ONE item. Once you hand him several hundred, like the Smile Box Set for example, you’re going to get illegible, awful-looking autographs. Also keep in mind the man is 75 years old and has battled through more demons in his lifetime than 5 or 6 of the most notorious rock stars, combined.

If you’re lucky enough to pull one of these cards from a pack or if you find one at a show for a reasonable price you will literally have the opportunity to own what is truly a piece of rock and roll history … even if it doesn’t look like much.

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Taking Issue With Beckett Media

Author: Mario Alejandro

No, it’s not what you think. I am not back to blogging full-time, nor is this another jab at Beckett Baseball’s editor, Chris Olds. Actually, since my departure from the blogosphere, Beckett’s blog has become a daily visit for me, believe it or not. While my days of collecting are behind me, I still have an interest in The Hobby, which is why I have become an avid reader of that site.

I no longer have time to keep up with the “inside” info great forums like Freedom Card Board provide, or from reading the hundreds of collector blogs so Beckett provides just the right amount of information for someone like me who wants just the facts sprinkled with the images and details. That way I can kinda sorta pretend like I know what I’m talking about on the rare occasion I log into my Wax Heaven Twitter account.

That being said, something Chris Olds said in a recent blog really irked me. Forget about the fact that I wrote about a very similar story well over a year ago. What really gets me is his assumption that many collectors “cringe” when reminded of Fleer’s Metal Universe line from the late-90’s. Yes, the cards were not as valuable as other releases from that year but are they any worse than today’s sets because it lacked relics and autographs and were a little, well, over the top? Absolutely not.

I challenge any collector to purchase a box of Metal Universe from the few years it was in production (I believe ’96-’98) and tell me what they think. First off, notice how much more enjoyable (and valuable) parallels are when they are actual tough pulls and not 10-12 per box. Second, look at the base cards and tell me when was the last time a card company put that much time and effort into their cards.

Just go out and bust a box of the uberhot 2010 Bowman and tell me how much fun you have if you don’t pull a Stephen Strasburg base or parallel. Yes, the cards are well produced, feature above average photography (most of the time) and the Refractor parallels are beautiful but how much time did you spend looking through your duds AKA commons?

With every card in Metal Universe, you had something great to look at and it didn’t matter if you just pulled a Ken Griffey Jr. or a Billy Ripken. In a day and age in collecting when parallels consist of an extra border or reflective film on a card, Metal Universe was a step in the right direction by a company that was clearly on its last legs.

No, I’m not calling for The Hobby to go back to the “good ole days” when base was everything, relics didn’t exist and autographs in packs were only done by Upper Deck; I’m just saying that a forgotten brand like Metal Universe deserves a little respect by Beckett Media since it is clear that collectors on eBay, browsing forums, and writing blogs already have plenty of respect for this unique brand from yesteryear.

For more coverage on Metal Universe, click HERE.

What’s Your Greatest eBay Wish?

Author: ToddUncommon

First of all, it’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a month since the last post on Wax Heaven, and longer since my first.  As one of my friends says, time flies when real life happens.  On the personal front, I’ve been in the midst of a job search since before Christmas.  There are positive signs that things will turn around soon.  Naturally, much of my absence from here has been in keeping the household together, managing finances, and networking for new employment.

Anyway, enough excuse making, and on to the post subject. I have been lucky enough to live about a 25-minute out-of-shape jog away from eBay headquarters for several years now.  I’ve been an eBay buyer and seller since 1998, and over that time, eBay has invited me, off and on, to come to their campus and have the privilege to participate in “usability studies”.  They bring in users and customers, and have them go through exercises and interviews to provide feedback and user insight.

Recently, eBay contacted me to offer an invitation to an expanded usability study that runs from this evening to tomorrow morning.  So far, I’ve met product managers and engineers from the pricing, search, security, and platform / architecture departments of eBay.  They’ve been very receptive and responsive to ideas and experiences with eBay that I and the other invited customers have discussed with them so far.

For my part, I mentioned some of the issues that I’ve both heard from the hobby community and experienced first-hand.  For example, I mentioned the community perception of a “double dip” between eBay insertion / final value fees and PayPal processing fees.  I also passed along concerns I’ve seen on message boards about the new pricing that eBay announced.  New or lower volume non-eBay store users have minimal insertion fees, but eBay stores will see the five cent insertion fee for inventory (Buy it Now) items going away, and being priced higher.  For card sellers on eBay, this can be a daunting shift to readjust dozens (to hundreds) of listings to find a way to sell low-price / low-demand cards, and still find a way to come out ahead.

eBay is, like it or not, the central marketplace for our hobby, whether you’re a dabbler or a retailer.  Nearly every card shop I know that still exists does significant business on eBay.  The most successful shops tell me they do nearly a third of their business on eBay, and it helps keep their physical store open (at least as long as rent doesn’t go up).  Here’s a prime shot to tell eBay what you really think needs to change or be improved, at least for our “Sports Mem, Cards and Fan Shop” category that’s been as staple of the site since it was conceived.

Although this is short notice, I return for additional sessions tomorrow morning here on the West Coast, and I am inviting you to comment on this post with the things that both bother and concern you the most about eBay, as well as any ideas you might have to suggest for improvement.  It’s one thing for me to interpret my experiences and what I’ve heard, and another to be able to go back tomorrow morning, point to Wax Heaven, and say “take a look”.

So, what would you tell eBay if you could?