Cards like this are not typically included in the "regular" pricing section by Beckett (nor in the OPG), and for good reason. I won't go into how their published book values are usually out of whack anyway, but a card with a print run of, for example, 10, is simply too "volatile" to be able to accurately price. I agree with that.
So Beckett's monthly column does list some of those cards. They have also, on occasion, published "bonus" reports online. With the Beckett Hockey now moving to a bi-monthly publication, the usefulness of the Short Reports column is becoming a little less useful. With more and more of these low print run cards coming out, they are becoming more available. Hence more people are buying more of them.
To briefly go off on a tangent, one of my Pet Peeves in the hobby occurs when someone says "What is this worth?" The smart-ass (and absolutely correct) answer is "Whatever someone will pay for it." Of course, this is no good to someone who has pulled it from a pack, won it on eBay due to a poorly-titled auction, or whatever. Some people generally are curious about "real world value" and rightfully so.
So when someone has a question about Short Reports-calibre cards, what can they do? Usually one suggestion is to check eBay's completed auctions. There are a couple of problems with this. eBay only makes this data available for 30-days, so that is the most obvious pitfall. Also, what if it is a 1/1 card? Unless the card has been flipped, you won't see that exact card on eBay.
Without any concrete record of what another copy of, say a /15 UD Patch card would sell for, the next most typical response is to check for similar releases from previous years, or for the going rate of a similarly collected player. Still better, but what if you can't find recent prices for /15 UD Patch cards, or know who a player in the same "selling bracket" as Corey Perry would be? What if Perry gets hot all of the sudden and his cards moved "brackets"?
So in an effort to tackle some of these questions, back in November of '07 I attempted to create my own publicly available Short Reports database. It was quite the lofty goal, and while I at least had a viable framework in place, it was wrought with problems from the start.
It started originally as a pet project of mine where I had planned on inputting all the Beckett Hockey SR columns into the database. Unfortunately Beckett does not include the specific serial number, complete player listings (if multiple players are on a card), or even the card number. These were all pieces of information that I wanted, because I wanted them to be searchable fields. This meant that I had to do a lot of homework, mostly spending time toiling over checklists from UD or ITG. For older sets from Topps or Pacific, I had to resort to Beckett's MyCollection portion.
My database was housed in MySQL and was nothing fancy, and was in no way normalized, to use proper database parlance. The structure and random examples was as followed:
id - an auto_increment field
setname - "2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup"
card - "Original Sticks Gold"
player - "Bill Guerin, Mike Modano"
numbering - "8/10" (if exact serial number was not known, it had x/10)
notes - "Magenta" (referring to press plate color)
source - "scrub" (more on this later)
amount - "$450.00"
date - "2007-10-29" (the date of the actual sale, or the date of the Beckett magazine release)
The structure was the easy part. Even all the PHP pages I created to interface with the data were a breeze. The most time-consuming part was gathering the data, standardizing it for consistency (calling it "Upper Deck" and not "UD" all the time), and having to look up a lot of the missing data I referred to above.
The sources were another interesting part. I checked for the following:
-Beckett (from the monthly column or the online bonus listings)
-self (these were cards I purchased myself, almost exclusively for my Jagr collection)
-contribution (these were private sells people told me about, usually members from Hobby Insider)
The "scrub" is where it gets interesting. We all shop on eBay. We all know some sellers who we see quite frequently. I tapped into that and starting checking feedback on sellers I knew of that dealt in high-end stuff. High-end oftentimes translated into a /24 or less card, and the mere presence of feedback would (in theory) mean the transaction was legitimate. Toward the end I had a list of approximately 60 eBay users, both buyers and sellers, whose feedback I checked.
I also had a number of saved searches that I ran, usually on a weekly basis. I created a new eBay account solely for tracking and would add these to my watchlist. Once done I would wait for feedback to be left then I would add the pertinent information to the database. Curious about some of the searches? Here you go. As you can probably guess, some were created when a product first hit:
- SPx (1,5,10,15)
- (BTP,"between the pipes") (emblem,number*)
- (lumber*,cut,titlist*,shield*,logo) -donruss -die -laser -clear -diamond -mcdonald* -team -opc -50 -"blue shield" -"steve shields" -"crease cut" -sticker* -399 -699 -25 -100
- cup (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24) -25 -199 -75 -249 -50
- cut auto* -die
- patch 15 -25 -50
- rookie material* (15,patch)
- significance -25 -50 -100
- (international,intl*) ice (gold,10,20)
- (spgu,sp) (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,15,20) -authentic -25 -100 -50 -999 -499 -spx -letter -base
- o canada (gold,emblem,number,patch)
- ultimate achiev*
- ult* (mto,made to order)
- by letter
There were others, but you get the gist.
Lastly, I maintained a text file of auction numbers that I just came across in my random searching. The idea was to go back on those and see if feedback was left. That text file contained somewhere around 450 item IDs from eBay when I called it quits.
So where did all this get me? In the few short months I compiled data and actively maintained my Short Reports database, I accounted for 4305 total cards whose combined selling amount totaled a staggering $587,863.47.
Wanna see for yourself? Go check it out:
Short Reports Database
Note that it is no longer being updated. I spent between 5 and 10 hours a week on just the data portion. Ultimately it would be great if someone could take it over, but it was quite time consuming. Overall I am extremely proud how much I got done with just the framework itself.
Anyone with the time, willingness, and patience to take over the project, just let me know!