The 2018 version of the National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) was held in Cleveland from Wednesday, August 1st through Sunday, August 5th. Setup for the show is on Monday and Tuesday prior to these dates. This was lucky number 7 as far as Nationals in Cleveland. Previous Cleveland Nationals were held in 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2014 and this year’s show. The past few years has seen consolidation of the National into the Chicago/Cleveland markets to be more centralized to the participants. And, largely because it makes more money for the promoters in those cities.
The 2019 National will be in Chicago followed by 2020 in Atlantic City and no future dates beyond that have been announced although rumors persist that Chicago may become a 3 year home for the National beginning in 2021. The East and West coast sites seem to be being squeezed out of any possible rotations.
This year’s National proved to me that the hobby is pretty strong. Although the show is the NSCC, there are some Non-Sports dealers in attendance and some sports dealers who bring nonsports as well. While there were some in attendance again this year, the number seems to be dwindling recently. There were probably less than 4-5 dealers who had any real density in nonsports cards and another dozen or so that had a good amount of nonsports. Much of these dealers tended to have 1950’s-1970’s Topps type of nonsports with few T cards and even fewer N cards.
To me, it seemed like one of the hottest things at the show were unopened wax packs, boxes and cases. Steve Sabow had a phenomenal case full of nonsports packs and another with even more eye-opening sports packs.
BBCE, the undisputed heavyweight of unopened material and arbiter of the majority of grading packs and boxes and certifying unopened boxes had some incredible boxes and cases with even more incredible prices. While they were mostly sports boxes and cases, the numbers were just staggering for wax that would have been significantly less even 3-4 years ago.
$110K? WOW. Just. WOW.
BBCE always has beautiful graded packs, cellos and boxes.
That 1979/1980 OPC Hockey box was just shy of the $58,900 I paid for my first house. Let’s see……36 packs or a 1200 square foot house?
The price of mid-1970’s baseball wax packs, boxes and cases is just totally out of control!
Grading was again center stage in Cleveland. PSA, Beckett and SGC were the primary companies yet again and PSA’s operation dwarfs all the others as usual. Prices for grading have gone up significantly at the shows over the last 2-3 years and it seems to have done nothing with demand. The lines at PSA are consistently into the hours to get through while Beckett and SGC are significantly less. PSA’s customer service and turnaround times are abysmal and they still continue to be the market leader. If you can get a batch of cards in through the PSA boondoggle in 3-4 months, you are ahead of most. SGC has recently completely revamped their website and grading standards to align more closely to the other two in terms of the 1-10 grading scale with half point increments. The previous world of SGC40, 50, 60, etc is now gone. Lots of opinions on the new SGC flip have been negative but I’m okay with the revision. It’s gone from a green flip to a black one with the largest grading number of any of the companies out there. We will see how it plays out long-term.
Talking with dealers, it seemed like Thursday was a banner day and the overall week was very successful. There was a lot of money in the room and it seemed to be exchanged pretty frequently.
One of my favorite items in the show was the early 20th century folk art piece that contained a huge amount of Canadian nonsport and sport issues meticulously sewn together to make the beautiful piece illustrated below:
The piece contained baseball, hockey and lacrosse players from early Canadian sports sets and even contained the C55 Georges Vezina hockey card which has always been the most sought after hockey card.
The piece was 15 cards high by 23 cards wide for a total of 345 cards. A price tag of $1000 was high but probably really fair on it given it’s importance and just the overall craftsmanship of the piece. Not sure what it ultimately sold for but it went on the first or second day.
I collect both sports and nonsports but this year I’d say I spent about 80% on sportscards. I just couldn’t find enough N cards to really inch that total up more. I should have looked more closely at Rhett Yeakley’s assortment of T and N cards but couldn’t get my phone to connect to pull up my Allen Ginter checklist when I was at his booth. The wifi/cell reception in the IX center is absolutely ridiculous. You’d think by 2018, these venues would understand the need for connectivity and would boost their services but many arenas and convention centers just do not.
As usual, the food in Cleveland continues to be subpar. The IX center is an island on one corner of the airport and there’s nothing anywhere really near it. So you are relegated to either bringing your food or eating the stuff they call food. In Chicago and Baltimore, you can walk out of the convention centers and get great food in walking distance, so that’s so much better.
I got to see Marty Krim, his always lovely wife Debby, Bill Cornell, Richard Masson, Rhett Yeakley, Tom Ryan, Eric Beachley, Gary May from the U.K., Daniel Hollandbeck, Bill Miller, Lee Behrens, Steve Lucas, Bryan Dwyer and Mark Finn among other folks from the board. Was able to have a beer with Daniel and Mark one day and Eric the other. Really the only consistently good thing about the food and beverages in Cleveland. Saw advertisers from Goldin, REA and Sterling Sports Auctions. Always good seeing board members and long-time friends at the show. It’s always one of the highlights.
Looking forward to the 2019 National in Chicago. Hope to see more board members there next year! Below is an album with photos from the National. Some were just pilfered from other’s posts and some I took. I know some were Todd Riley’s that are on the forum. There are a number of other National accounts that are very detailed and more specific to nonsports as well. Check them out!