For big-ticket cards, auction houses are becoming an increasingly popular way to sell. At CardlLines, we’re going to be looking into different auction houses to offer an in-depth review of what they sell, how they operate, what customers say, and more. We call the series, Auction Action. We will start this series with our Heritage Auctions review.
Yes, most of us sell our cards on eBay. But as we will see, that is not always the best option. To start, we’ll look at Heritage Auctions, which was established in 1976. Since then, the auction house has grown to become one of the most popular and trusted houses around.
Heritage Auctions specializes in selling “U.S. & World Coins, Rare Currency, Fine & Decorative Art, American Art, Illustration Art, Vintage Comic Books, Entertainment & Music Memorabilia,” and more. Recently, a large part of that “more” has been sports cards.
The company has seen so much growth in sports that the sports cards and memorabilia section is one of their most popular. To manage the development of the popular section, Heritage has also appointed a Director of Sports Auctions.
When it comes to sports, here’s what they sell, straight from the source:
Heritage Auctions has a catalog for each of its major auction categories. For example, for “Sports Collectibles,” an annual subscription will cost $105, or you can buy the first catalog for $50 and additional ones for $25.
Sports auctions happen at a reasonably high frequency with Heritage Auctions. Currently, there is an ongoing Showcase Sports Auction that lasts until July 26th with 526 listings.
In addition to that, there is a PSA Set Registry Auction that begins July 15th and features PSA-graded cards.
More sports auctions are around the corner, too. While they don’t have concrete themes yet, they have start dates stretching from late July 2021 through February 2022.
This wouldn’t be a Heritage Auctions review without an overview of fees. The buyer fees are calculated based on the final sell price of the auction. Fees range from 10% to 3%, depending on the overall value. There are also fees for sellers.
Finally, unlike eBay, they are very selective. You can only have an auction with Heritage if their team approves your item–and your auction has to sell for over a million dollars to qualify for the 3% mark.
For the Sports Collectibles, the buyer’s premium is 20%. However, the premium is subject to a minimum of $14 per lot. So keep that in mind when buying on the site.
What does that mean? If you buy a 100$ card, you will end up paying 120$. Without shipping. So keep that in mind.
Bidding on an auction that catches your eye is straightforward. If you have an eBay account, this will feel pretty familiar. Here’s their process:
Lots close upon the expiration of the online timer, but Heritage is also aware of a “delay that occurs between the auction floor and your computer.” Because of this, they will “will accept your bid up to three seconds after the time we close the lot (even if this means reopening the lot on the auction floor).”
If you’re bidding on your computer, the lot will close, and you’ll see a message in green indicating you won if that’s the case.
Payment is a simple process (unless you’re a PayPal kind of person).
As posted in their Payment and Shipping Policy, “Payment may be made via MasterCard, Visa, eCheck, Cashier’s Check, Money Order, Personal Check, or Bank Wire. Delivery must be to the billing address of the credit cardholder. New clients using a credit card may be asked to provide industry references.”
There’s only one posted option for shipping.
Auctions are shipped for a base fee, and then an additional shipping fee is added. Both are based on the final price of the items won. So, for example, if you won a $2,000 trading card, it would ship for a $23 base fee plus a $6.43 shipping cost.
Heritage Auctions has sold some massive sports cards and memorabilia pieces. Their highest-priced auction of all time was a PSA 9 Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps card, which sold for $2,880,000.
Here are a few more other cards and memorabilia pieces they’ve sold:
According to their 129 reviews on Yelp, Heritage carries an average 4 out of 5 stars rating. The rating accounts for the experiences of both buyers and sellers.
Throughout these reviews, most of the praises have to deal with Heritage’s expertise in process, from appraisal to format, subject-area specialization experts, and a smooth auction process. Both sellers and buyers alike (largely) state the fees are fair, and the buyer’s premium is one of the best on the market.
Of the complaints, most of the one-star reviewers complain of the same thing: Heritage Auction deciding not to auction an item that the buyer believes to be valuable.
If you’re a buyer looking to pick up sports memorabilia from an auction house, Heritage could be a great place to start. They’re established, trusted, and seem to be fairly priced in what they do.
If you should use them to sell, however, is a different matter. First, remember that Heritage–unlike eBay–has to approve every single sports card auction, so they only sell big-ticket cards. So don’t be offended if you request a free appraisal and they decide they are not interested in selling your card or lot. Come back as we follow up our Heritage Auctions review with further installments of our Auction Action series.
Heritage Auctions aren’t the only option for sports card auctions. Here are some of the bigger Auction Houses: