The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Unusual Pujols rookie card hoard at auction

“Buy low and sell high,” goes the time-tested maxim.

One very unique baseball card collector may be doing just that, perhaps hoping to cash in on the attention of St. Louis Cardinals World Championship and the free agent bid of their future Hall of Fame first baseman Albert Pujols.

Heritage Auction is touting “the greatest collection of Albert Pujols rookie cards ever assembled.” Not being into card collecting myself, I can’t speak for the greatness of it, but it surely is unusual.

This unidentified collector apparently snapped up every copy of Pujols 2001 Donruss Elite rookie card he could get his hands on. Only 1,000 were ever printed and this person has acquired 315 of them, including ten autographed cards. Heritage is touting the value of this collection at over $100,000.

Curious about the situation, I contacted an expert in the field. Don Drooker is a long time collector of sports cards and memorabilia and writes about them nationally for examiner.com.

After I sent him the auction description, Don was kind enough to answer a series of related questions from an old friend. Special thanks to him for doing so.

BW: How unique is this set of Pujols rookie cards?

DD: This is certainly an unusual collection. I am not sure I’ve ever seen someone trying to corner the market on an individual card.

BW: Are the cards themselves rare?

DD: The market always determines the price and even though this collector owns over 30% of the print run of this particular card, examples of the card still sell on the secondary market. The book price in the monthly Beckett price guide is currently a range of $275-$400 and one sold last week on eBay for $382.

BW: $100,000 seems like a lot of money. Is that realistic?

DD: The auction house estimate is reasonable. Based on current book values, my ballpark (pun) guess is $115-$120K. With that being said, if a collector pays market value, where is the upside?

BW: There is always risk in collecting. Where do you see it here?

DD: Controlling a large portion of Pujols Rookie Cards is nice in the abstract, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that this particular brand (Donruss Elite) doesn’t have an exclusive on Pujols. There are many other examples of Pujols rookie cards, both regular and autographed, and some have even lower production runs.

Hypothetically, if the buyer was to expect some sort of windfall from owning (and later selling) these cards, what would stop collectors from buying some other brand?

BW: So this is not the most valuable Pujols 2001 card?

DD: No, it is not. The most expensive Pujols Rookie Card is the 2001 Bowman Chrome. Only 500 were made and it is autographed using “refractor” technology. The current book price on this card is $3,000-$4,000.

Bidding for the 315-card lot is being conducted online and closes this Sunday evening, December 4. With over three days to go, the high bid is currently $32,500. As in online auctions from eBay to the most expensive collectibles handled by an auction house, the real excitement may occur in the final minutes.

If you decide to go for it, you won’t be bidding against me, however…

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