The sports collectible market experienced a notable downturn in 2023, according to a report by Altan Insights, a company that monitors sales across various collectible markets. Using data from Card Ladder, Altan Insights observed a downward trend that began about 18 months ago and continued throughout 2023.
According to their analysis, sales for ultra-modern cards, issued from 2009 to the present, plummeted by 34.8% from the previous year. Modern cards, from 1984 to 2008, also saw a decrease in sales, dropping by 30.8%. However, vintage cards fared relatively better than their modern and ultra-modern counterparts, experiencing a decline but not as steep as the others.
Interestingly, in the fourth quarter of 2023, vintage and pre-war cards outperformed modern and ultra-modern cards, widening their advantage in the collectible market for the year, as highlighted in Altan’s report.
The report pointed out that specific segments such as football, soccer, racing, and basketball cards witnessed the most substantial price declines. In football, high-end cards of quarterbacks, both young and veteran, failed to recover their value, with injuries to popular quarterbacks in the latter half of the season exacerbating the situation.
Altan also noted a considerable dip in the top 50 sales at most auction houses from 2022 to 2023. However, the decline was less pronounced in the next tier of sales, suggesting a slightly stronger demand in the mid-range market segment.
Some key findings from Altan Insights’ comprehensive 41-page report on the fourth quarter and the year 2023 include:
– A 40% year-over-year and 27% quarter-over-quarter drop in the number of six-figure auction sales in Q4, marking the lowest total in the past three years.
– In 2023, there were eleven recorded sales of baseball items exceeding $1 million, with eight involving cards or memorabilia of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle spread across five different auction houses.
– In a stark contrast from 2022, where there were twelve seven-figure basketball card sales, 2023 saw none. Altan noted a disappearance in the demand for modern patch cards at high price points, which did not return throughout the year.
– The list of top-selling cards of currently active basketball players on eBay in the last four months of 2023 featured LeBron James, Victor Wembanyama, Steph Curry, Luka Doncic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
– The market for LeBron James and Steph Curry cards across all platforms dipped by over 40% last year, whereas Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant cards remained relatively stable.
– Notably, Jordan cards from the late 1990s accounted for five of the top ten Jordan card sales in the fourth quarter, including three of the top five.
While the market for game-worn and game-used memorabilia showed only modest growth from the previous year, the top 25 and top 50 sales in this category in 2023 were more than double the levels achieved in 2021.
The comprehensive report by Altan Insights provides a detailed picture of the shifting dynamics in the sports collectible market. It highlights the fluctuations in different segments and the evolving interests of collectors and investors in this domain.