UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 05/22/17 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   05/23/17 - Bob Brenner...   05/24/17 - Cabin Fever Auctions...   05/24/17 - Lambrecht Auction, Inc....   05/24/17 - Embassy Auctions International...   05/25/17 - Barry S. Slosberg, Inc....   05/25/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   05/25/17 - Bodnars Auction Sales...   05/23-25/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   05/25/17 - Richard Opfer Auctioneering, Inc....   05/26/17 - Hartzell's Auction Gallery, Inc....   05/26/17 - Morphy Auctions Las Vegas...   05/27/17 - United Auctions & Antiques...   05/27/17 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   05/27/17 - Kimberly Hemingway...   05/27/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   05/27/17 - Smith Auction Company...   05/27/17 - Roan Inc. Auctioneers & Appraisers...   05/27-28/17 - Morphy Auctions Las Vegas...   05/29/17 - Wilson's Auction Sales, Inc....   05/29/17 - Boltz Auction Company...   05/27 & 05/29/17 - Mark Ferry Auctioneers, Inc....   05/30/17 - Alderfer's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   05/30/17 - The Renaissance Auction Group...   06/01/17 - Alderfer's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/02/17 - Allen & Marshall Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/02/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/03/17 - Horst Auctioneers...   06/03/17 - Lori Biechy Auctions...   06/03/17 - Dean R. Arner...   06/03/17 - J.G. Cochran Auctioneers & Associates Ltd...   06/03/17 - Ralph Russum Sr & JR Russum...   06/03/17 - Blums...   06/02-03/17 - Bertoia Auctions...   06/03/17 - Maurer's Auctions...   06/03/17 - Gilbert & Gilbert Auctioneers, Inc....   06/03/17 - Kerry Pae & Ryan Groff...   06/04/17 - Forsythe's Auction...   06/06/17 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/10/17 - Jessica Shaub Meyer...   06/09-10/17 - Morphy Auctions...   06/10/17 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/28/17 - Allen & Marshall Auctioneers & Appraisers...   
  • 05/22/17 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   05/23/17 - Bob Brenner...   05/24/17 - Cabin Fever Auctions...   05/24/17 - Lambrecht Auction, Inc....   05/24/17 - Embassy Auctions International...   05/25/17 - Barry S. Slosberg, Inc....   05/25/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   05/25/17 - Bodnars Auction Sales...   05/23-25/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   05/25/17 - Richard Opfer Auctioneering, Inc....   05/26/17 - Hartzell's Auction Gallery, Inc....   05/26/17 - Morphy Auctions Las Vegas...   05/27/17 - United Auctions & Antiques...   05/27/17 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   05/27/17 - Kimberly Hemingway...   05/27/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   05/27/17 - Smith Auction Company...   05/27/17 - Roan Inc. Auctioneers & Appraisers...   05/27-28/17 - Morphy Auctions Las Vegas...   05/29/17 - Wilson's Auction Sales, Inc....   05/29/17 - Boltz Auction Company...   05/27 & 05/29/17 - Mark Ferry Auctioneers, Inc....   05/30/17 - Alderfer's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   05/30/17 - The Renaissance Auction Group...   06/01/17 - Alderfer's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/02/17 - Allen & Marshall Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/02/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/03/17 - Horst Auctioneers...   06/03/17 - Lori Biechy Auctions...   06/03/17 - Dean R. Arner...   06/03/17 - J.G. Cochran Auctioneers & Associates Ltd...   06/03/17 - Ralph Russum Sr & JR Russum...   06/03/17 - Blums...   06/02-03/17 - Bertoia Auctions...   06/03/17 - Maurer's Auctions...   06/03/17 - Gilbert & Gilbert Auctioneers, Inc....   06/03/17 - Kerry Pae & Ryan Groff...   06/04/17 - Forsythe's Auction...   06/06/17 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/10/17 - Jessica Shaub Meyer...   06/09-10/17 - Morphy Auctions...   06/10/17 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/28/17 - Allen & Marshall Auctioneers & Appraisers...   
  • 05/22/17 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   05/23/17 - Bob Brenner...   05/24/17 - Cabin Fever Auctions...   05/24/17 - Lambrecht Auction, Inc....   05/24/17 - Embassy Auctions International...   05/25/17 - Barry S. Slosberg, Inc....   05/25/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   05/25/17 - Bodnars Auction Sales...   05/23-25/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   05/25/17 - Richard Opfer Auctioneering, Inc....   05/26/17 - Hartzell's Auction Gallery, Inc....   05/26/17 - Morphy Auctions Las Vegas...   05/27/17 - United Auctions & Antiques...   05/27/17 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   05/27/17 - Kimberly Hemingway...   05/27/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   05/27/17 - Smith Auction Company...   05/27/17 - Roan Inc. Auctioneers & Appraisers...   05/27-28/17 - Morphy Auctions Las Vegas...   05/29/17 - Wilson's Auction Sales, Inc....   05/29/17 - Boltz Auction Company...   05/27 & 05/29/17 - Mark Ferry Auctioneers, Inc....   05/30/17 - Alderfer's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   05/30/17 - The Renaissance Auction Group...   06/01/17 - Alderfer's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/02/17 - Allen & Marshall Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/02/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   06/03/17 - Horst Auctioneers...   06/03/17 - Lori Biechy Auctions...   06/03/17 - Dean R. Arner...   06/03/17 - J.G. Cochran Auctioneers & Associates Ltd...   06/03/17 - Ralph Russum Sr & JR Russum...   06/03/17 - Blums...   06/02-03/17 - Bertoia Auctions...   06/03/17 - Maurer's Auctions...   06/03/17 - Gilbert & Gilbert Auctioneers, Inc....   06/03/17 - Kerry Pae & Ryan Groff...   06/04/17 - Forsythe's Auction...   06/06/17 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/10/17 - Jessica Shaub Meyer...   06/09-10/17 - Morphy Auctions...   06/10/17 - Conestoga Auction a Division of Hess Auction...   06/28/17 - Allen & Marshall Auctioneers & Appraisers...   
Speculation Nation: An Inside Look At The High Stakes World Of MTG Finance

May 18, 2017

Speculation Nation: An Inside Look At The High Stakes World Of MTG Finance

By Shawn Surmick

When mathematician Richard Garfield created his fantasy-based collectible card game known as “Magic: The Gathering” (abbreviated as MTG or just “Magic”) in 1993, few could have predicted just how much of a massive success it would become. Almost 25 years later, the game is still relevant and is now published by Wizards of the Coast, which is one of the most profitable divisions of the toy and gaming goliath known as Hasbro.
Today, it is not uncommon to see vintage, out-of-print MTG cards selling for four to five figures. The game’s creators were good at printing just the right amount of sought-after cards and placing them in blind sealed booster packs to be discovered by eager enthusiasts and speculators. Since most of the game’s expansion sets have a limited print run that lasts anywhere from one to three years, a lot of these cards can increase and decrease in price based on how sought after they became on the highly volatile secondary market. This has caused some enthusiasts like myself to credit the game with creating just the perfect mix of collecting, gaming, and mass speculation. A robust and complex secondary marketplace almost as diverse as Wall Street has emerged. It’s a place where long-term investing is met with short-term speculation, and large amounts of money are won or lost almost daily.
Ironically, the robust secondary market wasn’t always so robust. When “Magic” first premiered in 1993, few could have predicted the massive success that would surround it. This caused the game’s initial creator to under-print a lot of today’s most highly sought-after cards. Less than two years after the game’s release, it was clear that something had to be done to ensure more product was readily available. The company made the disastrous decision to create an expansion set called “Chronicles” that contained nothing but the reprinting of hard-to-find cards. This sent the fragile secondary market into a tailspin, and the game’s creator was stuck apologizing for the misstep. This single event led to the greatest and most controversial creation in the history of any collectible card game. Known as the reserved list, this highly publicized list contains hundreds of cards that the game’s creator has vowed to never print again. The company backed this pledge with a legal guarantee that is still in effect today. As a result, prices for some of the most highly coveted cards on the reserved list continue to rise each and every year. One such example, a sought-after “Black Lotus” from the incredibly rare first edition of “Magic” known as the Alpha series, graded and certified in near mint condition, has been confirmed as being sold for close to $50,000.
Unfortunately for new investors, speculating in modern-era sets and cards is something of a crapshoot. Because the reserved list applies only to certain vintage cards, modern-day releases can be subsequently reprinted at will. This has caused investing in modern-era cards to be much riskier. The game’s creators have also massively increased the game’s print run, so the rarest cards printed today are anything but rare. Still, this hasn’t stopped the average speculator who can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on a graded and highly sought-after vintage card from trying their hand at the modern-era world of MTG Finance. Just log on to any of the many websites catering to this kind of speculation, and you are bound to get massive amounts of varying good and bad advice--from hoarding sealed product to simply buying up all low-priced cards in a set and hoping for a massive price increase as new play mechanics are discovered that increase demand. There is no shortage of advice, and an internet search of the terms “MTG finance” will reveal just how large this secret world truly is.
New expansion sets for “Magic” are released several times a year. Large gaming stores that cater to the secondary market order thousands of booster boxes of the latest set and open them within hours of their release to ensure they have an ample supply of cards to sell to both players and speculators alike. Specialty created websites and YouTube channels track the demand and price movement of each highly sought-after card. Due to the game’s complexity that ensures all previous sets can be played with one another, as new play mechanics are discovered, some previously “worthless” cards end up spiking in price on the highly volatile secondary market. It is these price spikes that have served speculators who follow the game over the long-term very well.
Sadly, due to the over printing and questionable management of the game at present time, Wizards of the Coast has come under heavy criticism from fans and investors alike that they are only interested in short-term gains at the expense of the long-term value of the brand. Collectors holding sealed, unopened product based on recently released sets have the most to lose, as due to heavy print runs most sets are no longer in demand after being discontinued. This has created a wave of resentment toward the game’s creators and has also, interestingly enough, caused prices for vintage product to increase exponentially as investors look for more sound investments to tie up cash.
As of this writing, “Magic” has appeared to enter a period of weakness not unlike what was encountered just ten years ago. These periods of weakness are actually good for the game as a whole as they allow both enthusiasts and the game’s creators to assess the long-term validity of the MTG market and see what has been working and what has not. Still, after almost 25 years of being on the market, “Magic: The Gathering” is one collectible whose time has come. And, it’s time for serious auction houses and well-versed collectors to start noticing the potential of collectibles made in the 1990s.



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