• Junk Wax Hero Extra
  • Posts
  • Buying Sports Cards: How to Avoid Falling Victim to Comps From Shill Bidders

Buying Sports Cards: How to Avoid Falling Victim to Comps From Shill Bidders

Can Card Ladder Help?

Sponsored by

Last week my shill bidding story got about 9,000 views. Surely that killer thumbnail had something to do with it. (More on that down below.)

There were some people who missed the point. I wasn’t saying that the two sellers are accused of doing shady things with every card they sell; they’ve sold more than 110,000 cards between them. I received comments from people saying that they’ve bought from those sellers and had no issues. That’s great! I have no doubt that most of their transactions are flawless.

The problem is that there is a very persistent perception out there — and what seems like ample circumstantial evidence — that these two sellers are either engaged in or, to be generous, victims of, a pervasive shill bidding operation.

So how do you avoid using shill-bid comps? It’s not easy! But I learned something new and valuable as a result of this video. My source on this story showed me that his eBay app lets him view more than mine does, so he must not have an iPhone. Let’s start by looking at an eBay sale that I was watching recently.

Now click on the number of bids under the final sale price.

Here you will see the list of bidders, with the winner at the top. (I’ve clipped this screenshot for size.) Click on the winner and you see their bid history:

On the right I’ve highlighted their percent of bid activity with that specific seller. So this bidder has bid on 20 items on eBay, and only 5% of them have been with this seller. This is the only item they’ve ever bid on from this seller.

Were you aware of this feature on eBay? I wasn't!

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Now see if you can spot the shady part of this bidder another source sent to me:

They’ve bid on 536 items, and 100% of them have been with the seller accused of (or victim of) shill bidding.

If you’re buying smaller cards, you probably have less to worry about. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen with smaller cards, but it probably happens less. But if you’re spending a lot on a card, it’s probably best to do research if you’re using comps to determine how much you want to spend.

And if you don’t use comps, congrats! That’s great. Speaking of which, do you know how you know if someone doesn’t use comps? They’ll tell you.

Here’s a great feature suggestion from a viewer:

Some said that Card Ladder will protect you because they only show results that have been paid for. Is that true, though? Blowout Forums folks sure don’t think so. And this screenshot of the same card getting auctions repeatedly immediately after an auction ends would suggest otherwise, as well:

There are a lot of examples like this

I could go on.

Make sure to watch until the end of my video above for my funniest blooper ever!

Keep up with AI

How do you keep up with the insane pace of AI? Join The Rundown — the world’s largest AI newsletter that keeps you up-to-date with everything happening in AI with just a 5-minute read per day.

Joel’s purchase

Subscriber Joel, also of Maine, emailed me about an item on our local Facebook Marketplace. It was the negative of this classic photograph:

From sabr.org

Joel asked me if I thought it was worth the $50 the seller was asking for it. I know virtually nothing about photographs and negatives, but $50 seemed reasonable to me. I did send him this Google search showing mostly results saying there wasn’t much value in them, but at $50 I still thought it was a cool relic.

Joel, who seems pretty resourceful, called Heritage Auctions and asked them. I didn’t even know they provided this service! They told him they absolutely thought it was worth it, and that he should buy it and list it for $500-1,000.

Joel then offered the seller $40 and got it at a discount!

Pretty cool story.

If you have a story like this, feel free to share it with me by replying to this email. I enjoy the big auction stories, but I really like the “regular person” stories more.

YouTube Comment Of The Week

I love a good, thoughtful, well-argued counterpoint to one of my videos:

Upcoming Videos

Chris Sewall and I haven’t done a video together in about 6 months, but Monday morning we should be releasing a new one. (We record it Sunday night, well after this newsletter locks, which is why I say “should.”)

My biggest card purchase ever! Video comes Tuesday or Wednesday. (Card is shown below.)

And yes, another Attic Find Friday is teed up for Friday.

Next weekend I have plans to pick up a collection that’s been offered to me. You bet I’ll have a video out after.

Channel Highlights From the Past Week

You may have noticed that I have some slick new thumbnails. I frequently receive private messages on Instagram from thumbnail artists saying, “Hey your thumbnails stink! You should hire me!” I’ve seriously considered it, but haven’t exactly been blown away by these pitches.

Last week, though, I received that same pitch, except this artist took the initiative to actually send me a free one where he re-did one of my thumbnails. I was blown away and immediately hired him.

I’m not going to pay for every thumbnail, but in some cases it makes sense:

I must be doing something right, since other YouTubers have reached out to ask who’s doing my thumbnails.

Other fun things from last week:

Attic Find Friday lives! (For now.)

My Pickup Of The Week

I am shocked and very proud to show you this days ahead of the video reveal:

The story will come with the video.

Maybe 2% of my viewers are female, and I don’t think the hobby as a whole is drastically higher than that. So this Kayla Norsworthy column on Hobby News Daily is important in that it talks about something frequently missing at card shows that might be starting to improve with this year’s National.

Join the conversation

or to participate.