Real and Artificial Scarcity

Scarcity.  Its one of the major engines that fuels the hobby.  I believe there are two types of scarcity when it comes to collecting sports cards: real and artificial.  

Real scarcity is when the amount of an item is limited because of a problem with production, which yields lower amounts of a certain card, or perhaps that card wasn’t thought of being collectible at the time it was produced.  Real scarcity can be seen with vintage cards, since many of them were produced during a time when sports cards weren’t considered to be worth anything.  Heck, there wasn’t even much of a market for sports collectibles at the time, not unless you actually owned a piece of memorabilia from a prominent player of the past that had historical significance and belonged in a Hall of Fame.  

Artificial scarcity is where a manufacturer purposely creates a lower number of a certain card or product.  This type of scarcity can be seen throughout the modern day hobby, and is considered one of the best and worst events to take place.  Many collectors like it because they know how many of a specific card was produced.  On the flip side, there are some collectors that find artificial scarcity to be confusing with all the multi-tiered refractors and parallels.  One of the earliest forms of artificial scarcity would be the Napoleon Lajoie 1933 Goudey #106 baseball card.  The Goudey Gum, Co purposely left that card out of the set to drive up their sales, and then released the Lajoie a year later as a mail-in redemption.  

As long as there are sports cards, scarcity will play an important roll in the hobby, almost as important as the players themselves.