Hobby Musings: Sheldon seeing more vintage break interest after big 2018 – A big highlight of the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention was the discovery of a high-grade 1955 Bowman Mickey Mantle card. Pulled pack fresh, the card caused quite a stir and was reported on by multiple news outlets. Running that breaking was Leighton Sheldon with Vintage Breaks. What was already an interesting concept has new become a hotbed of interest in the hobby thanks to that card. To find out more about the business of vintage breaking, as well as how the discovery of the Mantle has changed things in the category, I had the chance to catch up with Mr. Sheldon. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: Leighton, I feel like we have to start with the 1955 Bowman pack break at the National that resulted in a Mickey Mantle card being pulled. Looking back on it a few months after the pull, how do you reflect on it now?
LS: It was an amazing experience to be a part of and what I think about it now I still get goosebumps!
KS: I was standing off the side when you guys pulled it. The absolute roar of excitement from a grown group of men was a little amusing, though understandable from a hobby standpoint. That being said, where would you rate that moment in your career in the sports memorabilia industry?
LS: Who ever thought we’d be watching people play video games? Point being is that I’m an entrepreneur and a collector and to be able to combine the two into something I love is very rewarding.
KS: Again, looking at it a few months later, how would you say that pull has affected the vintage pack/box breaking industry for your company and the category as a whole?
LS: Because of the story by Darren Rovell (who was at ESPN at the time) and then it getting picked up by several national news outlets, it caused our business to acquire lots of new customers and spread the word more easily and quickly about vintage breaking, which is still a relatively new concept.
KS: How would you categorize interest in that category before you pulled the Mantle?
LS: We were happy with our growth in 2018, but the interest in the category picked up substantially afterwards.
KS: How do you feel vintage breaking is different from modern product breaking?
LS: Our styles are different and of course the product. For us, we (customers included) get to feel like kids again opening up packs and boxes from our youth. In some cases, packs we may have never opened like 1955 Bowman. There’s a real thrill going through a vintage pack and looking for really nice high graded cards where every card matters! That’s just not the case with modern cards/breaking.
KS: Packs like that 1955 Bowman aren’t exactly easy to come by. How do you go about acquiring them?
LS: Very carefully 🙂 From collectors, dealers, auction houses, estate finds, word of mouth, etc.
KS: Is authenticity ever an issue with the items you acquire for the breaks?
LS: You must be careful in the unopened market and understand how to know if a pack or box has been tampered with. If you are not sure, pass on acquiring that item.
KS: Which sport tends to be the most popular with the vintage breaks?
LS: Baseball is number one probably followed by basketball, then hockey, then football, but they are all great. Of course we open some great non-sports like Batman, GPK 1st series, Civil War News, etc.
KS: Is there any particular year/sport of product that you’ve noticed people want more than others?
LS: The older and more rare the better.
KS: What would you say is the most impressive item you’ve offered for a break?
LS: The 1955 Bowman Baseball Cello Pack and the 1986 Fleer Basketball wax box.
KS: Do you have a sealed pack/box that you haven’t been able to offer for a break that you are hoping to eventually be able to do?
LS: 1952 Topps High # pack (possible Mickey Mantle!) or a tobacco pack…oh wait that’s coming soon. (More details to come)
KS: Condition with cards can be everything. It has to be nerve-racking for the people doing the breaking with these rare vintage gems where a small nick or bent corner can make a significant difference in price. How do you go about getting the card from pack to consumer as pristinely as possible?
LS: Put them in card saver 1’s as soon we open the packs. Then Robert, our head of shipping who has been with us for over 10 years (he’s JustCollect’s longest-tenured employee!), is in charge of shipping for Vintage Breaks as well, and he ensures everyone’s package is sent safely and securely.
KS: Looking ahead, what do you think is the future of vintage pack and box breaking?
LS: That it should be on a TV and have a weekly show…would be great for the hobby.
KS: Does it concern you at all that the limited supply could dry up sooner rather than later?
LS: Yes, but we do set breaks, HIT randoms, Fun bags, and have other SKUs in the works besides vintage pack breaks.
KS: A lot is made that modern trading cards don’t hold value. With that in mind, it seems like some more-recent cardboard has been in demand sealed. 2011 Topps Update Baseball is one that comes to mind. Of all the products released after 2000, which ones are you seeing significant interest in and why?
LS: 2009 Bowman Draft boxes because you can Mike Trout’s best rookie in that product and boxes are tough to find. He’s probably the best player of the past 25 years, maybe more!
To keep up to date with everything going on over at Vintage Breaks, follow them on Twitter @vintage_breaks.
For more Hobby Musings from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.
Check out the Vintage Breaks 1955 Bowman Pack Break Video from the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention below.
Hobby Musings: Sheldon seeing more vintage break interest after big 2018
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