By Dongwoon Lee, Beckett
Many Asians of my generation would pick two MJ’s as their favorite American Icons. Michael Jackson of Billie Jean and Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls. When someone would ask: “How much do you know about American culture?” The answer was normally about MJ and MJ. I was a middle student 20 years ago, and there were about 5 sport card shops within a walking distance. I probably had more talks with card shop owner
s than I had with my parents. On weekends, my friends and I packed our bags with cards and went to tour card shops in another district and sometimes even other cities. Mostly, we wanted to get a chance at Grant Hill’s RC and then later, Kobe’s RC. We were surprised at 1996 SPx basketball with only one card per pack! Accordingly, the Beckett Korean edition was published and we called the magazine an encyclopedia. We were in collector’s heaven in Korea.
Let’s take a look at Japan. People say Japan is a country of enthusiasts for animation, fashion, video games, and, yes, of course, baseball along with other popular sports such as soccer, sumo and so on. It is difficult to explain the Japanese fervor for baseball in a word, but one could venture to guess based on the amazing display of memorabilia at the Hall of Fame in Tokyo stadium.
How about in other Asian countries? In short, it seems that everybody loves Michael Jordan and the NBA. As evidenced when Yao Ming came to the NBA, China has an incredible passion for NBA trading cards that is the strongest of all the Asian countries. Even with Yao now out of the game, interest in the NBA continues to grow.
Collecting trading cards in Asia
If you are in the U.S. or Canada and you sell your cards on eBay frequently, you may have shipped out to Asian or European countries. At least, even though you marked as ‘U.S. shipping only’ you would get an inquiry “Can you ship to Korea?” Since then, Asian collectors have started to use logistics agencies based in U.S. The agency provides addresses to each member after signing in and American sellers can ship to the agency’s address in the U.S. The agency gathers cards and all items, which are cheaper than in Asian countries, such as nutritional supplements and sometimes even televisions! Nowadays, we can receive items from U.S. with very low shipping fee due to service of the logistics agency. Have you shipped to a cryptic address such as ‘LA#71385628’? That might be an address of the agency.
Asians usually rely on eBay for trading and selling. There are numerous famous Asian sellers on eBay. They indicate that Americans win approximately 50% of the time, so the cards return to the U.S. where they were born. Therefore, the flow of trading cards is going both ways.
In these days, some collectors keep their passion as pure collectors, meanwhile some other ones love to invest in a particular player or set. Trading cards may be termed bearer securities. The circle of collectors in each country is quite small and all dealers/collectors are concerned about their reputation. Ways to buy/sell/trade have been always issues and collectors were united to find and ban swindlers. However, this does not mean it is 100% safe for online dealings. A variation on scams may exist in every hobbies and that is reason why collectors pay over 10% of sold price as an eBay fee.
Grading has become very popular in Asia and Europe, as well. We, Beckett, receive thousands cards outside of North America monthly. Koreans have an on-going inside joke about submitting cards for grading to be similar to investing in studying abroad. If the card gets BGS 10 Pristine, then they say “Summa Cum Laude!” A BGS 9.5 is normally called “Scholarship” while a BGS 6 or 7 would be “Flunked Out.” “Hey, Bowman Gold, you were born in America, moved here, and then you went study overseas to the country where you were born, so why were you expelled from school?” In all honesty though, the opportunity to double or triple the value of and to protect submitted cards is worth the studying abroad investment when the cards do make it back safely.
Collecting cards should be an exciting hobby from opening a pack and pulling something you only dreamed of getting to understanding the value and protecting the asset for the long-term. We would like to help all international collectors to enjoy the hobby. We are here to help you along the way, so please reach out and let us know how we can help. Our goal is to be Global Ambassadors to collecting, no matter where you are from. Thank you for reading and we look forward to serving you. Have fun and keep collecting.