Top vintage gifts for the holidays

It’s been a tough year financially for a lot of hobbyists, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be lean times under the Christmas tree. And as we all know, when it comes to eBay, the thrill of chasing bargains can be almost as fun as watching the person open his or her present on Dec. 25.

Here are five great ways to stretch your gift-giving dollar on eBay:

Check out sets: A tried-and-true favorite is buying a set from the recipient’s birth year, a sealed factory set if you can get it. While leaving it sealed might seem a boring thing for Christmas, salting away factory sets can yield huge dividends in future decades. At the $100 price point there’s a great selection: 1975 Topps Football, 1975-76 O-Pee-Chee Hockey, 1974 Topps Baseball, 1993 Upper Deck Baseball, 2009 Topps Chrome Football master set, 1987-88 Fleer Basketball. If that’s too rich for your blood, many sets (and subsets such as team sets, starter sets, or insert sets) go for less.

Autographs never disappoint: Pick a price range to search that fits your budget, for example $10 to $50. In that space you’ll find crowd-pleasers like a Carl Yastrzemski 2008 Topps Triple Threads Autograph, a Tony Romo signed football, or even a 2006-07 dual-signed Marc-Andre Fleury & Jordan Staal Be A Player Between the Pipes. Just browse, and lock into your loved one’s favorite team or player.

Go for graded, second-year cards:  Who’s your giftee’s favorite superstar? Here are some examples: 1987-88 Michael Jordan, PSA 9, $51; 2002 Bowman Chrome Refractor Albert Pujols, $6.94; 1995 Finest Refractor Derek Jeter, $57; 1959 Topps Jimmy Brown, PSA 7, $76.89.

Try football, basketball, and hockey: Baseball cards are the No. 1 collected sport.  The next three pack a lot of punch for the bargain-hunter’s dollar, as you can probably see from the examples above.

Flip on the Wayback Machine: It’s easy to find baseball card bargains from the pre-WWII era – loaded with classic designs beloved by collectors – by using eBay’s “Wildcard” search. Say the person for whom you’re buying is a Yankees fan. Type “193* Yankees” in the search column and boom. All the cards from the 1930s pop up. Maybe a 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth is out of your price range, but what about a 1933 Goudey Danny MacFayden ($12.51), a 1935 R311 team photo ($18), or a 1934–36 Diamond Star Red Rolfe, graded BVG 7 ($24.50)? Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of the set before, it only takes one card to ignite a lifetime passion for collecting a particular set.

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