Conlon died this past summer, and Rob Lifson of REA was contacted by the family to handle the liquidation of Conlon’s collection. Having such a startling amount of one item – even one as highly coveted as unopened cases of the second-best set of the decade of the 1970s (pure opinion, obviously; 1972 is just way too cool) – poses unique challenges for an auctioneer.
“There’s no perfect way to do it,” Lifson said in a phone interview on Monday. “I think they will do well,” he added, though he conceded that conventional wisdom suggests the sheer volume could work to suppress prices, at least in theory.
But the sale is hardly theoretical. “Uncertainty (about quantity) can be a drag on the marketplace,” he continued. “In the past, nobody knew how many cases he had. There were people who thought he had hundreds of cases, and now it’s a known, finite amount.”
And Conlon probably did have hundreds of cases at one time, Lifson noted, adding that there are other elements at work that could push bidding upward. “We will likely never again see 26 cases of an important vintage issue available at one time like this again. People will look at it as a unique opportunity. This is the time to buy them.”
The plan, tentative though it may be, is to sell the 12 sealed cases in three lots: six cases, five cases and one single case. The other 14 cases where the case seal has been broken, will be sold in seven lots of two cases each.
Lifson said they didn’t really think that breaking up a case to offer individual boxes was the thing to do. “We thought we should keep the cases intact, because that’s the way he kept them; these are probably the only surviving cases out there, and there are individual boxes around already in collectors’ hands (that all probably came from Charlie anyway). We think that dealers or collector/investors will probably break up some of the cases, and they will really be the buyers of these cases due to the quantity, so we also did not want to undermine their interest, which we think will be great.”
And while Lifson was talking to me, he was looking at a PSA 10 specimen of George Brett’s 1975 Topps Mini card. It’s hardly a surprise that Conlon would have been able to winnow through so many cases and come away with such a stunner.
And just for good measure, Conlon also had 21/2 cases of Topps Minis Cellos, which will be sold as a single lot in the same auction.
Now that we’ve discussed what will be offered …. and how it will likely be offered … it’s only a short additional step to tell you who should be doing the bidding. That kind of all-encompassing hobby assistance can only be found at this location, meaning I’ll be offering those hints on the morrow.
Remember, vote early and vote often!