Interview with Robert Lifson (President of Robert Edward Auctions)
October 1st, 2007
DG Q: What are three things that you consider the strengths of the industry/hobby at this time and why?
RL A: The industry has a lot of strengths. There’s a lot of great things that have happened and are happening. As far as game-used equipment – jerseys and bats – I think this area is a particular bright spot in the collecting landscape. I think the two most positive factors in this area are the MEARS and the Game Used Universe websites and forums. I know that sometimes the two sites don’t see eye to eye on everything, almost like there’s a cold war at times, but maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be: Checks and balances. The fact is that both sites have very similar goals. The valuable services and dedication and scholarly approach to the field by both of these entities is to be applauded. Both of these sites are fantastic and both give collectors access to information that just a few years ago was not accessible, and in many cases didn’t even exist. If that isn’t progress, what is? There has never been a better time to collect game-used items with reference to information available. Which brings me to the third strength of the field that I think is actually directly related to the quality and great value of MEARS and GUU: the collectors are coming back. For a while the problems with authentication were making collectors shy away from bats and uniforms. A lot of factors go into determining values, so I’m not saying that prices on any type of item are going up or down or anything like that. I’m just saying that real collectors are back with a confidence that they never had before, and that they are armed with knowledge that they never had before so that they can make the most intelligent decisions possible without just blindly relying on opinions of others. This is great. There are still plenty of problems out there, but it is now possible for collectors to collect memorabilia and understand what they are buying and not get burned. This is a big change from years past. As far as cards go, I don’t have enough time to write about all the problems in the card industry. But maybe the number one strength of the field, which applies to both cards and memorabilia, is simply that there is a growing awareness about the problems that exist, and that’s really the first step towards progress in addressing any of the issues in the field that need addressing. MEARS and GUU should be very proud. You guys don’t get the credit you deserve. From my perspective, your work is laying down the foundation that will make this field continue to survive and thrive in the future. MEARS and GUU are literally keeping the field from falling apart. I like what Steiner does also, with the new material, making sure that people are getting what they are supposed to be getting, and John Taube and Vince Malta also deserve positive mention as being part of the progress that has occurred with the body of knowledge relating to the authentication bats. I’m sure there are others and I apologize for leaving anyone out. I have also heard that GAI has a very knowledgeable authenticator but I have no personal experience with him, but have heard good things and don’t want to leave him out.