Pet Peeves of Collectors

The card collecting community was buzzing on Twitter this weekend. After an initial article from Beckett on the dreaded eBay “1-of-1,” collectors took to social media to vent their other pet peeves when it comes to the eBay experience. In this article we offer a list our top three annoyances and why people should stop committing these collecting crimes.

The 1-of-1

If you’re unfamiliar with the irksome 1-of-1 listing on eBay, Beckett’s hobby editor, Ryan Cracknell, provided a spot-on definition of the term in his recent article on the subject:

If you’ve never heard the term before, consider yourself lucky. It’s used at an alarming rate on the site to describe a card that has something the seller considers unique. That might be a serial number that’s the first in the run, the last one or some sort of patch.

But here’s the thing, anything can be an eBay 1-of-1. No criteria exists. It’s all just smoke and mirrors to make something seem better than it actually is.

Because there is no criteria for what is considered 1/1 on eBay, there are thousands of listings that include 1-of-1 in the item name. Unfortunately, beginning collectors can fall victim to buying these cards thinking they’re worth something extra valuable. Not only is this false advertising, as some collectors lamented on Twitter, but it frustrates collectors who are trying to quickly shop for cards on eBay and have to sift out this “junk.” In fact, we analyzed our search data and found that less than 1% of all Mavin users search specifically for “1/1” cards. The proof is in the numbers: it’s time to change up the 1/1 game.

That is not to say that 1-of-1 cards don’t exist or worthless. Actually, some collectors are willing to pay more for certain “1-of-1” cards. It can be an added bonus to have the same serial number as the player’s jersey or have the first/last card stamped in a large print run. Because of this, we suggest eBay sellers refine their 1-of-1 listing instead of eliminating them altogether.

The best option came from the author of the Beckett article who tweeted that sellers should specify the serial number. Instead of 1-of-1, list the card as “54/100” so that collectors can easily see the number without having to click-through to find out what exactly makes this card “1-of-1.” Tony L., one of our guest bloggers, added that if sellers want to be more specific, they can suggest what makes that serial number special (e.g. jersey number).

Take it from the online collecting community: listing a card as 1-of-1 is a deceptive marketing technique that is more likely to annoy a potential buyer than to reel them in. If the serial number on the card really is prized, then sellers should be more specific as to why that number might be more valuable by specifying the serial number and potential significance.


We’ve covered this in a past blog about selling on eBay, but unfortunately we still see it all too often when we’re shopping for cards. Adding buzzwords like “ULTRA RARE” and “HARD TO FIND” in all capital letters is a huge pet peeve for collectors and usually is a patently false claim that is meant to trick novice collectors. Shopping on eBay is already a challenging user experience, but when sellers list items with non-sensical terms in all caps, it becomes incredibly painful.

On eBay right now, the search term “rare” shows up for more than a hundred thousand cards. Unfortunately, this obviously means the term “rare” has become devalued and is essentially worthless due to its overuse. And this search term isn’t doing sellers any favors: we looked at Mavin search queries over the last three months and found that only 72 users have ever used the search term “rare” when using our price guide.

This pet peeve also applies to sellers using all capital letters or adding an absurd amount of asterisks or dollar signs to try and make their listing stand out. Not only does this make your listing look amateur-ish, it is more likely to annoy a savvy collector who is trying to sift through hundreds of search results only to be distracted by extra, worthless text.

Again, we encourage eBay sellers to use best practices when they’re listing their cards. Not only is this a more genuine way of selling cards, it makes the shopper’s experience easier. Unless there is some verifiable reason your card is “ultra rare” or even “rare,” please stop adding it to your listing to try and make it stand out. And please, please, please don’t insert any awful symbols into your listing to try and make it “eye-catching.”

eBay Fees

This pet peeve has less to do with selling habits than it does with the actual task of selling. Some Twitter users speculated that eBay will never go out of their way to filter out “1/1” or “ULTRA RARE” listings because they might sell for slightly more money. This is because eBay makes more money when a card has a higher value. Which brings us to our last (but definitely not least) pet peeve: eBay fees.

If you’re unfamiliar with selling on eBay, allow us to give you a breakdown of the different fees that they charge sellers. First, there is the insertion fee. From eBay’s website:

When you list an item on eBay, you may be charged a listing (or insertion) fee. If applicable, you’re charged one insertion fee per listing, per category, regardless of the quantity of items. You will receive one insertion fee credit for each auction-style listing for which you paid an insertion fee if that listed item sells.

This insertion fee does not alway apply. In fact, eBay gives sellers 50 free listings per calendar month. After that, they charge you 30 cents per listing. For collectors that are trying to make a living selling cards, that number can quickly add up. But eBay doesn’t just stop at listing fees. They also charge a “final value fee.” They define this as:

If the item sells, you’re charged a final value fee. Final value fees are calculated based on the total amount of the sale and are charged per item. The total amount of the sale is the final price of the item, shipping charges, and any other amounts you may charge the buyer. Sales tax is not included.

The standard final value fee is 10% of the total amount of the sale. However, eBay puts a maximum of $750 on this fee which unless you’re selling some highly coveted rookie card, you’re unlikely to reach that cap.

And those are just their two most basic fees. They charge all sorts of premiums for different add-ons and features you might want to add to your listing (e.g. bold font or multiple-category listing). All of this to say, eBay makes a killing off of selling fees. Unfortunately, these costs are a high barrier for many hobbyists looking to make a profit off their collection.

Even though eBay’s fees are a pain for sellers, the site remains one of the easiest and most accessible ways to sell cards. As one of our Twitter followers pointed out, it is a give and take: eBay provides the biggest pool of potential buyers and can charge a premium because of this. This also means that they’re going to keep “1-of-1” and ULTRA RARE in the listings, despite collector’s frustrations, because charging a $10 premium on a card means an extra $1 for them.

The online collecting community is always a great place to participate in smart conversation about the hobby. We encourage you to follow us and our friends on Twitter so you too can join in on the fun next time. Let us know some of your collecting pet peeves in the comments below. We may even feature it in a follow up article!

3 thoughts on “Pet Peeves of Collectors”

  1. Great article, Alex.

    I will give you one inside tip that can actually lead to saving some money on eBay: do searches for misspellings of a player’s name. For instance, I have seen Robin Yount’s name as “Young”, “Yont”, and “Youtn”. Because people usually spell their searches correctly, this can mean that an auction gets overlooked and leads to a far lower selling price.

    Another way to save is when a seller puts the wrong team down in the title or in the listing for the player or fails to list the team. Many of us team collectors search for our team, but I have found a number of Milwaukee Braves cards listed as Brewers and vice versa. That, too, can mean a lower buy price for a buyer and less money for the seller.

    So, maybe my advice is this: if you’re a buyer, learn the common misspellings. If you’re a seller, make sure you’re spelling everything correctly!

  2. These are great tips. I’m very new at this. I’ve bought a few, but never sold a few. Are unopened card packs more valuable or not?

    1. Hi Tammy. Depending on the age of the card pack, you may be able to get more money for an unopened one. Try searching for the pack name, year, and series on our site and see what value comes up.

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