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Insider: A Valentine’s Flower Like No Other

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Hey, everyone! One of my favorite things about writing for Quiet Speculation is that they pretty much let me have free rein over what I write here. While I'm known in the finance community for my expertise in bulk and collection buying, Kelly and Doug will let me go off the rails on pretty much anything finance-related, and I don't have to have a week-to-week theme. I'm not restricted to writing about bulk, ancillary products or collection buying as a whole. I can write about Head Games and other Onslaught bulk rares one week, then jump to Mox Sapphire the next.

Because my content is behind a subscription paywall, I'm predicting that most of you have active Twitter accounts and use them to keep a finger on the pulse of the finance world. That's cool, because a lot of this article will be further explaining what happened in the past couple days with the Black Lotus I bought. Oh, yeah. I bought a Lotus.


lotus2

I mentioned one of the Moxen earlier; Sapphire in particular. If you haven't been following my writing for very long, I just picked up one of those a few months ago. Here's the article containing all that juicy info, and it contains a really useful lesson on grading higher-end cards. This Lotus comes from the same individual, and it is crisp. I don't think I've ever seen another Lotus in person as nice as this one. For those of you who can access Twitter from where you're reading this article, check out the tweet with the close-up pictures of the Lotus. If you're bored at work where you can't access Twitter, here's one of the example pictures of the back.

lotus4

Lotus3

We talked a little bit about my purchase on this week's Brainstorm Brewery, but I'd like to continue that discussion here on QS, where Corbin isn't around. How did we negotiate the price? What the heck am I planning to do with a Lotus? Who am I talking to in order to learn what the heck I'm going to do with a Lotus? Hopefully I'll break the surface of those questions here.

I recognize (as I did in my article about Mox Sapphire) that I am nowhere near experienced enough to be considered a "high end" dealer. While I've made some pretty Power purchases the past few months, I'm not someone who can tell you the price of an MP Lotus or an LP Bazaar of Baghdad off the top of my head. I don't have price numbers memorized like the big-time vendors at Grands Prix, and I'm not someone who should be considered an authority on this stuff.

These cards are older than I am, and I'm writing as I learn more about the world of high-end finance.

How Did You Settle on a Price?

Well, I was told in a text message that the Lotus was lightly played. I'm going to be honest: it's a really nice lightly played, if graded very harshly. My friend who came with me to double-check the authenticity has a lot of experience grading and checking cards, and he said that it's easily near mint if I was selling to someone in person. Right now, SCG buys an Unlimited LP Black Lotus for $2500, while Near Mint is $4000. Quite the discrepancy. To get some more information, I asked a friend of mine who regularly deals with high-end cards. He owns multiple Lotuses, and has the bankroll to buy this one off me if I was just looking for a quick flip. I sent him the picture that the seller sent me, and I asked his advice.

 

Untitled

Okay, so that's a bit in between the wide gap of $2500 and $4000 that SCG was giving me. Makes sense, I suppose. I offered $3000, and he threw out a counter-offer that would allow him to make a bit more for being the middle man: $3000 plus $200 in trade from my inventory at TCGplayer low. That still left me room to flip for $4000 on the High End Facebook group, or sell it to one of my friends who deals with this kind of stuff way more often than I do.

Either way, I'm not really wanting to hold onto a Lotus for the long haul. I don't want to invest nearly a semester of grad school tuition, especially when it ties up so much of my liquid cash in the process. Owning a Lotus is awesome, but selling one is even better. I agreed to the $3000 in cash plus $200 in trade, and got ready to stop by the bank the next day.

If you're paying really close attention here, you'll know I bought the Lotus on Monday of this week. President's Day. One of those American holidays where the banks are closed, and you can't withdraw a bunch of money. Uh-oh. I didn't have nearly enough cash, but I managed to make it happen by spending a lot of time on the phone with banks and having two different ATM limits temporarily raised .

After seeing the Lotus in person for the first time, I was floored. It looked a lot nicer than it did in the original pictures, and I think the other party recognized my complete lack of poker face and became slightly disgruntled at the transaction. I offered another $50 in trade to ease his suffering, and he quickly agreed. He ended up picking out some solid Modern and Legacy staples, which I don't blame him for.

Lotus in hand, I drove away happy, but still not really sure what the heck I was going to do with it. I mean, obviously I wanted to sell it, but how? You can't just throw something like a Lotus on TCGplayer, especially because you can't even directly message the seller as the buyer to see pictures or communicate. eBay is an option, sure, but I don't have feedback there and want to avoid the risk of someone scamming me by sending back a fake or something. I decided to send out my feelers on Twitter, and get an opinion from someone trustworthy and honest.


Quick aside: You may think I'm writing this article to a minuscule audience at this point. People who can afford to buy a Lotus, and people who have an MTG finance Twitter collection of connections? Yeah, not exactly a "bulk rare column" anymore, is it? I'll address this by saying that Twitter is an awesome place to get into contact with those of us finance "experts" (I'm using that term loosely, at least in terms of myself). Even if you're just a Twitter egg starting out in finance, there are a ton of people out there on Twitter who are willing to provide you with information and help you buy and sell cards. I'm always happy to retweet sales posts when asked if your prices are solid, and I'll answer quick questions in private messages on how to deal with bulk. If you run into a Lotus and want help on how to deal with it, tag any of the renowned financiers of Twitter, and we'll show you the right individuals to talk to. You don't need to have 1,000 followers to make those connections, trust me. /end aside.


 

Other than my friend who I initially talked to, I've also had a brief discussion with Dave Smith, one of Twitter's most reputable Old School players and wellspring of knowledge on ancient cardboard. If you have any higher end Alpha, Beta or Unlimited stuff in nice condition, you should probably be DMing him about it.

He quickly suggested that based on the condition of my Lotus, I should have it graded. While getting the card professionally graded by a company (Beckett Grading Services/BGS) or (Professional Sports Authenticators/PSA) costs some amount of money and requires you to lock it away in a plastic case to remain unplayable, it can significantly increase the value of the card.

I've never had a card graded before, because I've never owned anything worth grading. According to Dave, getting a grade of a 9.0/10 could mean the card is worth upwards of $5000! That's obviously something I'd be interested in, and something I'll keep my readers updated on in the weeks to come. While I was initially on the "buy it and flip it ASAP for several hundred dollars" plan, I'm not against the idea of waiting a few weeks, getting it graded, and raking in a much higher profit thanks to knowing who to ask for advice.

This is definitely my biggest single-card purchase. Do you have a notable story about a purchase of your own? Feel free to share it below!

8 thoughts on “Insider: A Valentine’s Flower Like No Other

  1. I’m not a fan of grading personally, but, it does prove authenticity and could increase the value. I do doubt that the card will get a 9. I’ve seen similar wear on 8’s and 8.5’s. It looks slightly off-center, probably not bad enough to really influence the grade, but it could make the half point difference in the final grade. If you are going to have it graded, go with BGS.

    Why would 0.5-1 point of difference be important? Collectors generally look for 9’s or higher. If it doesn’t look realistic for it to get a 9 you’re basically paying the grading fees to get it authenticated as 8’s and 8.5’s barely get you more than regular NM. Like the people you asked for input I also think this card comes in lower. You may basically burn your profit away by having it graded.

    It looks like you got it at a very good price, roughly what I traded mine for and it’s better looking than mine (though I did trade rather than buy). I think $3500-4000 is realistic.

    Would you possibly consider downtrading it for my good looking, but lower grade, Lotus + something?

  2. Great article. I was recently at GP Brisbane here in Australia, I had some of my non-gradable power in my binder and found that displaying some old school vintage really put some people off trading with me… “Oh, you have power, well I won’t have anything you want” was a common statement. Even though I had all kinds of random stuff on my want list. By the same token having the power in there also has a great ‘cool’ factor that money just can’t buy. Some just wanted to take a look at my binder.

    What amazed me most was the value of the cards in some players binders, full of cards they were not interested in playing. If they wanted to own power (non-graded stuff) it would not be hard to cash in some of their staple cards not being used in order to buy old school reserved list stuff.

    I think what your article proves is that if you really want to get your hands on some valuable cards it is doable, most people have invested enough in their collections to get some power if they really want it.

  3. this article came off as a humble brag…

    I found a binder this summer with 2 pieces of power in it. The owner didnt even think the power was real. I knew it was and purchased the binder for a few hundred bucks.

    Traded the Mox Sapphire for $1600 worth of modern staples & the Mox Ruby for $cash

    Reinvested the money into various cards on mtgstocks interest, and have seen some serious appreciation

    Ultimately, I flipped $300 into $5000 since Summer, and now I just do #mtgfinance & value trade full time.

    #MTGfinance is so fun

      1. If the guy was totally okay with the transaction it isn’t really ripping someone off though. It isn’t his fault that they guy did not want to have them checked out before selling them as fake. Would you turn down that deal if someone offered it to you?

        Now if he was like hey those are fake but ill take them off your hands for this much. Then yeah that is kind of scummy of course.

        1. Opinions differ on that. There are definitely people who consider that scummy, though perhaps a little less so than lying or stealing. If you know you’re paying way too little, don’t tell them and make the deal anyway you should not be surprised to get some flak for it when people find out.

          I won’t claim I’ve never made such deals, I’ve actually recently written two articles on how I have long ago to show people what to watch out for. It’s just not needed, but everybody should decide for themselves where they draw the line.

          QS’ policy is to discourage ihis sort of dealing.

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