Ever since I wrote the article on February 8th about the explosion of the Vlad Jr. 1st BC non-auto, I have been tracking all non-autos hardcore waiting to see when it would reverberate through the entire marketplace. In that article, I hit on many of the points I will cover here, but I will expand the reasoning along with instead of it being a market trend, it’s a market movement.
Over the last couple years, we have seen how the Prizm basketball market rose with the demand for non-autos, and that’s starting to make its way into the baseball market place. The Prizm rise was mostly driven by the desire for either a Topps Chrome like rookie refractor or the nostalgia of 90s inserts; however, that won’t be the driving force of the demand for the non-auto 1st BC cards.
I think we all can agree the Bowman Chrome auto is becoming unaffordable for many of the collectors/investors, with only the top tier investors driving the market for Vlad autos. The reason the Vlad Jr. Chrome non-auto PSA 10 jumped from $65 to $140 in a month was because of that exact reason. The largest share of the marketplace wanted to get their hands on something Vlad, so they turned to 1st BC non-auto version, particularly the PSA 10 of the card.
So you’re thinking, “It won’t matter, there is not enough players with autos selling for $400+ to have this affect the whole market.” If you said this a year or two ago, you definitely would’ve been right; however, it is 2019. The Bowman market is going crazy. The marketplace is experiencing a massive increase in demand with still relatively low supply. Since there is a lot more demand, the auto prices will be driven up. With the auto prices being driven up, investors with not as much capital will have to look elsewhere to lock-in investments for their favorite prospects. Because of that, they will all be looking at the non-auto 1st Bowman Chrome.
Whether we like it or not, most of us investors fall to FOMO (fear of missing out) and scramble to pick anything up when a player is heating up. I’ve been planning on writing about this since I wrote the “When Will The Gap Close? – Prizm Basketball” article, but what got me to actually put it out there was because of a recent sale I made on eBay.
In January, I sent a bulk submission of 200+ cards to grade a bunch of base rookies I had from boxes I’ve opened or pickups from eBay. One of the cards that made its way into the submission was a Pete Alonso 1st Bowman Chrome Refractor non-auto. At the time when I sent it in, the card was worth $1.50. It finally got returned to me last week as a PSA 10.
Of course, Alonso is extremely hot which is going to lead to this massive price increase, but it sold for $199.99 on eBay. In the past, a 1st Bowman Draft Refractor non-auto would have never even gotten close to that price (except for Mike Trout). Not only that, but the ungraded refractors are only selling for $30 currently which leads into my second point: there is more money to be made by buying 1st Bowman Chrome non-autos and grading them to a PSA 10 than any other Bowman card. The multiplier is much bigger than the BC autos, but it takes more time and energy because you need to do this 100 times over.
Let me offer an example (all of this data is relative to time so it can be compared). Gavin Lux non-auto refractors from 2016 Bowman Draft sell for around $4.25 ungraded. Recently, two PSA 10s of the same card have sold. One for $30 and one for $35. That’s a 7.65 times multiplier.
Back in mid-March, the auto version /499 of that card sold for around $62. The PSA 10 version of that card was valued around $110 at the time (using a purple to refractor multiplier since there have been no recent sales). For the auto version, the multiplier is sitting at 1.77. That’s a massive difference from 7.65.
With that being said, there is a way to make a ton of money that isn’t being tapped into right now. Yes, it may be hard to find a bunch of raw Bowman Chromes from 2016 that will grade PSA 10. However, 2019 Bowman just came out, and surely there will be a ton of non-autos from that product on the market.
The best advice I can give is this: pick up a bunch of ungraded 1st Bowman Chrome non-autos (both base and refractors) of your favorite prospect, send them to PSA on a bulk submission ($8 to $10 a card depending on if you send on your own or with someone else), and try to get as many PSA 10s as you can. Whenever your prospect is ready to be sold, you will have a massive profit margin.
Is this more time consuming? Yes. Will it be a grind to buy up a ton of non-autos? For sure. Is it worth it? If you’re looking to do anything you can to make more money in this hobby, 100% it is.
With that being said, I don’t think the only way to make money on non-autos is to grade and sell. Buying copies of the cards already graded a PSA 10 will be just as effective to sit on and see profit (example: Vlad Jr.) because of the points I made earlier with increased demand.
So you want to get your toes wet in the non-auto market? Here’s a card to buy… NOW.
2017 Bowman Chrome Ronald Acuña 1st PSA 10 – $50
I’ve been saying it for a while that this card is extremely undervalued. Currently, they are selling around $50 a pop, which is a very small percent increase from where they were at in February (+31.58%). In that same time, his 2018 Topps Update PSA 10 has increased 135.71%. Acuña is already one of the best players in the MLB at 21, and it is only a matter of time before the rest of his PSA 10 cards increase like the 2018 Update.
If you want a way to track how non-autos are doing in 2019 Bowman Chrome, keep an eye on all the non-auto Wander Franco cards. People are going to be treating those like Vlad’s because the buy in is going to be so high for Franco’s autos (not saying he will be selling for $60+ for a non-auto Chrome base).
I one-hundred percent recommend you do not wait to start investing in non-autos. It’s not going to be long before the Bowman Chrome market demand increases exponentially to the point the smaller prospects non-autos will be worth more as well. If you start pursuing this investment opportunity right now, you will be very happy you did.