Bryce Harper card sold to N.Y. banker
First, it was Stephen Strasburg. Now, it's Bryce Harper.
The season began with a bang as a one-of-a-kind Strasburg SuperFractor baseball card from 2010 Bowman sold for big bucks, and the season is winding down with another big sale.
This time, the Harper SuperFractor card -- the only copy made -- from the overwhelmingly popular prospecting line was the big deal. It recently sold for $12,500 on eBay.
Neither card is autographed, and the Harper sale is second only to the $21,403 paid for the Strasburg card when it sold for a second time earlier this year. (The Strasburg card set a record for a SuperFractor sale when it originally sold for $16,403.)
While the Strasburg card was a media event in and of itself as the pitcher was on the cusp of making his big league debut, the Harper card wasn't such an attention-getter. In fact, the card languished on eBay going unsold four times before investment banker Aaron Marcus of Long Island, N.Y., pounced.
"I am not going to sell the card, as I want it for my personal collection," Marcus said. "I might consider selling some of the other Bryces that I own someday, though."
Marcus has stockpiled a few expensive Harper cards, including a Red Refractor (only five made) and an Orange (only 25 made). For non-collectors, essentially they are the same card but each has a different-colored border. After landing the toughest Harper of them all, Marcus said he also picked one of each other remaining color to complete the only possible Harper "rainbow."
Marcus said he took a break from collecting but has returned with a focus on rarities, much like the first buyer of the Strasburg card, Michigan-based accountant Robert J. Power.
"I began collecting in the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s," Marcus said. "I took some time off and began collecting again in 2007, because I liked the direction that the companies took with the changes to the products. & The thought of owning a card, and only a handful of them were made, brought my attention back to the hobby."
One reason the Harper card, which shows the teenager during his time playing for USA Baseball, might not have sold so quickly was a minor defect caused by its insertion into a pack. It had a raised edge on the back bottom of the card -- a flaw that would, in theory, hurt its value. Marcus said that didn't worry him.
"The 'issue' with the card's condition was not a huge deal to me as this is the only one that exists," he said. "It is what it is. When I received the card and saw the small scratch, it really wasn't that bad at all. The seller mentioned that it was slightly damaged.
"A bigger deal was made about the imperfection than should have been. Regardless, chances are that the public won't ever see it again, anyway, as I'm putting it away."
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Check out Beckett.com -- and be sure to get the latest news on sports cards and memorabilia at The Beckett Blog. You can also follow him on Twitter.