The Attic Update Vol. 2 - Teddy Roosevelt and the Holy Grail, new features and funding, and digital thoroughbreds
Beyond Alternative Assets
Thanks for reading the Attic Update, a weekly look at the exciting world of collecting, investing, and alternative assets.
The Attic Update is broken down into three sections. Past, Present, and Future. Each week, I will deliver:
PAST - Interesting ideas about the history of collecting, investing, and markets.
PRESENT - Ten of the most relevant stories over the last week in collecting and investing in alternative assets.
FUTURE - Where are we headed? We will look at what’s next for alternative assets and the people working hard to make visions into reality.
Teddy Roosevelt and The Holy Grail -
Why is the T206 Honus Wagner the ‘Mona Lisa’ of sports cards? What led to this “Holy Grail?” The answer might be… Teddy Roosevelt.
But to begin, we should start in Durham, North Carolina, with a man whose name would transform Duke University.
In 1880, Washington Duke handed over his pipe tobacco company to his son, James Buchanan Duke.
Within a few years of taking the reins of his father’s company, “Buck” spotted an opportunity to move into the cigarette business.
Buck had his eye on a new invention, the cigarette rolling machine.
By signing an exclusive contract with a cigarette rolling machine manufacturer, Duke was able to drop his prices lower than other competitors.
As more tobacco companies moved into cigarette production, fierce competition for cigarette sales ignited the quest for new marketing schemes.
Trading cards were included with packages of cigarettes to increase public interest. The cards featured cultural figures, actresses, professional boxers, and yes, even baseball players.
Growth in cigarettes started to decline, so Duke began buying competitors creating “one of the first great holding companies in American history.”
Duke formed The American Tobacco Company in 1889 by a merger of 5 major tobacco companies.
With 90% of the tobacco market, Duke’s company was soon referred to as the “Tobacco Trust.”
As one of the original 12 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896, they dominated the tobacco industry over the next decade by acquiring over 200 competitors.
Duke’s Tobacco Trust expanded to Europe, China, and Japan. He vertically integrated, consolidated, and slashed inefficiencies.
With his monopoly, expensive marketing was no longer needed. Trading cards were eliminated from production. Cost-cutting, acquisitions, and market share were the focus.
But Teddy “Trust Buster” Roosevelt had other plans.
His presidency from 1901 to 1909 laid the groundwork for breaking up numerous monopolies.
After he busted up Standard Oil, he set his sights on Duke’s American Tobacco Company.
In 1906, the American Tobacco Company was found guilty of antitrust violations and ordered to split up into four companies.
After Roosevelt’s split-up of the Tobacco Trust, the four companies were back to fierce competition for sales and survival.
One of the first things the reorganized American Tobacco Company did was rev up its sales and marketing machine by returning to baseball card production for every pack of cigarettes.
From 1909 to 1911, the American Tobacco Company issued its “T-206” set of baseball cards.
The set included one player who refused to allow the production of his card to continue. While tens of thousands of every other card in the T206 set continued to fly off the printing press, the Honus Wagner cards ceased.
Honus Wagner demanded his card be halted from production, creating an extremely limited supply of his epic card. Only 50 to 200 were printed, although nobody knows for sure.
But if not for Teddy ‘Trust Buster’ Roosevelt, none of the T-206 cards would exist, and there would be no Honus Wagner Holy Grail.
The National Sports Collectors Convention is beginning in Chicago, but the biggest story over the next few weeks likely won’t come from there.
Robert Edward Auctions will offer a T-206 Honus Wagner graded SGC 3, beginning next week.
The sale could break the record for the highest price ever paid for a sports card when the auction closes on August 15th. Keep your eyes on this one.
New Features and New Funding -
Here’s the ‘Attic Top 10’ - a list of ideas across alternative assets to provoke deeper thought, investigation, curiosity, and fun!
Fractional Ownership - The Collectable Daily podcast announces a new streaming show, “Collectable Daily.” Alan Goldsher does an excellent job, i.m.h.o.
Memorabilia & Collectibles - Blackstone & Jay-Z buy a majority stake in grading company CCG
Sports Cards - Alt debuts ‘Market Trends’. Awesome new feature, Alt continues to improve its platform
Rare Books - Free access to the Vatican Library’s digitized collection. Over 80,000 manuscripts, books, coins, medals, and archives. Mind-blowing
Watches - The wild and crazy watch collection of Cristiano Ronaldo. Video
Wine & Whiskey - What makes the 1984 LeNells Red Hook Rye one of the best in the world?
Markets & Investing - Alternative asset hub ‘Vincent’ raises $6 million Series A to expand the platform
Collector Cars - Check out this article from HotCars, ‘5 Japanese Classic Cars That Are Now More Expensive Than Ever
Art - Can’t get to The Met? Go there now. Visit the world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art virtually through The Met 360 Project
Digital Horse Racing?
Zed Run lands $20 million from big-name backers for their digital horse racing startup. The Series A round was led by TCG Capital Management, along with Andreessen Horowitz and Red Beard Ventures.
Users can buy, sell, and breed virtual horses and race them against other horses. Using digital currency to purchase the horses, they become NFTs while rising and falling in value based on their performance.
Do You Prefer Real-Life Horse Racing?
Maybe digital horse racing is not your thing. Try Commonwealth instead. It’s a platform offering ownership shares in real Thoroughbred horses. For $50 bucks, you can own a partial interest in a racehorse and follow along as it prepares for its next big race.
Commonwealth founders Chase Chamberlin and Brian Doxtator have big plans. The duo aims to deliver new and exciting horse racing ownership experiences with minimal initial investments.
Quote from the legends -
“If you want to have a better performance than the crowd, you must do things differently from the crowd.” - John Templeton
Tweet of the Week -
Tweet of the week brought to you by Will Stern @Will_Stern4 from Rally. All eyes will be on Rally’s upcoming NFT offering, and Will is going to have some explaining to do.
A Question for You -
What new categories would you like to see more discussion about each week? Rare coins? Graded video games? Comics? How about rare vintage concert T-shirts?? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading!