The Fallout of Inkworks’ Vault Being Pillaged

If you're a non-sport collector, particularly autographs, you've probably noticed the chaos in the prices for almost every Inkworks card. When the company went under in the spring, Razor and a couple of other groups bought out their leftover stock and have been releasing it to the masses en mass.

Razor's approach has been to pack out the cards in two different releases: Ink Archives, which gave collectors one autograph per pack and Ink Vault, which offered three autographs and a sealed box (almost always from Inkworks). Ink Archives put almost 20,000 autographs into the marketplace while Ink Vault's 499 cases has resulted in another 29,940 Inkworks autographs (plus whatever's in the boxes) hitting a somewhat small corner of the hobby. That's almost 50,000 autographs that have already been released going into circulation in a matter of months. The result has been a flooded market, which is both good and bad.

From a collecting perspective, it's been great. In just the past two weeks I've received three cards that were always priced higher than I could afford until now. The first was a Robert "Freddy Kreuger" Englund card from a Charmed series. A few months ago it sold consistently for about $50-60. I was able to trigger a 'Buy It Now' for $30.

Next up was an autograph from an under-appreciated movie, Hellboy. Lead actor Ron Perlman isn't a huge Hollywood star but the guy has had some memorable roles over the years, most recently in the awesome FX series Sons of Anarchy. In Hellboy he plays the main character. Before Inkworks went under: $50. I got it for half.

My final find was a bit of luck. It was a 'Buy It Now' that was just posted when I came across it. This one comes from the Hellboy set once again. It's of director Guillermo Del Toro who has since rocketed to fame with Pan's Labyrinth and is pegged to tackle The Hobbit if it ever gets going. Not long ago, this card sold for $100-200. This one was just $40. I did luck into an all-time low for the card I think though, as ensuing copies have crept back up into the $80-100 range. A once tough card, Ink Vault seems to be bringing a steady stream of them now.

The fact that the market being flooded with Inkworks autographs isn't the only reason prices are so soft. It also has to do with who's selling the cards. Razor's clients are mostly sports card dealers. In my experiences with both sides of the hobby, non-sport dealers are much more patient as a whole when it comes to holding onto their inventory. It's been more stable than the performance-driven sports side. As a result sports dealers look at moving their inventory as quickly as possible, which often results in undercutting the competition. Plus, if you're bread and butter normally revolves around names like Albert Pujols, Michael Jordan and Lebron James, you might not recognize the value in the director of a moderately successful film.

A lot of the cards I've been picking up have been coming from dealers who carry a lot of sports cards, which makes me believe that's their primary area of focus. Even at the deflated prices, Ink Vault is offering everyone tremendous value and a pretty easy way to make a few dollars. That is for everyone except those non-sport dealers who have been with the hobby for the long haul and have seen the value of their inventory shrink with each ensuing week.

It's in situations like these where I'm glad I'm not a dealer. I know I'd have a tough time marking a once $200 card that I pulled from a $60 box of cards down to $50 just so I can move it. Even moving $10 cards down to $5 is tough when margins weren't great even when the hobby was rolling at full steam. If sports collectors are worried about the number of dealers in their neck of the woods, non-sport collectors should be petrified. When times were good there were only a handful of dealers to pick from. I suspect the fallout from Inkworks' closing is going to make that handful even smaller when you consider the double-whammy of fewer products being released and the severely lowered value coming from almost 50,000 autographs coming into the hobby all at once.

2003 Inkworks Smallville Season 2 #A15 Richard Moll as Mr Moore Auto Card 4m4
2003 Inkworks Smallville Season 2 #A15 Richard Moll as Mr Moore Auto Card 4m4
$33.98
Time Remaining: 1h 25m
Buy It Now for only: $33.98
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2002 Inkworks Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 6 A17 Lindsay Crouse Auto Card 4m4
2002 Inkworks Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 6 A17 Lindsay Crouse Auto Card 4m4
$33.98
Time Remaining: 1h 29m
Buy It Now for only: $33.98
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LINDA HARRISON as NOVA PLANET OF THE APES / POTA 1999 INKWORKS ON-CARD AUTO (B)
LINDA HARRISON as NOVA PLANET OF THE APES / POTA 1999 INKWORKS ON-CARD AUTO (B)
$119.99
Time Remaining: 2h 45m
Buy It Now for only: $119.99
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**RARE** INKWORKS' 2005 LOST TV Series Autograph Card A2 - JOSH HOLLOWAY
**RARE** INKWORKS' 2005 LOST TV Series Autograph Card A2 - JOSH HOLLOWAY
$109.95
Time Remaining: 11h 8m
Buy It Now for only: $109.95
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INKWORKS' 2006 LOST TV Series Autograph Card A17 - MICHAEL EMERSON as HENRY GALE
INKWORKS' 2006 LOST TV Series Autograph Card A17 - MICHAEL EMERSON as HENRY GALE
$69.95
Time Remaining: 11h 9m
Buy It Now for only: $69.95
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INKWORKS' 2007 LOST TV Series Autograph Card A33 - IAN SOMERHALDER as BOONE
INKWORKS' 2007 LOST TV Series Autograph Card A33 - IAN SOMERHALDER as BOONE
$44.95
Time Remaining: 11h 12m
Buy It Now for only: $44.95
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The Simpsons Inkworks Autograph Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, Dan Castellaneta
The Simpsons Inkworks Autograph Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, Dan Castellaneta
$114.99
Time Remaining: 13h 1m
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2006 Inkworks Family Guy Season 2 A8 Adam Carolla as the voice of Death Auto 1m0
2006 Inkworks Family Guy Season 2 A8 Adam Carolla as the voice of Death Auto 1m0
$33.73
Time Remaining: 13h 14m
Buy It Now for only: $33.73
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Inkworks Firefly Gina Torres as Zoe Washburne A2 Autograph Card
Inkworks Firefly Gina Torres as Zoe Washburne A2 Autograph Card
$60.00
Time Remaining: 15h 34m
Buy It Now for only: $60.00
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INKWORKS 2001 THE MUMMY RETURNS AUTOGRAPH CARD A5 ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE
INKWORKS 2001 THE MUMMY RETURNS AUTOGRAPH CARD A5 ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE
$34.99
Time Remaining: 17h 36m
Buy It Now for only: $34.99
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2004 Inkworks Andromeda: Reign of the Commonwealth #A2 Lisa Ryder Auto Card 4m4
2004 Inkworks Andromeda: Reign of the Commonwealth #A2 Lisa Ryder Auto Card 4m4
$25.24
Time Remaining: 1d 2h 23m
Buy It Now for only: $25.24
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2005 INKWORKS SERENITY #A10 CHIWETEL EJIOFOR as THE OPERATIVE AUTOGRAPH CARD
2005 INKWORKS SERENITY #A10 CHIWETEL EJIOFOR as THE OPERATIVE AUTOGRAPH CARD
$44.95
Time Remaining: 1d 4h 38m
Buy It Now for only: $44.95
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