Wednesday, March 7, 2007

What Topps This?

Michael Eisner's deal to purchase Topps, a baseball card company, brought back a great family intergenerational story about money. One of our aunts loved to talk about her stuff, and since she had no children, she told us she would leave us each money. Evidently she forgot. Instead I got some lapis jewelry which was perfect for a dowager going to a matinee .... That would be her, not me. [Note: if you promise people money, don't forget to do it. People have really good recall when it comes to inheritances.] One day when my son was around 9, and pouring over the Sports section, he pointed out an ad for estate jewelry purchases. It looked legit, and I gamely told him I'd give him 10% of anything I netted.
To my amazement they offered me more than the appraised worth for the jewelry, $1000. I reported to him that he had $100 coming, a princely sum to a 4th grader. After much discussion, we bullied/talked him into buying stock in Topps, since he was an avid baseball card collector. Our stockbroker was so tickled he waived the fees. Shortly thereafter, major league baseball went on strike, abruptly ending both the season and the baseball card biz potential. For the next decade or so, he continued to receive annual Topps reports along with seriously modest dividends - as in the postage cost them more than the dividend checks inside.
After his college graduation, there was the question of what to do with the Topps stock; the charge for selling the shares was almost as much as their worth. He decided to donate them to The Heifer Fund, which graciously accepted them.
In reminiscing about it today, he recalls they cost $7.50 a share, so I guess the financial lesson was well-absorbed. It certainly was a good lesson in risk tolerance. Topps produces a good product. Lots of little guys do have a great time with their Topps cards, and I'm sure Michael Eisner will, too!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice windfall on the jewelry. Too bad Topps didn't work out as well:-)

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