While many collectors attribute the first baseball cards to Peck and Snyder, a sporting goods store that printed team cards with ads on the back in 1869, others say tobacco companies truly popularized the first baseball trading cards in the late 1800s. Little did they know that the value of these advertising cards would expand to the point that some are worth millions of dollars today.
While these collectible cards, centered around black and white images of well-known players, were added as a bonus to tobacco and gum packages, the cards didn’t take long to become popular and their value promptly jumped much higher than the products they were sold with..
The American Tobacco Company published the first set of baseball cards as we know them in 1909 and the T206 Honus Wagner card from that set is regarded as one of the most valuable baseball cards ever. This and many other early sets have increased in value immensely since the 1980’s. That’s when there was a resurgence in interest in the hobby and more baseball card collectors started to drive up the value of older and rarer baseball cards to add to their collections.
Many baseball cards are available in different varieties, which can be as simple as another color (often called a ‘parallel’), or enhanced elements like holographic images, foil-stamped versions, and even some extremely limited-run cards that include player uniform patch and other materials. This last category of exclusive baseball cards tend to skyrocket in value due to their exclusivity and this makes the baseball cards worth a lot of money.
While all of these special elements increase baseball card values to collectors, there are a number distinct elements that can affect a baseball card's rarity and how much money it’s worth. For instance, some cards are more common to find in packs, so they don’t accrue as much value over time. Cards printed in small quantities or only available for a limited time are usually rarer than cards that were made in higher quantities, which drives up their value for collectors and investors alike.
The condition of a card, which can be professionally graded by experts, is a huge determiner of value for modern collectors, too. Certain sets of cards from commemorative events, rookie cards of players who later made their mark on the sport, autographed cards, and those with limited distribution also tend to see increases in value as well.
There are many devoted collectors of baseball cards nowadays, and the hobby is in good shape. Baseball cards are created by a variety of companies, including Topps, Panini, Fleer, and Upper Deck. Each year, these companies create new sets of cards featuring the best players in the current season, and they definitely print some cards in smaller quantities to drive their value up faster and make them worth a lot of money. In general, collecting and trading baseball trading cards is a thrilling and entertaining activity for lovers of the sport. There are many different cards to choose from, so every collector can find baseball cards they like and value.
If you want to know about some really expensive Baseball cards check out our Blog: The Most Expensive Baseball Cards of All Time