The Future and Prospects For Sports Cards Collectibles
Here's a true fantasy. The one that tops them all is a truly rare card printed by the American
Tobacco Co., ca. 1909, and issued by Sweet Caporal cigarettes. This beauty depicts Pittsburgh
shortstop, Honus Wagner, and is considered to be the most valuable baseball card in the world.
Over the years, it has brought hundreds of thousands of dollars. Today, the sky's the limit! Wagner,
considered by many to be the best all-around player in baseball history, escaped the coal mines to become a
baseball legend. Only ten of the coveted Honus Wagner cards are known to exist, and even fewer that are
in good condition. Why are they so scarce, you ask?
Wagner, who played shortstop, first for the Louisville Colonels, and then for the Pittsburgh Pirates,
demanded that the cards be recalled. When he found out his card was distributed with tobacco, Wagner, a
non-smoker, did not want to set a bad example for the children and insisted on a recall in 1909. It was, and
that's why the cards are so valuable today.
The Strategy of Investing in Cards
The cards you ultimately choose to collect will depend on different variables, including location, team loyalty
and availability. It's your game plan! Baseball card mania has proliferated over the years, and every major U.
S. city has at least one store dealing in baseball cards. Specialized magazines tell avid collectors what is
“hot” today; listing the asking price of just about every card produced.
A good reference source is the "Sports Card Magazine and Price Guide," Krause Publications, Inc.
Here are the theories of Expert Collectors on ways to cash in on the baseball market:
* Buy cards from a player's first season, so that if he becomes successful and famous, his rookie cards will
soar in value.
* Buy a complete set (one of every card produced by a company for a full year), instead of a random
selection packet, to ensure that you have one of each card made.
* Buy a pack--any pack--and never open it. The value of an unopened pack of baseball card--ma mint edition of
unknowns, so to speak, is bound to increase in value over the years.
* Value can also depend on factors other than the specific player portrayed on the card, including the
number of cards produced in a series, the age of the card, condition, and artistry.
Since there's no end in sight, let's start at the beginning of this sports memorabilia craze. At Bill's Sports
Collectibles. One look at the place speaks volumes about the state of a hobby that long since has given way
to an industry.
In 1981, many hobbyists scraped up enough money to buy their own little slice of the growing market of
collectibles including sports cards, model cars, old comic books and of course, model trains.
Today, collectibles include signs, cereal boxes, pins, pennants, jerseys, Christmas ornaments, beer mugs,
dolls clocks, bats, caps, furniture and especially sports cards and models.
Sports card collectibles in football, basketball and hockey have gain their place in the collectibles market.
Yet, baseball cards remain a top collectible. You couldn't begin to count the utility infielders whose cards
are worth more than John Elway's or Michael Jordan's.
Baseball is the king of collectibles. This is mostly because baseball card collecting started early in the last
How many football players do you remember from the '1930s? Very few
People who collect sports cards usually stick with those players that bring back the great memories of
childhood. Going to the ball field with their father's, eating peanuts and popcorn and feeling like they are all
part of a special team.
The generations meld together in the collectibles game. Older sports card collectors frequently favor
players remembered from their youth. Younger sports card collectors will prefer more recent players.
There are the Amazing Mets, Miracle Braves and Damn Yankees; in the other, Rockies and Marlins, although
many names have been changed.
No matter how deeply involved someone is in the collector's game, it all began at a ballpark, usually at a
time of life when impressions dug deeply. Back then, kids put their cards between the spokes on their bikes.
Today, those same kids put them in bank vaults.
It usually begins with a love for the game and as older adults it turns into collecting sports cards. Some
collector's take it very seriously. As big a fan of the game they are more inclined to collect for investment
purposes. When it comes to sports card memorabilia they typically bring a magnifying glass and ruler with
him to shows to ensure that a card is not flawed and perfectly centered.
There are investment collectibles and collectibles whose value won't increase and the key is to learn the
difference. Memorabilia collecting underwent a dramatic change in the early '80s, and will never be the
Gone are the days when collectors would write the price of a sports card, comic book or model train on the
back, a practice that can drop its value by 90 percent. Gone, too, are those afternoons when you could
stumble upon a Babe Ruth ball at a rummage sale in the country. By now, every attic in America has been
turned inside out in hopes of finding that rare card grandpa might have left behind.
The people have changed, too. In 1979, Beckett Publications of Dallas came out with the first price guides
for collectors. Armed with their own stock market of sorts, collectors soon became dealers. It kept
growing as new guides came out.
Today, Beckett's various publications have a monthly circulation of 1.5 million. The Sports Collectors Digest,
published in a small town in Wisconsin, comes out weekly with a circulation of 45,000.
This is definitely big business. How big? Most estimates put the memorabilia-collecting industry at about
$6 billion a year. Like so many businesses that command high prices, it's become an industry replete theft
and the occasional scandal.
Rare Sport Cards Can Command Very High Prices
Still, the industry bullishly moves forward and historical events can make a sports card very rare. And
sometimes it can make someone very wealthy.
The baseball card depicting early 20th century Pittsburgh Pirates' Honus Wagner called the T206 Honus
Wagner made history when it was sold to Bruce McNall and Wayne Gretsky in 1991. Honus Wagner was
considered an all-time great baseball player but the cards rarity made it extremely valuable. Designed by
the American Tobacco Company (ATC) from 1909 to 1911 as part of its T206 series, Honus Wagner stopped
its production for unknown reasons. Only 60 to 200 cards were ever distributed making it very rare and
In 1991, then Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall and his partner, Wayne Gretzky, bought a rare Honus
Wagner card for a record $451,000. A Mantle rookie card in mint condition goes for about $50,000.
In 1979, Nolan Ryan's rookie card went for a buck. Today, it has leveled off at $1,600. Former players such
as Mantle and Bob Feller have amassed fortunes making appearances at shows. Autographs for Hall of
Famers range from $10 to $350 for Joe DiMaggio. The National Sports Collectors Convention typically
attracts about 50,000 people.
Where will it all end? Is the collector's craze literally a house of cards? Its been going
on for over 50 years and looks like it will continue.
How Can I determine A Sports Card's Future Value?
The key to today’s market may be collecting a wide variety of collectibles. The industry is much more
fragmented than it used to be. More money is being spent than ever, but there are several slices of the pie.
It's not just card collecting any more. It’s not only sports cards, model trains, old comics and model cars.
Antique dolls, furniture and memorabilia collecting has been commanding a lot of interest from collectors.
The old stuff like a Mantle card or Fogel's bats or Sullivan's jerseys figures to keep inching upward. Then
there is the recent stuff. That's a tenuous proposition since, according to Sports Collectors Digest
publisher Bob Lemke. Then, of course, there's the rainbow of minor-league teams that issue their own sets.
Think minor-league cards aren't hot? Think again. A set of 1982 Columbus Clippers cards may be worth
hundreds of dollars. The face at the top of the stack belongs to Don Mattingly.
Former players are finally getting into the collecting game. Some of those 200 sets of cards are produced
by the Ted Williams Card Co., operated by Williams' son.
New cards won't ever reach the levels that old cards sell for. Not even the '89 Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie
card from Upper Deck, which sells in the hundred dollar range. Investing in new cards isn't a wise choice
because there is just too many of them. Scarcity is the key to collecting.
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|Young sports card collectors
hold the pictures of their
favorite players, purchased
at hobby shops and learn
their accomplishments which
are nicely summarized on
Their dads were the kids who
went into "mom and pop"
grocery stores to buy many
packages of Topps bubble
gum, because packed inside
were the prized cards of their
favorite sports figures. These
cards are now worth
hundreds of dollars, a fact
unknown as dad traded cards
with classmates. Kids today
know that the cards they
are collecting will increase
in value. A packet of cards
bought for a quarter in 1983,
which had included the rookie
Boston Red Sox Wade Boggs
is being sold for more than
$250.The fascination for kids
|begins at the ball field while sitting next to dad and knowing
Topps cards from 1966 featuring Hall of Famer, Mickey Mantle
are now worth hundreds of dollars; his rookie card $6000.