The History of Baseball Cards
Baseball cards have a very broad history. In the beginning, god
made man. Then, man produced........ the baseball card. From 1887
to the present, billions of baseball cards have been produced.
Some cards are valued at ten cents, while others, are valued at
over one hundred thousand dollars. Since 1887, Baseball cards
have been a major part of many people's lives.
The Beginning of the baseball card collecting era would lead
cards to a path of greatness and immortality. The first baseball
cards were made of a cloth like material. Many of these cards
were "home made" (SCD)*. No one but the creator of these cards,
(there all dead) knows for sure what exactly was used to produce
these early cards. This time period started on 1887 and continued
on until 1901. The 1887 baseball cards were part of a unique set.
Not only did this set contain baseball cards, but it also
contained boxing. golf, and horse racing cards.
These cards are very high in value because of their rarity and
because they are some of the early baseball cards. The common
card is worth around $800. All of these cards are common,
considering that there were no star athletes back then. There
were not many cards sizes during this time period. The only size
that I could find was one and a half inches by two inches. There
were many company's that manufactured cards during this time
period. They were: Mayo Tobacco Works, Buchner, Kimball's, Old
Judge, Allen & Ginter, and Goodwin (SCD). These cards are rare,
but are not very difficult to obtain if you're willing to pay top
dollar. What many collectors call "the golden years of baseball",
took place from 1902 until 1935. One reason that collectors call
this time period that is because cards took many different
changes during this era. Cards were starting to be packaged with
Chewing Tobacco, crackerjacks, and Chewing gum.
The value of cards during this time period depends on many
different factors. A large percent of these cards have misprints
(flaws). Because of these misprints, a card may have a higher
value than the exact same card because of a misprint. The reason
there were so many misprints was because the card industry was
just starting to experiment with the printing process (SCD). The
most expensive baseball card of all time was produced during this
era. That card was the Honus Wagner T-206 produced in 1909. The
reason that this card is so expensive is because only 4 of these
cards were ever produced. Honus Wagner didn't want kids buying
tobacco for the Baseball cards. One of the Wagners sold at an
auction recently for 451,500 to Wayne Gretzky (SCD).
There were three main sizes of baseball cards during this time
period. One of the sizes was the "tobacco" size cards. These
cards were one and a half inches by two inches. The second card
size was a rectangular sheet of three cards. These were about two
inches by five and one fourth inches. The third and final size
was a square about two inches by two inches. Cards were packaged
with chewing tobacco, cracker jacks, chewing gum, and cigarettes
Many company's produced cards during this era. Some of the major
manufactures were : Piedmont, Soverign, Ramly, Hassan, Mecca and
Turkey Red. The T-2.. series is very common at card shows. With
the exception of the Honus Wagner, most of these cards can be
acquired for a reasonable price. From 1936 until 1960, not much
happened in the card collecting era. Three major changes occurred
during this time period. The cards themselves changed to a size
that would carry them to present time. Also, two ground breaking
companies would arrive and last until the 21st century.
The value of the 30's and 40's cards is around forty dollars for
a semi-star. The value of the 50's cards is a little
higher at forty five dollars for the semi-star. Mickey Mantle's
rookie is included in the 1952 Bowman set. It is valued at $9,000
. Also, another Mantle , his '52 Topps is worth $35,000 (BKM,
SCD, TUFF*). The 60's common cards are worth between one dollar
and five dollars.
There were two main card sizes from 1936 to 1960. The first was
two and a half inches by three and one eighth inches. The second
card size is two and a half inches by three and a half inches.
This is the size that ball cards would remain to be for the next
36 yr.. The major company's that produced cards during this time
period are Bowman, Topps, Goudey, and Play ball. The common card
from these years is pretty easy to come by.
This time period really set cards for 80's and 90's. Many present
and future Hall of Famers had cards during this age. Cards
basically remained the same. One new card company came into the
These cards aren't valued very highly because they are very easy
to find. A few cards are valued at over $200.The common card is
valued from around ten cents to three dollars. The size of these
cards remained the same as before, two and a half inches by
three and a half inches.
There were only a two company's who produced cards during this
time duration. The two company's that produced cards during this
time period were Topps and Fleer. These cards are very easy to
From 1980 to 1996, cards took several revolutionary changes.
These changes would affect the value and collectability of
baseball cards forever.
The value of these cards is actually quite high considering how
long these cards have been on the market. Some of the older
cards, such as Cal Ripken Jr.'s 1982 Topps Traded, are valued at
over $350. Newer cards, such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank
Thomas's rookies are around $80. Card companies devised a scheme
to lure the card collector into buying more cards, the INSERT!!!!
The "Insert card" is a special card that has a certain chance of
you pulling it out of a pack. The higher the odds, the higher the
value of the card. This was designed to make the collector buy
lots of packs to try to pull an insert. Card company's also
introduced a card called the redemption card. These cards are
usually seeded at about 1:360 packs. If you pulled one of these
cards, you could send it into the company and they would send you
back a limited edition set. Finally, those devilish little
fellows at the card company's decided to to created a premium
card. These cards were special cards that cost more to buy. They
have a UV coating that gives them a slick look. Also, the company
only makes so many of these cards. It is harder to get a
autograph on these cards because of the UV coating. The autograph
The sizes of these cards remained the standard size of two and a
half by three and a half. The only difference is the new UV
coating on the cards. The companies that manufacture baseball
cards now are Topps, Upperdeck, Bowman O-Pee-Chee, Fleer, Score,
Studio, Donruss, Pinnacle, Leaf and Stadium Club.
Baseball cards have a very broad history as you can see. Whether
it's homemade cloth cards or store bought premium cards, you'll
probably find something you like. Well, have baseball cards
affected your life since 1887? You'll have to decide yourself.
The Card I Really Wanted In 1976 I was a real baseball card
fanatic. Every chance I had I bought a pack of Topps cards. They
were my only option and I didn't care. Even the gum that ruined a
card per pack with a messy stain didn't bother. The Summer of '76
was the time of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. He put fannies in the
seats of every park he pitched in as he talked to the baseball
and generally just acted goofy on the diamond. I loved it. And I
had to have his card - which I got fairly fast early in '76. But
as I kept getting more and more Fidrych cards, I was missing the
one I really needed to make my collection complete - Bruce Kimm -
The Bird's personal catcher. Finally, my friend got a double of
Kimm and I traded him two doubles of The Bird for my 'most wanted
card." If life were only so simple today. - Dan Holmes